Ricky Dillard On the Importance of Choir Music, Being a Choirmaster and His New Album

Ricky Dillard

Multiple GRAMMY®-nominated choir director Ricky Dillard makes his Motown Gospel debut with the aptly titled album, Choirmaster. The album will release on May 1.

Choirmaster features "Release", the faith-filled anthem declaring change and breakthrough in the lives of its listeners. Teaming up with acclaimed vocalist Tiff Joy (also featured on Dillard's 2015 chart-topping choir hit, "Amazing"), the dynamic artist delivers a rousing new single that promises to be one of the biggest choir songs of the year.

As part of a special moment, Ricky Dillard also remakes "More Abundantly," the first hit single released by Dillard and his choir, New G, nearly 30 years ago. The classic is reworked by the quintessential showman in a way that only he can.

Heralded in 2019 in both TIME and Rolling Stone magazines, two-time GRAMMY-nominee Ricky Dillard is considered a pioneer of the contemporary choir sound and style. With musical beginnings in both the African-American church and the Chicago "house music" scene, Ricky Dillard is revered as "The Choirmaster," known for his captivating choir direction, staggering vocal delivery and electrifying stage presentation. 

Q: Ricky, thanks for doing this interview with us.  You are always championing for the choir, why is the choir important in Sunday worship?

The choir is important to a worship experience because as they sing praise and worship to God through song the music invokes the presence of God to perform miracles signs and wonders. It opens the hearts of the people to receive from God what he has prepared for them. In his presence their faith increased, hearts are healed, spirits are filled, the word is spoken to transform their lives and they are prepared to face the world.

Q:  How is a choir song different from a praise and worship song?

The only difference in a choir song and praise & worship song is the arrangement or composition from the writer.  However, the message is still about the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Q: How did you first feel called to be a choirmaster?

My feeling being called to be a choirmaster actually was a great joy for me because I started at 5 yrs old and I was trained by the leading choirmasters of the 60,70 and 80's like:

  1. Dr. Mattie Moss Clark was the choirmaster to trained me to teach the choir
  2. Dr. Charles G Hayes taught me to grace ministry with an engaging image and using the platform to keep your audiences' attention
  3. Rev. Milton Brunson taught me how to organize, structure, lead and hold it together

But there were other local choirmasters that had inspired my call in my local community like Tyrone Block, Allen Cathey, Bishop Larry Darnell Hopkins, Pastor Ronald Baker and Janet Harris Sutton.

Q:   Being a choirmaster for so many years, what makes a good choir?

What makes a good choir is when they are able to execute everything the director teaches and to execute it with excellence. Nothing more rewarding is to teach a choir etiquette, vocally and spiritually that when it comes together the audience is blessed, inspired and God is praised by the music ministry.

Q:  You have a new album coming out entitled "Choirmaster."  What are some of the highlights in the making of this new record?

Some of the highlights in making this record was being able to travel to the singers which reside in 3 regions:  (Midwest: IL, WI, IN, MI and OH) (East: DC, MD, VA, DE, PA) (South: ATL, NC) to teach them what was chosen for them to record. To see their faces, light up with excitement about the music and how they were like sponges taking in everything taught to be perfect in delivering this new project.

q: I love your new song "Let There be Peace on Earth," which is appropriate for our times now.  Tell us more about this song.

LET THERE BE PEACE ON EARTH was originally written by Jill Jackson-Miller and Sy Miller in 1955. Jill was suicidal after a failed marriage and was inspired to write the song as well as wrote it for an International children's choir. She discovered during her suicidal state what she called the life saving joy of Gods peace and unconditional love.

One of my writers Zeke Listenbee sent me an arrangement that he put together with a Thomas Whitfield twist on what Jill had written and climaxed it with Vanessa Bell Armstrong's version of  PEACE BE STILL which was also arranged by Thomas Whitfield and James Cleveland (the King of Gospel.)  I loved the arrangement and decided to try it on New G not knowing that we would be in one of the craziest virus pandemics of our time. With our nation the US racially divided, pain, sickness and death which has plagued our nation, this song is the perfect messaging that we can sing to our current worlds state of being.

Q: What words of encouragement to our readers in the midst of this coronavirus pandemic?

My words of encouragement to the Corona virus pandemic is for people to follow the expertise advice on fighting the virus and staying safe. As we deal with what we see around us, which has been traumatic, there is a scripture that comes to mind in 2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us the spirit of fear but of Power, and of love, and of a sound mind. God is in control! When his blood is applied to your life then you will see his great Passover.



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