Choirmaster Ricky Dillard’s career is now ‘Amazing’


Ricky Dillard will sign copies of "Amazing" at Atlanta LifeWay Christian Store from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday. 441 Cleveland Ave., Atlanta. 404-767-7514. Dillard will perform at 7 p.m. Sunday at Covenant Church of Jesus Christ, 509 May Ave., Macon. $5 and $12. Tickets can be bought in advance at the church or at the door.

Ricky Dillard had worked more than two decades in the music business and was a successful choirmaster with two Grammy nominations under his belt.

So, it may come as a surprise that, a couple of years ago, Dillard was depressed.

He couldn’t get air time on radio. He was told choir music wasn’t in demand. And he later was diagnosed with sarcoidosis, a disease that causes inflammation, most commonly in the lungs, skin, lymph nodes, eyes and liver.

“The music business was changing so fast,” said Dillard, 49, a former Atlanta resident who now lives in Washington. “I was feeling that my season for doing this was coming to an end.”

But he was wrong.

Dillard recently released his ninth album, “Amazing,” with New G choir. It debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s gospel album chart.

The soul-stirring title cut “really got in my spirit,” Dillard said. “We recorded that song at the (choir’s) 25th silver anniversary reunion. The power of God that assembled in that place after we sang that song — we knew then that God was up to something and he really was about to throw his weight around. He was going to show how amazing he can be.”

The song was written by Tiffany Joy McGhee, who sings lead with Dillard. Also on the album are “Celebrate the King,” “Grace” and “Stay With God,” led by Lillian Lloyd.

Dillard will sign copies of the album from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Atlanta LifeWay Christian Store and will perform at 7 p.m. Sunday at Covenant Church of Jesus Christ in Macon.

Below are excerpts from an interview with Dillard …

On his depression and thoughts of retirement:

I was feeling a bit overlooked, unsung and unappreciated. I was really just feeling at my lowest. I also ended up going into a health challenge (now under control). … In the interim of that going on, my record company wanted me to prepare for a record and I just didn’t have anything. I was empty. I was trying to figure out what direction I was going in. (Singer-songwriter-producer) Donald Lawrence sent me the song (“Amazing”) and said, “You want to know what direction to go in and where you fit? Do songs like this.” It resonated in my spirit how amazing God really, really is. (The song) rescued me, empowered me, lifted me and has given me a turnaround.

On how the album seems to be about grace:

That is the message that the Lord has given me for this season to tell the world. Grace means the unmerited and unearned favor of God that is in the beginning and has always been there. … I felt that maybe I didn’t fit in the music business because it was changing. I’m a churchy kind of guy who also does choir music, and I was being told by many radio stations that choir music was dead and there was no place on radio for it. Yet when I looked at every church in America, there was a choir. It made be believe that that was not a true statement. … Choir music was my thing. That’s why I say the song was amazing. It’s about this unmerited favor in our lives. When man says no, God says yes. They said it didn’t fit. … God turned that around. I consider that to be grace.

With whom he’d like to collaborate:

I always wanted to work with the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin. I would like to work with Lalah Hathaway. If her father (Donny Hathaway) were alive, he would be my choice. I would love to do more acting and more TV. I’d also like to work with artists on the other side — secular. I would like to work with R. Kelly, Jill Scott — I love, love, love Jill Scott — Celine Dion and Faith Evans.