Few recording artists have shown the penchant and passion for artistry on all platforms like Deitrick Haddon. His revolutionary releases are epic. His motion pictures are major deals and his Reality TV show is notorious. The Detroit-native, west coast resident is a bona fide triple threat who continues to rewrite his own story as an entertainer, entrepreneur and artist.
His latest calling that will demand all the creativity he can muster is as the spiritual shepherd of Hill City Church in Compton, California. D-Haddon is digging deep and devoting his godly gifts towards pointing souls to the Savior. The situation is fluid but everything points to a man who’s undergone a successful makeover.
His new release, Live, featuring The Hill City Worship Camp, is an introduction into where Haddon’s heading as a natural Worship Leader, it’s about praise, it’s about power, it’s about an intimate encounter with the Creator. With Deitrick operating on a different vibe these days, BlackGospel.com discussed his latest likes, his proudest achievements and his view from the top of Hill City.
Christopher Heron:At this point it’s clear to everybody who’s been following your career you’re a Cali guy now, West Coast guy. Besides the weather, what do you prefer about the West Coast over Motor city?
DeitrickHaddon:I like the fact that people mind their own business and they do their thing. When they come together, they come together. But when they’re not together they kind of break off into their own world. You can do the beach thing, you can do the Hollywood thing, you can do the family thing, you can do the business thing. It’s all broken up into different parts even though it’s in one region. So you can really have your own space there without anybody intruding.
Christopher Heron:That’s interesting. Let’s see if you’re really sold out to the West Coast or if you’re still a Detroiter. You tell me which one you prefer. For instance, Pistons or Lakers?
DeitrickHaddon: Pistonsall day, every day. I’m a ‘bad boy’ for life.
Christopher Heron:Shake Shack (in Detroit) or In-N-Out Burgers (in LA)?
Christopher Heron:Detroit church or LosAngeles church on a Sunday morning?
DeitrickHaddon:Well, you want to experience Detroit church in LosAngeles and that’s my church, Hill City. You get it all.
Christopher Heron:You’ve done the movie thing, you’ve done the television thing, and of course we know you as a successful recording artist. Which artistic expression appeals to you the most?
DeitrickHaddon:They’re all the same to me because all of it is entertainment and it’s what I love to do and you’re able to express your heart, mind, and your soul whether it be through theatre, through film, or through reality TV, or music. I’ve been doing music much longer than the others but I will always love theater, film, and television so I enjoy doing it all.
Christopher Heron:I am probably the only journalist that has all your releases. I’m looking through my stack of CDs, fromChurch On The Moon,toCrossroads,toRevealedto7 Days,Chainbreaker, This Is My Story,I have them all.
DeitrickHaddon:You go back if you’ve gotThis Is My Story.
Christopher Heron:I even gotLive The Life.I’m just keepin it 100.
DeitrickHaddon:You know what’s up.
Christopher Heron:Is there a particular album that really resonates with you?
DeitrickHaddon: I put 1000 percent in all my projects. I stand behind them. I feel like I’ve got to get it all out of my soul and once I get it out I feel like I’ve done my job. I lay down at night after each project and say, ‘’I did my best.’’ I can lay down and sleep at night in peace.
But each record represents different stages of my life and all of my music reflects where I was at that time. I would say, 7 Days, I was in a good place. That’s one of my favorite albums. I was in a very creative space. Up until that album, I was producing everything myself, it was my sound.
I like the fact that I was aware that I hit a plateau and I needed to break out. I felt like there was another level that I could reach.I was able to partner with my longtime friends from Detroit and we produced7 Days.We all sat in the studio and actually produced in 7 days. We didn’t do our timing on purpose. We were vibing so well and having such a good time and the music was flowing. So I said, “we’re going to call this album 7 Days because the Lord created everything in 7 days.
Christopher Heron: Your worship recordings are completely different from your studio productions.
DeitrickHaddon: My Live productions accommodate the worshipper in me. Like Together In Worship was created to worship. He’s Able, that song took off. It was nominated for a Grammy.LXW / League Of Xtraordinary Worshippers was my choir, put together and designed for a 4-wall, worship experience.
I love my Live work but it doesn’t allow me to be that creative because you have to use what you have that night. Vocally you’re able to go out and sing without being contained. You just let it flow. You’re doing whatever it takes to make that crowd happy and get a rise out of the crowd. So vocally it’s liberating but musically it’s restrictive.
Christopher Heron:Let’s talk about Hill City. What was that specific sign that made you feel it was time to launch Hill City?
DeitrickHaddon: When I was pastoring my dad’s church in Detroit, when my life took a turn and I decided to let go of the church. I moved to LosAngeles and I did the TV Reality show and that was good. I said, “this will be my life. I’ll do these TV shows and minister to people and prophesy and preach and God will be satisfied with me. I became relaxed.
If you ran into me during that season and said, ‘’Deitrick, are you going to start a church like the rest of the guys on the show?’’ I would have told you, ‘’No way in the world. I’m done with pastoring people.’’ But one day I was sitting on my patio and I heard the voice of God say to me, ‘’Deitrick, I want you to get up and do what I called you to do. If you don’t obey my voice and give me what I put in you I’ll take it all away.’’
When I heard His voice, I told my wife everything. I could no longer soak in the sun, sit under palm trees and go to Disneyworld every other day. I’ve got to do God’s will. I called my mom and dad and I asked them, “Could I preach at your church in Detroit?’’ I did a three-day revival that turned into a week.
Heading back home to LosAngeles, I said ‘’Lord I’ve done my job.’’ And He was like, ‘’No, you’ve got more to do. I want you to start this church.’’ And that’s how you get Hill City Church.
Christopher Heron:Over the last generation we’ve seen a multitude of recording artists transition into full time ministry. From Hezekiah Walker to Marvin Sapp, from SmokieNorful to Le’Andria Johnson, the list is long. Have you consulted with any artists about ministry?
DeitrickHaddon:I have not. I respect them all because they have a Levitical anointing to do it. The Levites were the worshipers and their responsibility was to take care of the house of God and all the things that pertain to the house of God. So most worshipers, singers and psalmists evolve into leadership or ministry because they spend a lot of time expressing the anointing that’s on their music. It’s a natural progression for most Gospel artists.
Christopher Heron:What’s been the biggest challenge in terms of shepherding lives?
DeitrickHaddon: The biggest adjustment is establishing this church from the ground up, not having the help that I need in the beginning. So basically, you’re sowing the seeds in the ground, and you’re watering the grounds, you’re pulling the weeds, you’re doing all of the work when you build a church.
This ministry didn’t come with a salary, it didn’t come with 500 people already on the books. This is started from scratch. The first members were my family; my three kids and my wife. To see how it’s grown is amazing. You’ve got to work for everything.
Christopher Heron:Let’s talk about the Live album. In your own words express the distinctive quality of this album and what you’re most proud of.
The song combines the sounds of a Sunday morning choir with electrifying guitar embellishments. With the lyric, “I won’t stop until I’ve got a billion people saying Jesus,” Haddon is determined to make this an anthem for believers everywhere! From start to finish, this song is sure to have listeners fully engaged in worship. ~CCM Magazine
DeitrickHaddon:I’m most proud of the authenticity of the work that God allowed us to create. It’s very authentic. When I listen back to this record, you could actually hear my soul, you can hear my spirit. This is my type of worship to God. This is Deitrick. You get the essence of who I am, how I talk to God, how I worship, how I love music. You will get the essence of the worshiper in me.
I’m also proud that it doesn’t sound like any other worshipper or any other worship album. You get the same spiritual results that you need but it still has the integrity of who I am. The artist of the work is present but it doesn’t override the worship and the power of the message in the music.
Christopher Heron:Years ago, when we last spoke, I remember telling you that we need more worship music from you and I almost sensed a resistance from you. Can we expect more worship music from you in the future?
DeitrickHaddon: Absolutely. I think I’m on the path now. I like how this first one came out and I know I can do even better. I know there’s greatness in me. I’ll do more Live albums and like I said I’m trying to merge studio creativity with the freedom of Live vocals. I’m in pursuit of thatThriller album for Gospel. The creativity was crazy and the freedom…it was just innovative and special.
I’m in pursuit that. I wouldn’t consider this one the Thriller, I consider this more like Off The Wall. Great songs. You see Michael Jackson coming into something special. I’m in pursuit of creating a Gospel album that will make the world stand at attention without losing who I am as a Gospel artist.
Christopher Heron:Do you believe the album will also have traction with non-believers or with secular music fans?
DeitrickHaddon: Absolutely. I think this is the worship a lot of people have been looking for. Let me articulae this right. We as a people are rhythm people. We’re harmony-structured people, we’re soulful people, but we found in the last decade that we love the freedom of worship, the lyrical content, the chants, the easy to sing along music that we’re doing now in our churches.
I feel like we’ve drifted far away from who we are to get that. This project merges the two ends and blends the two together to give our people what they want, that rhythm, harmony, power and soul we’re used to and the freedom, the melodies and the chanting that makes it a big arena worship. I think we did that on this album.
For more information on Deitrick Haddon and his church ministry, visit the official site @www.hillcitylife.com.