As a child growing up in Chicago, I remember a television program that featured Gospel Music artists called Jubilee Showcase. Many of you reading who are close to my age might also recall the show. Most of the time featured artists included traditional gospel musicians. However, one week a relatively young group of musicians from California brought a different, modern sound. That group was led by the late, great André Crouch. He became widely known as the father of modern gospel music. Moving ahead about forty years to the present day, that modern sound is considered normal. Our featured artist this week is one of the caretakers for gospel music today, and tomorrow. This week we will feature gospel music superstar Deitrick Haddon.
Deitrick Haddon was not even born as André Crouch made his rise in gospel music. He was born May 17, 1973 in Detroit, MI., but was certainly influenced musically by Crouch and many other gospel stars. Haddon launched his solo career as a Christian R&B vocalist with Lost & Found on Tyscot/Verity in 2002. The set peaked at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Gospel Charts and received wide critical acclaim and spawned the hit “Sinner’s Prayer” which received heavy spins on gospel and mainstream R&B radio stations.
When I first heard that Haddon was born in Detroit, immediately I began to think about all the Motown artists and other R&B musicians that call Detroit home. One other great R&B artist from Detroit that comes to mind is Aretha Franklin. Comparable to Haddon because Franklin, like so many others from the area started by singing gospel music in the church. In fact, several of my family members were right in the same church with Aretha Franklin as she started singing at a very young age. However, Franklin and many others eventually made their way to secular music for long successful careers. The lure of fame and fortune pulled many talented singers away from possible careers in gospel music. Deitrick Haddon continued to sing and produce gospel music full-time. Why?
Much has changed within the modern gospel music genre. As the years have gone by since the emergence of André Crouch, modern gospel music has further blurred the lines between it and secular music. Hip hop has moved to offer fans gospel rappers who are very popular today. Gospel music traditionalists are not particularly happy with the direction of modern gospel music. Most have expressed their displeasure of a sound that is too close to secular music. Nevertheless, the new wave of modern gospel musicians contend with other issues at one time found only among secular artists. Deitrick Haddon has experienced his share of modern problems.
Haddon married his first wife Damita at twenty-three years old. He now admits he was too young to make such a commitment. Upon learning that she was having an affair with another gospel singer, Haddon left his church and moved to Los Angeles where he began getting involved with alcohol and frequenting strip clubs. His now wife (Dominique Mctyer) notes that he was suicidal when she met him and although he was still legally married, she struggled with beginning a relationship with him. Mctyer became pregnant while Haddon was in the process of divorce but they kept the birth of their child a secret until their now 2-year-old was a few months old.
Deitrick Haddon, star of Oxygen Network’s “Preachers of L.A.” reality show, admits that he made mistakes in his personal life that led him to fall from grace but after enduring turmoil and criticism, Haddon now feels grounded once again. “I hope that my story can help people know there is live beyond your mistakes … We all mess up at some point. You can’t expect to live 80 years or 90 years or 70 years on the planet and you don’t make a mistake. That’s not even realistic. You’re going to make a mistake. You’re going to mess up real bad. Keep moving … Learn from your mistakes. It’s not how you fall; its how you get up,” said Haddon. “I feel like God has given me a second chance at marriage, at life and at ministry. So now I’m determined to do it my way … Do it God’s way, but do it with my style,” Haddon said in an interview with Centric TV. “I’m solid. I’m sure about myself. I don’t need validation from people. I’ve got God. I’ve got my focus. I’ve got my babies, my wife, and I’m good.”
The music has continued to flow for Deitrick Haddon as he recorded and released a video for the song “Sinners (Saved By Grace)” a singled on the soundtrack for the new hit TV show “Saints & Sinners.” The Award-winning singer, songwriter, pastor and Reality TV’s show star partners with Grammy-winning rap legend Big Boi. The hit song continues a trend of connecting with secular artists that many churchgoers question. Haddon, Kirk Franklin, and some other modern gospel artists are fine with such collaborations. In fact, Haddon enjoyed playing himself in one of the “Saints & Sinners” episodes.
Modern gospel music should continue to gain popularity, while traditionalists will dislike the direction of musicians like Haddon. Expect honesty, if nothing else as modern gospel moves ahead.