Deitrick Haddon isn't your typical gospel artist. With a sharp fashion sense, rock star moves and even a little bit of scandal under his belt, Deitrick has had to reconcile his big, creative personality with the religious community his whole life. We spoke to him all about his first loves, his career challenges, and of course, his gear. Read the full interview below, and tune into Preachers of L.A., premiering October 9 at 10/9c!
What are some of your style inspirations?
I don't really get inspiration from anybody else, I like to draw from my inner fashion spirit...One thing I can say, though, I was always impressed with Michael Jackson's boldness to express himself, and Prince’s boldness in expressing himself, and I always felt like wow, that would be fantastic in gospel music to have an artist who was bold enough to express himself.
What do you consider biggest fashion risk?
I don’t think I've ever taken any risk like that. I find a way to make it work. Even if it’s crazy, people say 'Deitrick can pull that off.' The last thing I did... I wore this robe that came all the way to my ankles so it looked like a skirt, or a kilt, and I had a leather denim shirt over top of that, it looked super dope, like something out of The Matrix! And people were going crazy over it like ‘Deitrick’s wearing a skirt now!’ But it’s not a skirt, it’s a robe. I just don’t think there’s a real risk unless you’re cross dressing or something like that [laughs], but no I haven’t really had anything that really challenged me.
How many times have you been in love?
[pause] [laughs] I was in love with my first love in high school, that’s one. Then I got married, that’s two. That didn’t work. Neither one of those worked. So, and now I'm in love again, so I will say the three times. Three times that I can really say that I was in love. Yeah.
What is your most memorable experience professionally?
Just being Grammy-nominated was a big deal for me even though I didn’t win. Just to be named among the elite, it was special for me...Another monumental time of excitement was when I won a 2012 Dove Award for Contemporary Gospel Artist of the Year. I always dreamed I'd win a Dove Award, it’s a big Christian award where people like the likes of me, Michael W. Smith, Steven Curtis Chapman, and for all these big Christian artists: that was one to get.
What has been your biggest challenge in your career?
Well, my challenge has always been church folk. It's been the quest to be different, to be me, to be creative in a non-creative system. Gospel music is not really designed for artists. It’s designed for the ministry, for people who wanna record their songs that they do on Sunday morning. So when you’re actually an artist who loves to create and wear certain things or cut your hair a certain way or sing it differently...it’s always been a challenge to be that creative in a non-creative system.
I've seen a lot of changes through the years, though, and being a pioneer, I'm very proud of the progress I've seen in gospel music and the artists who are contributing to the advancement of gospel music. That’s been my only challenge.
I came in radical, creative and aggressive. I remember getting kicked out of churches. Once I was in D.C., the young people were going crazy over a song I had called "Chain Breaker." The pastor stopped and shut down the microphone, stood up and said she’s not gonna have this in this church! There had to be about 10,000 people there, she kicked us out of the church just for being radical and having a calling to draw young people in a way that they hadn’t seen before. That’s my only challenge. It’s not my challenge anymore now that I've matured and I know that I will always be me.
What would you tell a young version of Deitrick?
I would tell 17-year-old Deitrick: don’t allow your religious surroundings to stop the opportunity that God has placed before you to change the world and influence the world, not just the four walls of the church, but the world.
If you could write a Golden Rule, what would it be?
Never allow people or your surrorundings to influence your decision-making. Once you've made that decision, you're the one that is going to have to live out the decision you've made. When everyone else has gone after they’ve influenced you, YOU have to live down the decision they’ve made. Make a decision based on you –- what God is saying to you, and your needs, therefore if it goes good or go bad, you’ll know it was a decision you made without any outside influence.
[Photos: Oxygen Media]
Tune into 'Preachers of L.A.,' premiering October 9 at 10/9c!