He’s very much an alien, but not like “Phone Home” lyricist Lil Wayne. Deitrick Haddonhails from planet Detroit with a strict mission: To change the world’s perspective of what Gospel music should sound and look like. Decked out in colorful bowties, edgy jackets and fitted menswear, this Gospel singer plans to take his audience to church… on the moon, that is. And did we mention that he was recently nominated for the BET Award for Best Gospel Album? VIBE Vixen exchanged more than a few words with the chip off the old block about the ill mindsets of the world, why he’s a fan of “secular” music heavyweights and, of course, his taste of style. -Niki McGloster
Tell me who Deitrick Haddon is.
The core of who I am has to stem from where I come from. I’m from Detroit, and I’ve really been in church all of my life. My dad was a bishop, so I would be on considered a PK, a preacher’s kid. The foundation of who I am came from a religious background. However, I use those religious principles to lay a foundation for my life. I use that to stand on, and I’ve grown into a solid man that’s very bold about the choices that I make, very bold in how I approach things. I believe that I have purpose to change people’s perception of what people have called gospel music.
Take me back. What was your start in gospel music?
In Detroit, we had a lot of successful gospel artists who had crossover success, like The Clark Sisters. They had a big hit back in the day called “You Brought The Sunshine.” Of course, The Winans had many hits that crossed over, so I grew up around that, and I started out by just saying [that] I want to rep Detroit city also. I felt Detroit was known for music, not just in Gospel, but Motown. I was like, hey, I can sing too, I can dance too and I’m going to do it. I made up my mind a long time ago that I would be successful in music. I looked my dad square in the eye at 15, 16 years old and told him, ‘I’m going to be successful in music.’
What made you take the “out of this world” approach on Church On The Moon?
I’m a very creative guy, and it just dropped in my heart. The idea popped in my mind and I said why not. When I start getting these powerful lyrics, you just roll with it. I love gospel music; I been in it all my life. I’m an advocate of it, but I refuse to fall in sync with what everybody is doing. I think that’s how that idea really came. The record company was calling me to get into the studio to do another record, but I said to myself that I’m not going to do the same old stuff. I’m not going to recycle lyrics, the same old sound; I’m ready to take it somewhere else. It’s church on the moon! It’s gospel, but it’s out of this world. It’s church, but it’s in another place. It’s from a whole ‘nother perspective. I set out to articulate the sound and the music differently than anybody else right now in the game.
How do you think you compare to Chris Brown, Trey Songz and other “secular” artists that millions of people are listening to?
In the future, I’m going to be their competition. I mean, in my own way, but I believe God-inspired music belongs out there on the radio right next to a Drake record, a Lil Wayne record. The only difference with my music is I’m going to say something positive. It’s not going to be about the sex and perversion and all this other stuff like we’re not intelligent. It’s going to be real music. One thing about back in the day, like soul music, they said something. When they talked about love, they talked about it for real. They weren’t just talking about they want every girl in the world and I want her to do this and that and I want to do this to you. All this foolishness! I think people are ready for something that will empower them, something that will edify them. They want the beat; they want the feeling.
What are the biggest issues that you want people of this world to escape from or be saved from?
I feel like a lot of people feel like they’re trapped into where they came from. Like if you’re born in the hood, that’s it. Man, come on! You’ve got to evolve. Anything that doesn’t evolve is a freak of nature. God created everything on the planet to evolve and to change. It’s springtime now, right? But this is not the same grass that was here last year. Everything is evolving and growing. I feel like, you know, we get too locked into that. You definitely gotta respect where you come from, and you use that to catapult you to where you’re going. You are what you think, you know? Whatever you think you are, that’s what you’ll be. If people elevate their minds, that’s what they’ll set your mind to do.
Who would you love to work with to bridge that gap between the genres of music?
I’m a fan of anybody that’s excellent at what they do. People like Jay-Z, people like Mary J, Kanye West, Usher, they are all great at what they do. If they can respect my talent, I would love to work with them. I would love to work with anybody that’s about making some moves and making something big. I’m not that religious guy that’s self-righteous. I believe you gotta honor and respect great talent, and if the opportunity presents itself for me to work with anybody that can respect what I do, hey, we can make it pop. We can make it happen.
Let’s jump into fashion for a minute, though. Explain your style. You might just be the best-dressed gospel artist I know [Laughs]!
[Laughs] I’m heavy into fashion. I believe it’s apart of your image. For so long, in gospel music, it wasn’t about swag. It was about being anointed and getting up there screaming and hollering, and people don’t care what they put on. I don’t believe in that! I believe you gotta be excellent. If going to really represent God, you gotta have some swag period.
[Laughs] I like that.
Yes, I don’t walk out the door unless I’m confident about what I’m rocking.
Do you style yourself?
I style myself, but if I’ve got stuff going on that’s really heavy, I have several stylists. Kim Buford styles me a lot and also Mia Thomas
Nice. What’s your favorite piece of clothing? I peeped that you rock the bowties and the jackets, but what’s one must-have for you?
I really don’t have specifics; it’s really what I see. I like fitted clothes. I can go into a Gucci or Diesel, and I like to go to boutique stores where people don’t really go. I go to a lot of vintage stores. I take the stuff and go get it tailored. I just racked up on a bunch of old school suits. I take it to my tailor and he fits it to me like it was made for me, and I’ll rock a crazy bowtie. It’s all about your tie, your shirt and your shoes, you know? I think that’s what’s coming back; the whole vintage style.
I totally agree, and I love when a guy takes pride in what he has on. Lastly, explain what your hopes are for the future, not just in your career but also your hopes for the world.
I hope that we’ll find a way to love each other and come together without disaster in the world. It’s always when trouble comes is when we learn how to come together. Why can’t we just love each other and come together when it’s not a disaster? So, I would hope to see more love in the future. As far as I’m concerned, I would like for the music business at large, not just gospel music, to be different because I existed, because I did it. That’s my hope for the future. I want people to say, ‘Okay, he contributed something different and open up a path and blaze a trail for a whole ‘nother genre to evolve.’