Deitrick Haddon | Anthology: The Writer & His Music

Album Review: Deitrick Haddon | Anthology: The Writer & His Music
By Peggy Oliver

As contemporary gospel presented many important influential voices to the landscape throughout the seventies and eighties like the Crouches, the Hawkins and the Winans, the following decade would prove no exception. When Deitrick Haddon hit the nineties decade — and hit it radically hard — another chapter would soon be written as his ‘gospel soul’ imprint has heavily influenced the way most people hear gospel to this day. Coming from one of gospel’s landmark cities Detroit, Michigan, Haddon feeds his progressive praise and worship with R&B, soul and funk and everything else in between. His mix of Biblical inspiration with shadings of Prince, Michael Jackson and others have intrigued both fans, critics and the industry especially when he launched his solo career in 2002 with Lost & Found.  Though there were constant offers to crossover into the secular market, this singer/songwriter/producer and now pulpit minister remained focused in his ultimate purpose; not only to encourage and edify the body in song but to bring fruit in other areas including education. The case in point was maximizing the mass media in bringing Bible stories to the next generation with his debut film, Blessed & Cursed, based on the story of Saul & David in 1 Samuel.  But when all is said and done about Haddon’s explosive ministry, he will first be remembered for how he shaped the ‘gospel soul’ movement.

Haddon is one of the few gospel artists who have successfully performed with a vocal ensemble (Voices of Unity) and as a soloist. Anthology: The Writer & His Music.  centers on Haddon & V.O.U.’s catalog from Tyscot Records. Considering the choices on some artist compilations that strictly rely on the biggest hits, Anthology is a satisfying representation of Haddon’s body of work as a singer/songwriter and choir director.
One Nation (from 1999’s Chain Breaker) delivers a message of oneness propelled by the funky Minneapolis Sound: “Let’s go back to God/ Back to the place where he seek His face.”  The remix of “Anybody Here” (from 2004’s Super Natural) is fueled by intense tango rhythms and tightly interspersed classic church foot stomping.   Fans of Vanessa Bell Armstrong will surely appreciate V.O.U.’s Melody Armstrong as Haddon’s duet partner. With the hooks inspired by the pop anthem, “Land of a Thousand Dances,” “I Gotta Praise (Holy One)” finds Haddon & V.O.U. keeping the pedal to the metal on this eight minute excursion from 2007’s Together in Worship featuring another V.O.U. member Sean Hardin sealing the deal at the end. Those juicy guitar drops and Haddon’s sizzling tenor serves up southern soul for “I Can’t Praise You Enough” (from 2004’s All Star Edition). “Walking Dead” clearly takes its clues from Michael Jackson’s Thriller — from the intro, to the contagious funk beat and Haddon’s Jackson-like inflections — but with a spiritually encouraging message: “To change your heart and change your mind so that God can bring you a better life.” Of course, any Haddon collection is incomplete without the equally gifted family members. “Potter” (from 1998’s This Is My Story) speaks on the male and women’s perspective of seeking restoration:  “Here I am Lord, broken in sin/Take me and put me back together again.” Deitrick’s wife Damita Haddon brings her warm soprano to the mix. After a thorough listen to Bishop Clarence and Pastor Joyce Haddon, “Chain Breaker -Jiffy Cornbread Mix” (another entry from Super Natural), it is pretty obvious where Deitrick inherited his charismatic personality.
The aforementioned on Anthology: The Writer & His Music is just a slice of Haddon’s adventurous musical genius.  As long as Haddon has those creative juices running in his veins and an uncompromising love for Jesus, the state of urban gospel should remain in very steady hands.   4 out of 5 stars.
Peggy Oliver
The Urban Music Scene 

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