The number 10 is stamped with spiritual power. It's meaning, divine order and harmony, is the message threaded throughout Ricky Dillard's latest body of work, intentionally titled, TEN. As a follow-up to 2015's Amazing, TEN not only marks his 10th studio album, but also a direct letter to anyone who has endeared massive trials and in need of that boosting pep talk in order to embrace the light awaiting on the other side.
"I wanted to make sure the message around this project was, 'things are getting ready to be in divine order, especially for the Kingdom and believers," Dillard affirms. "I want to let [people] know do not fret, do not be afraid and do not wallow, because God's got our back in this season, if we believe."
With over 25 years of experience in the entertainment industry as a "Choir Master Extraordinaire" and singer - songwriter, Dillard charges forward with a passion to unfold the greatness of being in the presence of God, an element he believes is missing and plans to reiterate until the lack of understanding His grace and power is no more.
"To be a choir master, you have to be spiritually connected to God for Him to download into your spiritual GPS, so that you can be directed into His presence. He's already given us the formula for how He likes to be praised. I'm in the presence of God and I love it!"
Due to his grandmother and mother's allegiance to the church, Dillard found himself among the pews and pulpit often. Music struck a chord with the Chicago-bred talent and by the age of five, he was directing the choir at St. Bethel Baptist Church.
"I just got engulfed in it all my life. Even becoming a teenager, I was either going to preach or I was going to do music."
Raised in a household filled with records like "Amazing Grace" by Aretha Franklin and James Cleveland, The Institutional Radio Choir, and Albertina Walker, to name a few, Dillard became locked into the sounds and it was only natural that his sights and ambitions would soar toward music ministry.
"I didn't have to choose Gospel, but God anointed me from my mother's womb to be doing what I'm doing."
Heeding to His call, Dillard formed the New Generation Chorale, known as New G in 1988 and released their debut project, Promise in 1991, which charted at No. 15 on the Billboard charts. It's a feat that continued with the eight albums that followed. In 2000, the chorale's No Limit made waves on the Christian Albums chart, 2004's Unplugged held down the Independent Albums chart, while Keep Living and Amazing gained praise on the Billboard 200. Adding to the abundance of accolades is Dillard's two grammy nominations in 1992 and 2015.
For Dillard, music ministry also serves as a healing power for self.
"”The Convent Medley” that we put on the Amazing record, that song kept me together all through my journey," he reveals. "Being able to speak about where I've been, the trial or the tribulation to someone in the audience that doesn't even know what to do because they're so consumed by the trial, I want to be able to have a song that will release a deliverance. I want to always approach a stage sensitive to a move of God and what He wants me to say or do."
It's evident in Dillard's on stage presentation that the lyricism breathes through him. While directing the choir, it isn't rare to see his slim figure showcasing a few moves as he offers up praise. With TEN, and the release of it's leading single, "I Survived it", there's an urgency wrapped in being fully aware that by allowing God to be God, there is nothing He can't handle for your life and you will get through.
Wrapped in 14 empowering tracks, Dillard wanted a balance record that offers the known feel and sound of a Ricky Dillard project, but also welcomes new listeners to help push the word of Jesus.
"The message is God's power is overwhelming," Dillard explains. " I say ministry is like a bowl of soup, and so is this record."
Come September 15, get ready to be fed.