As a multiple award-winning, dynamic performer, vocalist, songwriter and leader, Ricky Dillard is a minister of the gospel and anointed though his steeped choir direction, carving a dazzling career with a creative brilliance unparalleled among gospel’s most innovative artists.  Navigating through the musical waters over the years, Ricky Dillard was bestowed the title of Choir Master, garnering international renown and Grammy nominations, with show-stopping live performances and choreography that take fans worldwide on a powerful spiritual journey.  Having dutifully celebrated his silver edition 25th anniversary in 2013, Ricky Dillard and his choir New G continues to lead the way in celebrating this music milestone, delivering the cutting-edge sounds and songwriting that have been a hallmark in his acclaimed ministry on this live-recorded ninth album, the aptly-titled Amazing, on Animated Entertainment/Light Records/Entertainment One Music. 
 
Standing firm on the word, Ricky elaborates his life and ministry has unfolded in the vein of Romans 8:28 (NIV), “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  From the beginning, Ricky’s spirit was moved by the choir as his mother served in this capacity.  Growing up in the church, the Chicago native began leading his first choir at the tender age of 5.  The start of his gift for music ministry began upon hearing the James Cleveland & Aretha Franklin rendition of “Amazing Grace.”  With the help of choir director and mother of The Clark Sisters, Dr. Mattie Moss Clark, by the tenth grade, Ricky had created his high school’s first gospel choir and became its director.  It was under the tutelage of revered Chicago pastor and music director Reverend Milton Brunson where Ricky learned how to truly lead a choir.
  
Winning the McDonald’s Chicagoland Choir Competition in 1989 propelled Ricky Dillard to new heights of visibility having merely established New G the year prior.  The launch of his recording career started at the ripe age of 23 with Malaco Records.  Ricky Dillard and New G’s debut album The Promise was released in 1990, generating a Grammy nomination and a GMWA Excellence Award.  Awareness surrounded the choir and a performance on the very first Stellar Awards led to even more opportunities in the film and television genre.
 
Working with Patti LaBelle and Albertina Walker for a PBS television special opened the door for Ricky to lead the choirs for the 1992 film Leap of Faith starring Steve Martin and the 1993 film Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit starring Whoopi Goldberg.  By 2003, Ricky was the choir director and featured in The Fighting Temptations starring Cuba Gooding, Jr. and BeyoncĂ© Knowles.  Ricky simply describes the journey by referencing Proverbs 18:16 (NKJV) “A man’s gift makes room for him, and brings him before great men.”  Hence, the name association and title Choir Master aptly applies.  “I’ve been given an assignment in the earth to train, empower, structure, teach, father and mentor choir leaders for the Kingdom’s building,” he says.  Through the years and in between his varied assignments, Ricky Dillard and New G have skillfully managed to follow an ordained path releasing several albums including Worked It Out (1996), No Limit (2000), The 7th Episode (2007) and finally Keep Living (2011), with each album building upon the other in signifying the New G sound.
 
The New G sound the Choir Master has established over the years consists of “full, big sound in the vocals.”  Mixing vibrato with the tone to creatively sing sounds and clearly articulate words, the authenticity that Ricky delivers on is sought after by other choirs.  Still inherent in his current creations, Ricky acknowledges the sound has evolved slightly to encompass more praise and worship sensibilities, but the roots of the New G sound run deep.
 
Prior to the recording of Amazing, Ricky was diagnosed with sarcoidosis, an unknown inflammatory disease that can affect the body’s organs, in this case Ricky’s lungs.  For months the doctors could not determine the cause as Ricky was becoming increasingly thin and lesions appeared on his face.  It was also a rough 2012 musically, as his spirit was not connected to his creations and there were increasing changes in his vocal ability.  Finally a dermatologist identified the disease attacking Ricky’s system.  “It gave me peace to let the people know that it wasn’t what they thought and we all go through things with our bodies as we get older. I was glad to identify it and be able to make people aware of how it can affect them. I am doing well, I’m on medication and I thank God. The pain and suffering that was said about me, God’s grace carried us and now God has prepared a table before my enemies. It really was worth it all,” confesses Ricky. 
 
Recorded at New Faith International Church in Matteson, Illinois, Amazing became a testimony of Ricky’s prior year.  Enlisting the benevolence of his former choir members to round out the sound of New G, for Ricky, Amazing represents two and a half decades of serving the industry and the people.  “It is a great moment to proclaim the amazing presence and grace of the Lord.”  The aptly titled first single “Amazing” firmly establishes its place as an authentic New G original with contemporary sensibilities.  Propelling to the Top 10 on Billboard’s Gospel charts, Ricky Dillard is fortunate to sing praises of God’s amazing wonder, noting “I’m glad to say you’re mine.”
 
With its simple piano combined with its powerful words on humility, “Be Weak” confesses our humanity.  “So many of us try to be strong and perfect as possible and we find ourselves failing because we have been born in sin and shaped by our iniquity. Guess what, it’s okay to be weak…Thank God for grace, because grace will pick you up when you fall.”
 
“I wrote a song called ‘Grace’ on the album that is very dear to me. I want to teach people – from the covenant of Moses to the covenant of Jesus, the scripture says in John 1:17, the law came by Moses, but grace came by Jesus and we are living a new covenant.”  Anchored in a Chaka Khan/Stevie Wonder sensibility reminiscent of the Chaka classic, “Tell Me Somethin’ Good,” the good word from Ricky Dillard admonishes, “the church must teach us what we have been brought into, and that is grace – His unmerited favor.”
 
Sunday Best season 3 winner Le’Andria Johnson shines on “Always There.”  With its full choir and traditional sound, the big drums and organ run in tandem with the big voice on the record.  For Ricky, this song serves as “a testament of the amazing grace that brought me from then to now. I look up proclaiming I’m here and it lets me know He’s always there.”  Byron Cage contributes to the peacefully serene, “Grateful,” while “I Believe” was written by JJ Hairston and features Chicago Pastor, artist and radio personality DeAndre Patterson.  Each song lends itself to God being the ultimate source of faith and rule of conduct for us all.
 
Chock-full of praise-worthy songs with titles including “Everything,” “Higher” and “Celebrate The King,” Amazing brings the Choir Master’s ministry vision to pass.  Having written the vision for his choir years ago, the spirit transcends in the natural realm.  “All the things I wrote in the ministry vision – a praying ministry, a word ministry, a loving ministry – it allowed us to walk into the provision of being prayer warriors and Bible scholars.  We are a loving ministry and God’s vision has come into fruition.”  A testament to his 25 years, Ricky Dillard simply desires for his legacy to be, “that I allowed as many people as possible to stand on my shoulders and walk into their destiny and dreams.”  And that is simply amazing.