Todd Dulaney: Major League to Ministry
There are many days when I’m on Youtube for hours, searching for new music, listening to some of my faves or just watching the random suggestions that pop up. It was one of those such days, when I came across a song, “Pulling Me Through”, by Todd Dulaney. I had never heard of him prior to this, but was immediately moved by his heartfelt performance of this song. Now about 3 years later, this song has become one of my favorite Inspirational songs, and I had no idea that I’d have the opportunity to talk with the former major league baseball player, not only about that song, but about his upcoming project. Todd’s story is an interesting one, having gone from being drafted by the New York Mets in 2002, to traveling and performing background vocals for Grammy Award winning gospel artist, Smokie Norful. Since then, he has worked and performed with countless award winning artists such as Vanessa Bell Armstrong, Jessica Reedy, Maurette Brown-Clark, Michelle Williams, Donnie McClurkin, Fred Hammond, Dr. Bobby Jones, Earnest Pugh, TRIN-I-TEE 5:7, Nicole and David Binion, Jonathan Nelson, and Tye Tribbett. In addition, Todd has made television appearances on BET Bobby Jones Gospel, TBN “Praise The Lord”, 15th Street Live, Atlanta Gospel Live, BBTV, TCT “I’m Just Sayin” and the 2011 Merge Summit, has become a Stellar Award nominated artist and most recently signed with eOne Gospel.
Todd Dulaney’s ultimate goal is to uphold the message of Christ above the brand of the artist. He lives by the very motto that reads: “Without the Christ of the Gospel, we don’t have Gospel/Christian music.“ Check out our 1-on-1 with Todd Dulaney as he shares on going from being in the major leagues to being in full time ministry, his upcoming new album and more!
Mike Sanford: How you doing Todd?
Todd Dulaney: I’m well, how are you?
MS: I’m pretty good, I can’t complain. Thanks for giving us this time Todd!
TD: Mike, thanks for interviewing me! I definitely appreciate it!
MS: I know that you are now signed with EOne. Can you tell us a little about that?
TD: Yeah man. You know, the independent grind is every day, 24-hrs a day. It’s non-stop trying to get people to listen to your music; Trying to get people to appreciate what you’re doing and for me and my family to get signed to a major label, it takes a lot of weight off of what we’re doing. Not only that, I’m just excited for people to hear the music. Like you said you heard “Pulling me Through”, but there were so many people who didn’t hear it, so I’m excited to get on another platform to reach a greater audience of people.
MS: You played baseball for the New York Mets, prior to singing. How was that transition? I mean it’s like two different worlds!
TD: It was probably the biggest struggle of my life because everything I was doing wasn’t looking normal. I wasn’t making good decisions. To walk away from a lot of money, to not knowing if I’m going to be able to make money from leading worship at all. I didn’t even know, I just knew that I was called to do it. So, my family and people that loved me were like ‘man, you’re crazy’! And it took years before it really manifesting and people were like ‘okay maybe you weren’t so dumb after all’. Thank God I had my wife in my corner or else I really would have felt dumb.
MS: Wow! Baseball is one of the top sports financially, so that must have really been a God thing! So, we can expect your new album this year?
TD: Actually, it will be out the 1st quarter of 2015, but you can expect the new single probably closer to the end of summer. We’re unsure of what the single will be, but man I’m really excited and I think it’s going to be my best work yet.
MS: Who are you working with on the new album?
TD: The same guy who produced the album last time, Jamel Kimbrough, I stuck with him and we really pushed it! One of the features on the album is with a girl named Tiff Joy, and she has a song she’s singing on now with Ricky Dillard called “Amazing”.
MS: Oh okay, yeah she’s great!
TD: Yeah man, I’m a big fan of hers! And there’s another young lady from South Africa who we have and she is a powerful woman as well. Like you said, I really am reaching to corporate praise and worship. Songs that everybody can sing and I wanted to reach over into the other nations and I knew that she could help me do that.
MS: That’s amazing! So are you planning to do any touring? What’s that looking like for you?
TD: As soon as the single comes out we’ll begin doing a radio tour, but next year when the album comes out we’ll put a real tour in place. You know things could change, because with the single that could bring a lot of opportunities as well. MS: There are a lot of gospel artists out there who really make great music as well. What is going to make Todd Dulaney a different piece to the gospel music puzzle?
TD: I just think that I’m going to display the message of the gospel over the brand of the artist. It’s sad to say, but I think it’s kind of a lost art. Today, the brand of the artist is more important than the message of the Gospel. I think that’s what’s causing me to be successful. We hide the musicality behind the message and we try to make sure that the message of Christ is on display way louder than anything I can do with my voice. I think that’s what going to distinguish us and it’s going to bring people.
MS: I know that a lot of gospel music is very situation and very experiential, so what inspired your song “Pulling Me Through”?
TD: For me, it was the whole transition from baseball to not knowing what I was doing. I wrote that song in that middle time. It was actually on my 25th birthday that I wrote that song and man I had hit rock bottom around that time. I was just released by the New York Mets and I was just trying to figure out what I was going to do. I didn’t know if I had another gift, I didn’t know if I could sing and I definitely didn’t know I could sing professionally, so I was just like man how am I going to make a living…how am I going to do this? So the part that came to me first was “He’ll never walk out on you, no never, no never…” and that message just started ringing out in my head because I needed to hear that from the Lord. Once I began to sing that and play that on the piano over and over again, I knew I had to surround that with a message. I knew that part, had to be the big part of the song, but I just began to surround it with “Through all that I’ve gone through, Lord, it’s been You pulling me through”.
MS: Man, that is one powerful song. what else do you have going on besides gearing up for the single and new album?
TD: The only thing I’m doing right now is traveling and taking spot dates. I go out at least 3 or 4 times a month, and just holding and waiting until we release the single and I believe everything is going to shift into another gear then.
MS: I’ve also read that you’ve worked with a plethora of your peers. Who haven’t you worked with yet that you’re looking forward to working with?
TD: Probably Mali Music. I’m really excited to work with him one day. We had an opportunity to connect and talk and after the conversation with him I believe he’s called to be where he is and infect that side of music with the message of Christ.
MS: Is there an artist who you would like to write for?
TD: I would say Nicole Mullen…
MS: Okay, love her!
TD: Yeah man, and also I would say like a Yolanda Adams. I think that if we could put one of those big ballad voices on there. I think we couldn’t go wrong. MS: Yolanda is an incredible artist. I was watching the BET Awards, and she just really put it down! In terms of this new chapter in your life, what are you most excited about?
TD: For me, I’ve believed in myself for a long time and believed in what God has put inside of me and sometimes you start to feel like your trippin’. Like, maybe I’m not anointed; I’m not supposed to do this. So to finally get a chance to do this on the highest level in Gospel music or Christian music? Man, that’s what I’m most excited about because I believe that the world would get a chance to see what God has showed me about myself. I’ve just been holding on to this stuff and this next season of my life is going to be the most exciting because I’ll get to do what I’ve been begging God to let me do.
MS: Well that’s good news! And I hope people would open their hearts and ears to what you have to sing. I’m excited for you and honored to have the chance to speak with you because I’ve been listening to your music on Youtube for a few years.
TD: Thank you so much Mike and I can’t wait for you to hear the new stuff! I think you’re really going to like it!
Listen to Todd Dulaney’s hit song “Pulling Me Through”
All Photos © 2014 Jason McCoy & Images by Marc Anthony