Victory Belongs To Jesus gospel hitmaker Todd Dulaney is in 254 for a concert slated for this evening at CITAM Karen. Grace Wachira speaks to the worship powerhouse on his musical journey and what keeps him grounded
Growing up, did you always want to do music?
No. Not in my wildest dreams! I was bent on baseball and that is what I pursued. Where I come from, professional sports is a big deal. You’re thought of a superstar. That is what I did until 2011.
How did the transition come about?
Well, I was a background vocalist for Pastor Smokie Norful then. He had amazing songs and I enjoyed singing behind the scenes, learning the ropes and seeing how things are done until I decided to venture into music as an individual.
After I gave my life to Jesus, I started out in praise and worship. It was a smooth transition. A lot of athletes try to do music back home, so people are open to the fact it could happen.
I do gospel music because I believe in the message and what it stands for. At the end of the day, I found myself and I discovered that I am created to praise and worship God. Baseball couldn’t give me what God has given me. I believe in the message and it needs to be heard. It is God that keeps me going and the desire to see Him preached.
Is that how you settled on praise and worship music?
Yes! It is what I was created for, in essence, we all are created to serve God. My role is to lead people to God and I do that through praise and worship music.
God moves in our praise and worship and that has made me stick to ministering. At first, it was a bit tough penetrating into the market and getting an audience. Word was that my sound was not your typical gospel, that I needed to change it — I stood my ground. Eventually, it ministered to people and became accepted.
Your album, A Worshipper’s Heart, was last year nominated for a Grammy as well as Dove Awards in previous years. What did that mean to you?
It reassures me that I am doing what God intended me to do. I thank God that there was that recognition and that means my music has touched the lives of many.
Some of your biggest songs are The Anthem and Victory Belongs To You. Talk to us about your writing process.
Christ is my biggest inspiration. Also, I try to have songs that everyone can sing to. The Anthem was actually a cover I did by a group in Australia — it really touched people.
When I write my songs, I am inspired by the fact that I want to shine the spotlight on Jesus. I want to show the whole world how good God is. How He is the centre of life and that helps me put together lyrics that speak what He is to me.
Straight off the plane, you had a guitar on your back. So can we expect you’ll be strumming away during the concert?
Yes, I will be playing it at the concert. It’s acoustic, and all self-taught really, just like the piano. Music is in me — it is who I am.
A lot of your music videos are live recordings. Why is that?
Live music recordings capture the atmosphere and emotions of worshipers. You capture how they feel, and cry. You feel it in the music.
How do you balance between church ministry, family and your music obligations?
It’s a juggling act. It is not easy and you have to give attention to what’s lacking. When you neglect something, you begin to feel it and then I shift attention and that’s how it pretty much works.
You have shared the stage with big artistes such as Donnie McClurkin and Nicole. What is your take on gospel acts coming together to do kingdom music?
I think if we did more of that, we would move forward, further and faster. If we do that all over, even in Africa, we would definitely see moves of God. God wants us to lock arms.
What expectations do you have for tonight and your upcoming visit to South Africa?
A lot of the times when I am in Africa, the congregations are hungry for God! They love to worship and every time, it is crazy. I expect tonight to be something I have not experienced before. I came with the whole band. It’s 10 of us and it is going to be lit!
It’s your maiden trip to Kenya though. Any experiences you can share so far?
I love the people! Everybody is so kind and sweet. I like the food. Your KFC is better than ours. It has more spicy options. I like spicy food.
Apart from the Kiswahili word I just taught you (karibu), what else have you learnt?
They taught me how to say ushindi ni wako Yesu (victory belongs to you Jesus).
What do you do for fun?
I actually enjoy shooting at the gun range. I’m a marksman.