Deitrick Haddon: A Beautiful Soul
His is a story of the best-laid plans of mice and men and what miracles God can make of them. Not that Deitrick Haddon hadn’t already had a great deal of success in the gospel arena, given a string of hits since bowing in 2000, including his latest CD, Church On the Moon, which debuted at number one on the gospel charts last year and was one of the top ten best-selling gospel CDs of 2011.
But in 2010, Haddon stretched beyond the comfort zone he forged in gospel into film with the release of a movie titled Blessed & Cursed – featuring Sheryl Lee Ralph, Karen Clark-Sheard, J. Moss, Mali Music, Rance Allen, and Deitrick’s wife, Damita. It was to be the first of a series of films that would build a cinematic brand for the GRAMMY-nominated singer and lay the groundwork for the widespread theatrical release of future films at the nation’s box office.
“We had a plan to do a series of films that go straight to DVD. We figured that maybe by the sixth or seventh film we’d have enough money and a system behind us to do a big budgeted film for release in theaters,” Haddon explains. “The goal was to sell 20,000 units and now it’s passed 200,000 units. It flew off the shelves all over the country. They’re restocking all the time. The UK went crazy over it, and we released it in Africa and Ireland. Last year, Showtime picked up the project and airs it almost every month.”
So successful was the first CD that Haddon secured a meeting with AMC Theatre officials who found his second project, A Beautiful Soul, so compelling that Haddon celebrated his first theatrical release on May 4th when the film premiered in theaters in 12 major markets across the country. “It’s miraculous. The wonderful people at AMC saw the film and said, ‘We’ve got to help you get this movie out there in theaters, and they partnered with us to go to 12 major markets.”
Haddon wrote, directed and stars in the film, the story of Andre Stephens, a cynical R&B superstar who has success, fame and fortune, but has lost his spiritual way. When Stephens’ perfect life is shattered in a brutal attack that leaves him and his best friend clinging to life, he is forced to make a choice that could forever alter the course of his life and lead him back to gospel.
Acting is something that has come natural for Haddon, who shares little in common with the film’s protagonist, except for the fact that there was almost a time when his gospel successes were going to his head.
“When I first came out,” Haddon recounts, “I was young and people started feeling me, but I have a strong foundation when it comes to my family, eight brothers and sisters and they’re raw and will tell you the truth. Also reality set in. I thought I was this Detroit superstar but once you start traveling on the road, you start running into people that can sing you under a pew.”
Those early days are well behind the artist who is presently on tour to promote the movie that also stars Harry Lennix, Vanessa Bell Calloway, Golden Brooks, Leslie Ann Brandt and Bishop Noel Jones. “I’ve been doing a fan appreciation tour where I go ahead and show clips of the film and give away DVDs and t-shirts and CDs.”
Early success has only served to accelerate the 39-year-old gospel sensation’s forward progression.
“We’re already planning to go to production for our next film in July. It’s called Church Rock,” says the Detroit native. “It’s about contemporary gospel and the struggle of young people trying to be heard in our business. Prayerfully, we’re going to have all our gospel artists in it, like Krush Groove did back in the day (1985). I would love to see all of my favorite gospel artists together in a film.”
Ironically, Deitrick isn’t the only one in his household to have been bitten by the acting bug. His wife Damita, who co-starred with Haddon in Blessed & Cursed, is prepping a film of her own for production. And though he is spending a great deal more time in Hollywood these days, Haddon – a licensed preacher, who at one time took over senior pastor duties at the Detroit-based church his father founded – is hardly forfeiting his lucrative gospel career.
“I’m doing it all. I have a brand-new CD coming out in the fall called R.E.D. Restoring Everything Damaged,” Haddon reveals. “I believe it’s going to become my absolute best project ever. I’ve got about 35 songs done, and I just started a choir.
“We have about 100 voices in Los Angeles called LXW (League of Extraordinary Worshippers). They’re featured in my new single called “Church Rock” coming out soon. We’re going to record them live in L.A. sometime in early September, and they’re the first project on my label, ManHaddon Entertainment.
In the meantime, Haddon is also busy promoting the A Beautiful Soul soundtrack, features original music from Kierra Sheard, Canton Jones, Fonzworth Bentley and Faith Evans.
“People are ready,” he notes. “They’re prepared and excited to help us and they understand that we don’t have a big movie studio behind us. We’re doing this on a wing and a prayer.”
Copyright 2012, watchgmctv.com. For permission to repost or reprint, click here.
About the Writer
Lisa Collins, a Los Angeles native and resident, is a syndicated columnist, writer, publisher and former Billboard Magazine columnist. Her career in gospel began in 1988 with her creation of "Inside Gospel," a daily/weekly syndicated radio series that provided news, profiles and product updates relative to the gospel music community. For the next eight years, she would also serve as executive producer of the show that was broadcast in more than 100 markets nationwide. Collins has also served as a segment producer for BET and authored well over 300 articles on a variety of issues for a number of national publications from Essence to Upscale. Her background in the field of entertainment reporting is extensive, featuring cover stories and interviews with the likes of Richard Pryor, Michael Jackson and Prince.
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