Gospel music hotshot deitrick Haddon is famous for pressing boundaries with his successful religious and secular appeal. But rarely does a progressive songster like Haddon crisscross entire mediums. The music chief is blazing a big screen path for Gospel music by pairing the genre’s brightest stars (Kierra Sheard, damita) with screen veterans (Sheryl Lee ralph) in the release of his first feature film, Blessed & Cursed (Tyscot), with accompanying soundtrack—in stores now. Here’s a CCM-only glance at Haddon’s visual inspirations. What was the impetus for making the film, Blessed & Cursed? deitrick: There was a void I wanted to see filled for the Kingdom! I’ve always loved acting. I’ve always loved watching movies that star real singers, and I would ask, “why don’t we have Christian films starring my favorite Gospel artists?” Now that God has blessed me with a fearless team, resources and influence to get it done, it was a no-brainer. Creativity without implementation is irresponsibility! God gave it to us and it’s our responsibility to get it done. I think it’s a beginning of a new era for Gospel music. as a seasoned performer, did your onstage experience help behind the camera? deitrick: definitely. I guess it comes from actually singing in front of huge crowds. You say to yourself, “No looking back now. Give it your best shot!” I am very comfortable with the camera and with having an entire crew watch me mess up on takes 1-50. [Laughs] Kellie williams (Family Matters), an Executive Producer, was on set helping me with my acting. Her main advice was: Be natural. don’t force it. This soundtrack is hot. What role does it play in the film? deitrick: You must have a hot soundtrack to go with a hot movie! The music sets the atmosphere for the scenes and helps draw out the emotion that’s needed to deliver the story. I gotta’ shout out to my wife, damita, my sister Michelle williams, rock Nation, Claret Jai, Lowell Pye & Jessica reedy for making the soundtrack what it is. What are some of your favorite films? deitrick: I have a thing for ancient warrior movies like Gladiator, Troy, Alexander, etc. I’m also a huge fan of Spike Lee’s films. He proved you could use the big screen to deliver a strong message without having a huge budget. — Andrew Greer Deitrick Haddon urban highlights The act: Bishop T.d. Jakes The site: The sound: Black Gospel The Buzz: Hailed as America’s most popular preacher by Time magazine, Jakes is working on his second collection of Biblically-inspired love songs, Sacred Songs II, pairing the pastor with some of Gospel and r&B’s biggest names. The act: GoTTA HAvE GoSPEL! The site: The sound: r&B/Gospel/worship The Buzz: The eighth installment of Integrity’s popular compilation features 24 songs + a bonus dvd including Gospel’s hottest acts like Mary, Mary, Israel Houghton, Tye Tribbett and Marvin Sapp. The act: Jonathan Nelson The site: The sound: LIvE choir-backed Gospel! The Buzz: Stellar Award-winning songwriter’s sophomore Cd, Better Days (Integrity), lives up to the buzz, hitting #4 on the Billboard chart and #1 on JET Magazine’s Gospel chart. Watch the official video to the record’s first single, “expect the great.” CCM 47