What’s your approach to line writing & arranging? Particularly on songs like “HE TURNED IT.”

“HE TURNED IT” was an original composition I wrote, I was trying to do something totally different. At that time approaching that Keep Living album, praise and worship were taking over fast. My style was a different sound of gospel that’s contemporary, not even the Kirk Franklin contemporary but this new wave of Christian music. The radios were going crazy. We were losing the foundation of what gospel was, but I guess it was an add-on of gospel.

When I wrote that particular tune, I was trying to be edgier. Write a message of something that happened in my life, that God turned around for me. I put that particular musical composition along with the lyrics and message of: what you go through, God turns those things around. There’s a coming out. There’s an exodus of anything that’s not comfortable, bad, or gone wrong in your life. Trouble doesn’t always last always, there’s a turning point.

3 decades in, what is your take on the music industry?

I like the fact that the youngsters are bringing gospel to a place where they feel, from their approach. My era was my era, their era is their era and I want to respect that. I don’t agree with all of it but when I first got here, people weren’t down for all I was doing. I don’t want to be what my former leaders were, I want to be more embracing to the youngsters. It’s your day, do it your way. I want to be here as a musical father to help guide, structure, and cover those who are in the run now, who are the face of present-day gospel. I’m down for it. Some I agree, some I don’t agree, but I have my own lane. When you get in your lane, you stay in your lane, and can’t nobody move you out of your lane. [laughs] I embrace the new sounds of gospel. It’s a genre, the sounds aren’t all the same.

How do you maintain a classic and consistent choir sound amongst every other gospel artist striving to “modernize”?

I’ve been here for 32 years. I’ve been doing what I’m doing, I’m comfortable by reaching out to expand what I do. I try to stay true to what I was, true to what I’ve started while expanding it to reach different artists and different people. Take on some of the approaches of the new sound of gospel, infuse it, and bring it together with what I’ve already started. Expand it to where music’s going creatively from other sounds of gospel, or music period. Whatever’s hot up there, you try to tap in and fuse it into what you’re doing, it might bring forth something fresh and different. That’s what we try to do.

When are you doing your Verzuz with Hezekiah Walker?

I don’t think me and Hez will be doing a Verzuz, he already did a Verzuz with John P. Kee. Many people are trying to get me to do a Verzuz, it becomes a little competitive. A lot of people have been doing a spin on it where it’s become more celebratory, but some make it competitive. I don’t want any artist to feel any kind of way where people feel they’re better than the other, I’m better than them, or make me feel lesser. If it’s an encouragement of all or both parties’ music, then we could do that. “He’s better than you,” that becomes a not nice to have to deal with and face your brother or sister in the industry. I don’t like that.

Goals for yourself at this point of your career?

I want to continue to do the music. God continues to lead and guide, give instruction. All these years, the Lord has given instructions on every album I’ve done. Moving forward, He‘ll continue to give instructions on what the message is, how we’re going to administer it, the songs, the writing. I’d love to find other streams of income, businesses and starting possibly a restaurant. I’m also interested in fashion. I love fashion, I’d love a Ricky Dillard clothing line.

What can we expect from the clothing line?

Suits, shoes, jeans, even some hip hop gear. Different things. Top hats for brothers, shirts, ties, different things brothers like to wear when they see me wear something. I’m a bright brother. There are some brothers in the world who aren’t afraid of color or different fashion. I’d like to make a way to make brothers comfortable with fashion, not feeling like they need to compromise their masculinity for a look. It’s so much that you can do to be fashionable.