Life After The Field: Todd Dulaney Opens Up About His Sophomore Album and Life Before Gospel
Our plans are not always in God’s plan. Gospel musician, Todd Dulaney is living proof. After spending most of his adolescent years, leading up to his adulthood years, playing baseball, Dulaney’s skills on the field quickly led him to getting drafted by the New York Mets in 2002.
However, three years later, in 2005, the MLB player discovered a newfound path. Retiring from the league, Dulaney set out to pursue a Gospel music career. With many doubters along the way, the 32-year-old never steered astray from his faith.
Maintaining prosperity and perseverance, Todd Dulaney kept striving to get to God’s calling.
He released his debut album, Pulling Me Through, in 2011 independently, and placed at No. 43 on Billboard’s Gospel Albums Chart. Subsequently, in 2013, Dulaney released Pulling Me Through again, with a label, GoldStreet Gospel. Only this time, the album placed higher on the chart, making a major breakthrough for the singer, at No. 23.
While owning his trials and tribulations, the singer aims to inspire and uplift with his voice and the message which lies in each and every lyric and melody. His latest album, A WORSHIPPER’S HEART, which released on April 15th of this year, is a prime example.
The 15-track body of work holds a variety of live songs with incredible vocal range. With his hit #1 single, “The Anthem”, along with “Victory Belongs To Jesus”, and a series of others, Dulaney climbed the charts once more, landing at #1 on Billboard’s Gospel Albums Chart.
A loving husband, father, and musician, Todd Dulaney continues to follow God’s calling as he lets us in on what ‘a worshipper’s heart’ really means to him.
Check out our exclusive interview with Mr. Dulaney, and get the deets on his transition from a baseball player to a Gospel phenomenon, the making of his sophomore major album, and much more…
Parlé Mag: You stepped away from baseball in 2005. Would you say it was harder breaking into baseball and finding success or breaking into the Gospel music industry?
Todd Dulaney: I would say the Gospel music industry. Baseball was something that I always did, so, I really didn’t think of it as like ‘breaking into baseball’. I was just pursuing my childhood passion that I always just played. So, once I became of age to enter the draft, I mean, I just did. You know what I mean? I guess, at a young age, I didn’t really see it as like ‘breaking into baseball’. But, then, after baseball, like, really experiencing success in Gospel music was really, really hard because, in Gospel music, you kind of cycle the same people over and over again. So, for new artists and new people to really kind of get in there and get a foothold in there, it’s really kind of hard.
Parlé Mag: Right. You were drafted by the Mets when you played baseball. What did you think about getting drafted, and how was that whole process?
Todd Dulaney: Well, okay, so, the thing was, the year that they drafted me, they would come out to the games and watch me play and I had no idea who they were. You know, in the stands. You know what I mean? They just looked like ordinary people coming to watch a game at your college. But, after one of the games, one of the guys went to my mom and asked—my mom and dad, ‘Is that your son?’. They told him, ‘Yeah, that’s our son.’ or whatever. They were like, ‘He’s really good and we like him.’ and ‘Man, how does he feel about like foregoing college and playing pro-ball?’ My mom was like, ‘He would love that! That’s his dream. He really doesn’t want to go to school.’ [laughs] So, she told him that—my parents came and told me like, ‘Guess what? We had a conversation with somebody and they’re talking about entering you into the draft.’ I was like, ‘Oh my gosh!’ Right away, I was like, ‘man, they can pretty much sign me for whatever.’ That was my dream. So, that was the process. Once the draft came, the New York Mets actually drafted me and they came out to my house.
Parlé Mag: Wow!
Todd Dulaney: Yeah! It was just awesome. We negotiated whatever the terms were for me to come and play. It was just an exciting time for my family and I to kind of just watch how it actually happened—them actually come to my house and everything. So, it was really, really cool.
Parlé Mag: So, being that baseball was your passion, what led you to want to pursue a music career?
Todd Dulaney: Well, see the thing was, all I knew was passion. All I knew was to live life for passion because I had never come in contact with my purpose. You know? I guess being so young—well, I can’t even attribute it to age because a lot of people find their purpose early. Some people find their purpose at like twelve years old. I’ve heard and read of people that are millionaires at twelve! [laughs] I can’t attribute it to age alone. But, for me, I hadn’t figured out purpose in life. I just had passion. Baseball was my passion. But, what happened was, when I got a real relationship with Christ—Jesus Christ, I got a whole new perspective of what I was here for. So, like, baseball all of a sudden didn’t really—it didn’t really measure up to what I found out I was here to do. I found out that I was here to lead worship and the church, and for people that need to have a musical encounter with God. So, I believed that. That was the thing that kind of just made it easier—an easy decision for me, because I was like, ‘Shoot, I got a purpose now, and my purpose really outweighs my passion.’
I knew that, if I got a chance, I could do it. Like, I could do well in the music business and music industry, and leading the people. I knew that I could do it -Todd Dulaney
Parlé Mag: Yes! How did your parents feel about your decision to switch paths in life?
Todd Dulaney: They didn’t like it at all. My mom was more vocal in the whole situation than my father because my father was just like, you know—I think my father was disappointed. He had really put a lot of effort and energy into me learning how to play the game. Traveling all over the world with me. So, my father, he just was quiet about the whole thing. My mom was like, you know, she was really kind of like, ‘You’re making a mistake.’ She even sent people to talk to me. She sent pastor Smokie Norful to talk to me. Like, ‘Can you talk to him? I think he’s making a mistake. He’s worked really hard to get here and. now, he’s just kind of throwing it away.’ and what not. So, that was my mom’s stands, and my dad was quiet. But, you know, they—I think they realized that I meant it and that I wasn’t just making a decision, but I meant it. It took a while for them to realize that. It sucked because it was really hard. You know, to walk around them and even be bold in your decision when you have nothing to show for it. You made this decision and you have no proof that it was God. You have no proof that it’s even going to work all in your favor. So, yeah, that was hard.
Parlé Mag: So, you just stepped out on faith?
Todd Dulaney: Absolutely.
Parlé Mag: After your decision, how would you say your life changed?
Todd Dulaney: Immediately after the decision, it changed for, I would say, the worse. Like I said, there was no evidence. There was no proof. There was nothing. So, here I am; I stepped away from playing professional baseball. I ended up having to move back home with my parents. You know, which was misery, because they’re looking at you like, ‘See, you should be playing ball.’ So, the immediate effect was like, ‘Ugh! What did I do?’ But, as everything kind of unfolded, I could feel that I had made the right decision. I could feel my life being more impactful for other people. Man, I just got so much joy. Like, just affecting people all over the world. Baseball was one thing; it was fun. I had so much fun doing it, but, man, look at what I’m doing now! I get to touch lives all over the world. So, it’s good now.
Parlé Mag: That’s amazing. Not only have you managed to touch people through your music, but you’ve also gotten a chance to share your talents with other important people in the industry, such as Donnie McClurkin and Fred Hammond. How was that experience, working with those proven voices in Gospel?
Todd Dulaney: What’s the word for it? I’m trying to think of the right word. It’s nerve wrecking; I would say. I guess that would be the best word because it’s like, you really, really look up to them and vocally, they’re known as some of the best. You know that they know when you’re wrong. So, it’s like, you’re always like, ‘Okay, let me just try to be like extra precise.’ because I know that these people are excellent at what they do and they’re known all over the land as the best at what they do! So, I don’t want to come into a relationship with them and they look at me like, ‘Ahhh, this is horrible. He’s horrible.’ [laughs] So, I would say it was nerve wrecking, at first, until I was able to get my feet on the ground and just be like, ‘Okay, cool. You know what? I can do this and it really doesn’t matter what anybody thinks.’
Parlé Mag: What do you hope your music will bring to the Gospel industry that could possibly draw more young people on their journey to finding God?
Todd Dulaney: I’m just hoping that people can find the music to be authentic to them. That they would be able to find an authentic worship leader—an authentic minister of the Gospel. I know that that’s an important thing for me—that I be what it is that I’m proclaiming. Not only that, but that it makes it easy for people to experience or encounter God through listening to this music. Those are the two things. That it’s an authentic artist or worshipper that they can relate to, and, then, that they can have a true encounter or experience with God through the sound of the music.
Parlé Mag: Yes! You’re just delivering the message from God!
Todd Dulaney: Yeah! Absolutely!
Watch Todd Dulaney “The Anthem” here:
Parlé Mag: Speaking of music, let’s talk about your single, “The Anthem”. What made you choose that as your lead single?
Todd Dulaney: I’m going to be honest with you. I kind of gave push back about that song. Like, I love the song and I always have. I’ve sung the song all over. Even before I recorded it, I used to sing it all the time in my praise and worship presentation. But, the label was like, ‘We really think you should record this song.’ You know, and I’m like, ‘Ehhh, I don’t know about recording it.’ Like, everybody’s recording it. Travis Greene’s recorded it; William Murphy’s recorded it—everybody recording it. I don’t want to just, you know, do a follow-up. But, when we recorded it—my team and I, we got such a powerful take of it. I was like, ‘Dang! This might be it.’ [laughs] So, when we turned it in to the label, they were like, ‘Oh my gosh! This is going to be your first single! This has to be your first single.’ It was so crazy because we didn’t turn in any of the record layout; they hadn’t heard anything else from the live recording. We turned that in because it felt so good and, right away, they said, ‘This is going to be your first single.’ I’m like, ‘You guys haven’t heard anything else!’ [laughs] But, they were sold. I’m glad because it’s really put me in a place to succeed, for real.
Parlé Mag: Definitely. You released A WORSHIPPER’S HEART earlier this year. Could you tell us a little bit about how that project and the name for it came about?
Todd Dulaney: The project was done live. We knew when we recorded the album that it was crazy powerful and that it was all worship, all night. So, the songs really really kind of threw us to our knees and threw us to worshipping God. So, we were trying to find the right—you know, what could we call it? We know what happened, and we just kind of need to put a name to what happened. We felt like ‘A Worshipper’s Heart’ would be the perfect fit for what happened. It was like a worship explosion. At the actual recording, man, we really were just knocked off of our feet just to be in the place of God. So, we felt like that title fit that night best.
Parlé Mag: It’s pretty obvious that the album did really well, too. It placed on Billboard’s charts. Did you expect for it to do as great as it did?
Todd Dulaney: No! Not at all. When I found out about that, I was just like, ‘Wow!’ [laughs] I got to say this, though. I knew that, if I got a chance, I could do it. Like, I could do well in the music business and music industry, and leading the people. I knew that I could do it, but I guess I was aiming low. My mind was just, ‘Lord, I just pray that people like the music!’ You know what I mean? That people are blessed by the music. But, for me to come in at number one on Billboard’s charts and number one at radio with “The Anthem”, this has really changed my life! My whole everything is changed now. You become in demand. People actually want to hear what you have to say. I can’t say that I really expected this, but I am so grateful! I’m grateful for the opportunity. I knew that if I could get the right opportunity, I could do something.
Parlé Mag: So, how do you feel a worshipper’s heart is different from a non-worshipper’s heart? How do you feel their perspective on life differs from someone who has found God?
Todd Dulaney: I want to make sure I say this right. I mean, with an atheist, I believe that they don’t believe anything—which is weird to me. I mean, I don’t want to say it’s weird because I don’t want to speak for anybody. But, when you say, ‘I don’t believe anything.’ Well, then, that’s what you believe. So, I just believe when we’re saying ‘A Worshipper’s Heart’, I’m not just saying that I’m a believer in Jesus Christ. That’s a Christian. To say that I’m a Christian is, ‘I’m a believer in Jesus Christ.’ But, to say, ‘I have a worshipper’s heart.’, is saying that, ‘Not only am I a Christian but I want to be close. I want to be in the same room with Christ as much as I can.’ So, that would be the difference between just somebody with a regular heart, or just even a regular everyday Christian. It’s not a knock to anybody; it’s just that, when you say, ‘I have a worshipper’s heart.’, you’re saying that ‘Man, not only am I a Christian but I’m one of the ones who desires to be where He is whenever he’s around.’ If you tell me God is going to be there, I’m going.
Parlé Mag: [laughs] Definitely understand! 2016 has already been quite the year for you and we’re only six months in. So, what do you hope the next six months will hold and what are your goals throughout the rest of the year?
Todd Dulaney: You know? I don’t know. People ask me that and I just don’t know! This is my answer. I have a hard time when I try to just find an answer. I have to just tell you what I feel. This is what I think. They way that I’ve gotten to where I am right now, is I’ve just sought God. I promised to that I would follow him wherever he told me to go. I’m like, ‘Lord, you’ve got me here just by being obedient to you.’ I didn’t really even set out a real plan for where we are right now. I was recording music—music that I felt like was from my heart to the heart of God. That’s just what I’m going to do for the rest of the year and the rest of my career because I think that’s the safest place. Do I want to tour and do I want to travel? Do I want to do more albums? Yeah, of course! But, honestly, when you asked me, ‘What do you see for the rest of the year?’, man, I just see me following God. He’s opening doors and as he opens those doors, I’m just going to walk through them and I think it all unfolds. I think, you know, and it’s crazy because I have people always asking me, ‘What’s next?’ I’m like, ‘I didn’t know we would be here!’ I didn’t plan it. So, I really don’t know. He’s got the plan, and, so, I’m just following Him. A lot of people will think that that’s deep because it’s like, ‘Oh, you’re just being deep. You got a plan.’ No, I really don’t! I just want God to show me what he wants me to do and if he doesn’t show me, guess what? We’ll sit here until he reveals what’s next.