Gospel singer Ricky Dillard was born and raised in Chicago, where he inherited a love for gospel music from his mother and grandmother, and started singing in a church choir at an early age. Dillard soon began directing the youth choir in his church (starting at the age of five), and later the young adult choirs. It was around this time that Dillard came across two specific recordings that inspired him to pursue gospel singing even more zealously: James Cleveland and Aretha Franklin's "Amazing Grace" with the Southern California Community Choir, and one by the Institutional Radio Choir from Brooklyn, New York. Shortly thereafter, Dillard began drawing inspiration from other gospel performers as well, including Dr. Charles G. Hayes, Marvin Yancy, Thomas Whitfield, Pastor Albert James, and the Tribal Mass Choir. Dillard continued to direct choirs locally and was a member of the Thompson Community Singers.
In the early '90s, Dillard started issuing solo albums -- supported by his New Generation Ensemble, later shortened to New G -- that often merged gospel with dance music. These releases included 1991's Grammy-nominated Promise, 1993's A Holy Ghost Take-Over, 1995's Hallelujah, and 1996's Worked It Out. Starting with 2000's No Limit, Dillard's albums regularly peaked within the Top 10 of Billboard's gospel chart. Keep Living (2004) and Amazing (2014), the latter of which was also nominated for a Grammy, managed to make an impact on the Billboard 200 as well. ~ Greg Prato