Darryl Richmond
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Darryl Richmond


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1. I've Got Faith - 2005


Feeling a bit camera shy


Darryl Richmond was born with Gospel in his blood. He’s been on the road, playing and singing traditional Gospel and Quartet music since his teens, first as a member of Gospel matriarch Margaret Allison & the Angelic Gospel Singers, and then with Gospel Quartet mainstay Charles Johnson & the Revivers—with whom he still occasionally tours. And even though that music was always coursing in his veins, there was a lot more pumping in Darryl’s heart that only now comes front and center.
With a suave and sophisticated, but always humble and gracious demeanor, Darryl—a Virginia-born-and-raised resident of Durham, North Carolina—creates a sound that is as fresh as this evening’s news, and familiar as an old rocking chair. Darryl’s diversity is broad yet natural enough to readily cross barriers of genre and markets to grab the ears and the hearts of lovers of traditional Gospel, Gospel Quartet, Southern Gospel, and great music of any description.
Darryl was born and raised in Danville, Virginia, one of six children, "in a strong, 24-7, church-going family," as he recalls it with a chuckle. Both of Darryl’s parents were hard-laboring factory workers in Danville, a mill town 130 miles southwest of Richmond. As the next-to-youngest of his siblings, he moved across the street from his family home at a young age when, as he puts it, "there got to be too little house for too many kids," to live with his aunt and uncle, who had no children of their own.
Never lacking for the necessities of life, Darryl didn’t experience many of its luxuries either as a child, with daily chores like splitting wood and hauling water from a spring to the house in buckets still vivid memories. Darryl had come into the world with God-given musical talents, though singing was not the first to manifest itself. With his parents unable to afford a musical instrument for him, Darryl’s aunt and uncle purchased him a pawn-shop bass guitar when he was nine, which he took to immediately. Completely self-taught, he was playing in his church that same year, and before long receiving invitations to sit in with groups at other churches in the area as well.
Darryl’s aunt was a bishop in their church, and an evangelist who often traveled wherever she was asked, or felt led, to hold a revival meeting. Darryl remembers well the prayer she prayed over him consistently in his boyhood. "Sometimes we’d be driving late at night, coming from church or a meeting, and I can still hear her to this day. She’d say: `Lord, Darryl wants to play music. He wants to play an instrument. Bless his hands. Bless him so he can be able to play, and travel this world, spreading Your word.’ That was her constant prayer."
It was a prayer that was answered sooner than anyone would have ever expected, and at an age where the idea did not meet with the approval of either his parents or aunt and uncle. By the time Darryl turned 14, he began accepting offers to travel and tour with various Gospel groups on weekends, until his elders intervened. "They told me they had bought me that bass to play it in their church, and it was either going to be that or nothing. And my mother laid a real good whuppin’ on me to go with it!" he laughs.
Darryl conceded, but not for long. By age 16, the "road bug" had seriously bitten him, and when an offer came from a fairly successful, full-time professional act called the Brooklyn All-Stars, he literally begged his parents to let him go. Struck by the passion and persistence of his pleas, they gave in to his wishes and he was gone within a matter of days on a trek that was, and remains today, his mission, ministry, artistry and career.
Nine months later, the 17-year-old Darryl, now singing as well as playing bass, joined Gospel matriarch, Margaret Allison & the Angelic Singers, a household name in traditional Gospel circles, with a strong European following as well, particularly in France, where they frequently toured. Before the age of 20, Darryl had made his first international foray, when Allison & the Angelic Singers toured Switzerland.
Darryl stayed with the Angelic Singers for the next 16 years. The Angelic Singers maintained a busy touring schedule, traveling across America and Europe on a steady, ongoing basis. But that pace began to slow as Margaret Allison grew older, and the group performed on a steadily diminishing basis. Wanting to play more dates than he was, Darryl left the Angelic Singers in the mid-‘90s, becoming a member of longtime Quartet luminaries, Charles Johnson & the Revivers, with whom he still performs dates, interspersed with his own burgeoning solo career commitments.
Darryl speaks like a man still very much on a mission.
"I’ve traveled so much, and seen so much," he says. "People don’t like to admit it, but there’s still a big color divide in this country in general, and in the church as well. I want to give people music that’s appealing and engaging to them—across the lines of color, denomination, age. There’s only o