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Hinesville man uses music to spread God's word
Derrick Mitchell is backed up by other singers. - photo by Photo by Daisy Pleasant Jones
With or without a microphone in hand, Hinesville resident Derrick Mitchell’s lyrics are from the heart and his vocals touch the emotions.
Mitchell, who has spent many years singing R&B, would have once liked opening for well-known artists like Usher, Keith Sweat and 112. But today, he’s closed the door on R&B and instead dedicates himself to singing music ministering to the soul and spirit.
“I love God and I love to sing,” he said.
Mitchell, 28, can easily rival the voices of some of the country’s most popular gospel and pop artists. His melodic and smooth tones soothe the heart. On the other hand, his intense vocal acrobatics can bring an audience to its feet.
Mitchell is originally from Texarkana, Ark. His dad, Carl Mitchell, a retired Army veteran, and his mom, Brenda, moved the family around the country and the world during 21 years of military service.
Derrick Mitchell graduated from Bradwell Institute in 1997, and remembers then BI principal Joan Hollingsworth’s encouragement.
“She used to call me her little singing boy,” he said.
By day, Mitchell is a communications technician for the local cable company. When anyone sees a Comcast truck passing by it may be Mitchell heading to a job and singing along the way.
“I can sing and make music anytime and anyplace. I sing eight days a week,” he said, laughing. Literally, there are no limits to where or when Mitchell will break into song. “I’m even singing while I’m up on the pole,” he said.
Mitchell recently released a CD that has met with rave reviews including interest from an independent film producer.
“I’ve always written songs,” he said. “I never wanted to do a CD until one day I looked around me and asked myself, ‘why not do a CD,’” Mitchell said, noting he didn’t’ have to look too far for musicians or a producer.
“I’d met Bubba Dowling a few years ago, and then we met again. Just meeting Bubba was real, real serious to me,” Mitchell said.
He and Rodrick “Bubba” Dowling work together in the music ministry at Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Hinesville. Dowling also produced Mitchell’s project.
“We just started working together and his ideas and mine just brought the whole thing together,” the singer said.
He’s extremely busy these days guiding the music ministry at the church and keeping pace with a hectic schedule of gigs since the CD was released last month.
Every day is set aside for something, he said. “Monday is my rest day … Friday is for my wife, Tameika.” In a few months Mitchell will add another fan to his roster — a baby daughter.
The CD titled “When I Think of His Goodness” is a testimony of his life, Mitchell said. “I’m not a stranger to the studio,” he said.
He spent several years opening for many well-known secular artists while attending college in Atlanta. His lifestyle was a long way from how his parents raised him, Mitchell said.
“The gospel left then. I was singing in nightclubs. It was the cool thing to do then. In Atlanta, we saw famous people left and right. We saw their fame and fortune and that was what we went after,” he said.
His views changed when an incident on the campus of Southern Polytechnic Institute caused his life to flash in front of him. Mitchell returned to Hinesville in 2001 after graduating from college.
“It changed the course of my life and my music. After that the only thing I wanted to do was sing in a church choir. I didn’t want to lead anything. I just wanted to be in a church choir. That’s how I grew up,” he said.
Reflecting on his musical endeavors, Mitchell said he grew up playing the drums at church but longed to sing.
“I sang my first solo when I was 5 or 6 in Germany. I used to always look at people singing and I wanted to sing. My mom was the youth choir director and one day she gave me the mic. My first song was ‘Send me, I’ll go,’ Mitchell said.
“It’s a different feeling when you’re singing gospel music … I feel it a whole lot more. I don’t aspire to be a big gospel artist. Whatever God wants me to do, I’m there,” Mitchell said.
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