BCMMP mourns the loss of friend and colleague, Royzell L. Dillard. A lauded educator, esteemed performer and highly regarded mentor, “Mr. Dillard” leaves a tremendous legacy through the lives of many in whom he invested much time, energy and inspiration. A native of Tennessee, Dillard matriculated from Memphis’ Hamilton High School and journeyed to Virginia where he completed a BA in Psychology and MME (Music Education) from Hampton Institute (1983) and Hampton University (1988) respectively. At the time of his passing, Dillard was in the process of completing a DMA in Music Education from Shenandoah Conservatory.
Since 1986, Dillard served Hampton University and surrounding communities in a host of capacities including: Assistant Professor of Music, Director of University Choirs and Minister of Music at Hampton University’s Memorial Church. His jubilant spirit was matched by his stern pursuit for excellence. Following in the steps of the great exemplars that guided him, Dillard developed a unique approach to challenging his students to unimagined greatness through the sincere pursuit of self-respect, integrity and academic achievement. Dillard not only demanded students to execute, but he also mandated that they execute with intentionality, purpose and with conviction. A scholar of the African American experience through music, Dillard was well versed as an educator and an extremely versatile performer. Equally skilled at singing arias, spirituals, art songs, hymns, jazz standards and gospel songs (traditional and contemporary), his baritone/ bass voice was known for its strikingly brilliant use of just enough technique to reveal his depth of training and just enough power to reveal his width of life experience: an amazing combination that always brought the music to life.
In 2000, Dillard was chosen to serve as co-director of the Hampton University Ministers’ Conference and Choir Directors’ & Organists’ Guild along side Dr. James Abbington. Equally committed to the training of future leaders in music ministry, the two launched the Church Music Academy in 2001; an endeavor where both committed time, energy and resources to intellectually stimulate and spiritually guide collegiate students from all over the country in an empowering and practical setting. The Ministers’ conference and the Church Music Academy are only two of the many outlets through which Dillard shared, groomed, guided and empowered. His life was a living testament of service.
Many musicians, choral directors, musicians, pastors and ministers of music around the country (and the world) are grateful and indebted to Mr. Dillard. The entire Hampton University Family, the Hampton Ministers’ Conference and Choir Directors’ & Organists’ Guild will forever miss him. Still, for many more of us who simply knew him as “Roy,” we too, will miss our dear friend, fellow musician and fraternity brother. We thank God for the gift and blessing of Maestro Royzell L. Dillard.
Rev. Emmett G. Price III, Ph.D. is president and founder of the Black Church Music Ministry Project. BCMMP aims to “serve, nurture and develop spiritual leaders within music ministry.” For additional information please visit http://www.BCMMP.org or contact us via email at info@BCMMP.org.
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