There’s nothing like traditional gospel music. For some people, childhood memories flash back, and for others, it’s a place of comfort. Much like scriptures in the Bible, and much like praying hands, the spiritual connector has been a staple part of praise and worship.
Best-selling author and visionary leader Bishop Larry D. Trotter takes it there in his newest release, How Far Back Can You Go: Church Unplugged Vol. 2, where he evangelizes through classic hymns and highlights its importance. His latest? “Traveling Shoes.”
Below, Bishop Trotter explains the direction of the album that includes songs similar to the latter and having spent over 30 years ministering, offers wisdom on the “work hard, play hard” mantra.
ALIYA FAUST: Congrats on the new album. Tell us a little about the project…
BISHOP TROTTER: God is faithful. We just released a project entitled How Far Back Can You Go: Church Unplugged and it’s old songs, traditional hymns we grew up on. It’s Sunday morning kind of music. We’re thanking God to be able to continue in this lane of gospel music.
I really like that idea. When I heard “Traveling Shoes,” I was like, ‘Wow.’ It felt kind of reminiscent.
[Laughs] Got on my traveling shoes… Back in those days, we did a lot of call-and-response songs. The unique thing about this project is, we didn’t do a lot of mixing. We wanted to have that pure church sound. People really like “Traveling Shoes.” We could sing that for hours.
What inspired the idea to take it back as far as you and the Sweet Holy Spirit Choir did for this album?
I was very close to the late Bishop Gilbert Patterson and I was impressed when he did the CD, The Old Time Way. As I travel the country as a teacher, preacher… I don’t hear a lot of the old music. Of course you know, VaShawn Mitchell came out of our church. Ricky Dillard came out of our church. But what they sing caters more to a new crowd. Every now and then they’ll reach back and get something. So, I made a personal commitment to make the hymns alive in our church. We have a good time in our church. The praise team is going to do what they’re going to do, but when Bishop gets the mic, I’m going to teach them something old. So kind of like what Bishop Patterson did… I decided to just have church, invite some preachers in, give them the mic, and everybody sing an old song. It became “Church Unplugged.”
Speaking of traveling, you just actually just came back from Africa, right?
Yeah, I was in Johannesburg and Cape Town for VaShawn’s recording and we have some churches that we cover in Africa. It was a great trip. I’ve been there about eight or nine times, but this was one of the greatest experiences. I got to see VaShawn gather over 10,000 people for his recording and I had the time to reconnect with some pastors I used to work with years ago. And I had a chance to really study some of the history of the city.
Now, you’re a family man, a bishop, music artist and chef. How do you juggle all these things?
I look at it like this…. If you have a lot of hats that you wear, you have to realize which hats you’re wearing when. So if I’m on the stage, that’s my artist hat. If I’m home with my grand-babies, that’s my father hat. If I’m at church, that’s my pastor hat. If I’m with my fellowship of churches, that’s my bishop hat. If I’m on the road preaching, that’s my evangelistic hat. I think how it pans out for me is knowing which hat to wear. I’ve been anointed to have a lot of hats and it keeps me busy, but God gives you the grace for what you’re doing. Once the grace is gone, you won’t be able to do all that. But right now, to the glory of God, I’m still able to balance those hats. I wrote a book once called Work Hard Play Hard, and I’m trying to live it now. I take a day off a week. I try to take a week off a month. You have to refuel when you’re doing a lot of things.
Bishop Trotter was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois and grew up in one of the toughest housing projects in the area. His mother, the late Dorothy E. Trotter, raised him and his three siblings as a single mother. Because of the guidance and prayers of his mother, Bishop Trotter accepted Christ at the early age of 12 and was baptized. In 1974, he was drawn to a deeper relationship with Christ and accepted the Lord’s call to preach the Gospel and therefore adopted the motto, “Have Message, Will Preach.” As a masterful organizer and musical pioneer, during his teenage years, he was one of the most sought after musicians/Ministers of Music. He organized many gospel choirs and also served as youth pastor in three Chicago area churches: Greater New Mount Eagle, New Faith, and House of Inspiration. He was licensed and ordained by both Baptist and Pentecostal denominations and gained an audience who could appreciate his unique blend. In 1981, Bishop Larry D. Trotter began to pastor The Sweet Holy Spirit Church. While the church had only 22 members at the time his pastoral ministry began, this phenomenal mega-ministry currently houses a membership of over 8,000 members. Moreover, countless men and women in the United States and throughout the world follow Bishop Trotter’s preaching, teaching, and music ministry. Having been the first pastor in the city of Chicago to launch the “one church in two locations” ministry model, Bishop Trotter is revered as a trailblazer and “gatekeeper” in his city.
Visit sweetholyspiritonline.org to learn more about Bishop Larry D. Trotter and his ministry.