No Limit for This Musician

Derrick Hearne, bass player extraordinare from Gary, Indiana has laid it down for gospel greats like Ricky Dillard. I contacted him about sharing with, and he willingley accepted, to share from his wealth of knowledge with our readers. I think you will be thoroughly blessed by this interview.

Gospelbasslines: Tell us about your Discography, and gigs you have played on.

 Derrick Hearne: I have played for a lot of artists. Some you may have heard of and others you may not. My recordings are a lot in number but the most notables would have to be Ricky Dillard’s (no Limit, Unplugged, The 7th Episode). As far as gigs…wow. I have played (or had the opportunity to play) with a lot of the “well known” artists from Jay Moss to Kurt Carr, etc. My list of gigs may not be as long as others but understand, that is clearly by choice and I am very content with it. I remember the days when the “Tommies” were really hot. They would have the same band that totally defined their sound. You never hardly saw those musicians, in that era, playing all the time with everybody. I wanted to do that with the ministry I am with.

 Gospelbasslines: How long have you been playing bass guitar?

 Derrick Hearne: I have been playing bass for 19 years now (14 years professionally)

 Gospelbasslines: Did you musical journey start with the bass guitar, or did you start out on another instrument?

 Derrick Hearne: I actually, like most musicians, started on the drums. Unfortunately for me, our church at the time had a slew of drummers already and my PT [playing time] was very limited. My cousin Jayson, who is my right arm to this day, was the first in our age range to take the step to another instrument which was the organ. This lead me to think, “If I played bass, we’d have a full band over here”. In high school I did play a little of trumpet but for some reason I liked the bass so much more. I will never forget when our marching band entered the city jamboree and the people saw we had a bass player on the field with real drums and keyboard doing radio songs! It was amazing!

 Gospelbasslines: Who has influenced your playing style the most? Why?

 Derrick Hearne: I actually have 3 people who influenced me the most Victor Wooten, Marcus Miller, Jaco Pastorius. I am a prodigy of all three! Each of their styles can be incorporated in gospel in so many ways. I am sure that people who have really heard me would agree. Marcus’ style is for the more funkier stuff and so is Jaco’s in a different way but Victor, I usually bring that out for soloing. I really didn’t get into these guys until late 2002. I had a style but I felt like my threshold had reached. All I listened to was gospel and no offense to no one but I was doing at 15 years old what some of the “top” bass players in the gospel industry are doing now. I wasn’t growing. I wanted to start a whole new thing. My friend Kevin Randolph (No Limit), who along with a couple of others has to be the most gifted keyboard players I have ever met, turned me on to jazz and since then, it was new and fresh. No one I knew at the time was doing it this way, some couldn’t.

 Gospelbasslines: What aspect of listening to Jazz, caused your playing to move to the next level?

 Derrick Hearne: Well understand that I grew up on gospel. That’s all I was ever allowed to listen to as a child. I didn’t even know who Earth Wind and Fire was until I was 18. Ain’t that a mess? I guess you can say I was “closed in a box”. A friend of mine, Kevin Randolph (New G, Mary Mary, Ramsey Lewis) actually turned me on to Marcus Miller, Victor Wooten, etc. It opened my mind up to a whole new world of bass playing. I mean the scales, the approaches, and the overall execution was something I wanted to be able to do. I mean I listened to my fair share of “smooth” jazz but FUSION, it’s a totally different beast.

 Gospelbasslines: Can you remember any particular concept or element of playing that gave you problems in your maturation process?

 Derrick Hearne: Fingering believe it or not. Though I was learning Jaco’s technique, I was never as fluid as I wanted to be. I had slapping down to the point where I was getting comfortable but fingering, it was hard for me because I never really got into it. I grew up listening to Andrew Gouche’, Steve Huff, Joel Smith and on the albums I had they were slapping even on ballads! (LA Mass “Love Lifted Me”) Needless to say, the whole element of walking, let alone the tone Jaco has, was a beast to conquer.

 Gospelbasslines: How did you overcome the issue with fingering?

 Derrick Hearne: Actually I practiced a lot of scales over and over. First slowly and then I noticed my dexterity and speed increased over some time. I still practice on getting faster because doing 16th notes in “shout” music is a killer!

 Gospelbasslines: Share with our readers, how you approach playing in a gospel/worship environment, from a spiritual standpoint.

 Derrick Hearne: I pray before EVERY service, concert, session, gig, rehearsal, etc. Even if it’s a simple, “Thank you Lord for another opportunity to minister.” I can’t understand how some musicians walk out on prayer, praise and worship, spoken word. I have actually been in musicals where there were a host of musicians and no one wanted to play in praise and worship. It was just me on the bass. No drummer. No organist. No pianist. The praise leader started singing anyway and FINALLY they made there way up there to play. I sometimes hate to play at musicals because when somebody does a “riff” you hear hollering, screaming, and yelling. Yet these same people are quiet as church mice when someone says,”Let’s worship the Lord with the fruit of our lips.” {perplexed} I take my walk seriously and I give my all every time I play whether it’s at a packed house or not, a big church or a store front, paid or unpaid. God was generous enough to bless us with this gift! We should NOT take it for granted. I honestly couldn’t care less if I’m everyone’s favorite bass player, as long as God is pleased! (End of message) The doors of the church are now!

 Gospelbasslines: What would you tell a musician wanting to get into the industry?

 Derrick Hearne: If you want to do it because you love gospel and ministering then great! If you are in it to make money… I am not saying you couldn’t make a decent living doing it but it is a “hustle”. I didn’t want to have to be gone all the time so I have other things I do and I am in school to get a degree in software engineering. If this is what you want to do then….but for me it was not feasible. As far as getting into the industry, I have found in my life that God indeed honors faithfulness. I tell everyone to be faithful to your church first and and whatever ministry you are a part of secondly. I didn’t get my opportunity by playing with everybody under the sun. It was by playing with a group that was faithful to from the beginning. Understand that everything works in God’s time and if He feels that you are not ready, then you are NOT. Sometimes it could be that the group you are with was predestined by God was meant to be the next “Tye Tribbett and GA”. Having said that let me add that on top of these you should make a press package for yourself (Videos, Audio, resume, etc.) This way when you blessed to be in company of some artists you can then at least have a shot. Also it is always good to network with other musicians because sometimes they can help you get where you are trying to go.

 Gospelbasslines: If you were stranded on a dessert island, and could have 1 song, what would that song be and why?

 Derrick Hearne: I would have to say “Latter Rain” by Myron Butler. It just ministers to me in so many ways both lyrically and musically. It’s almost like they were talking directly to me!

 Gospelbasslines: Who is in heavy rotation in you CD player right now?

 Derrick Hearne: Because I produce and engineer my ears are usually fried a But when do I listen to music the gospel albums I reach for first are… Myron Butler and Levi Tye Tribbet “Life” Kevin Vasser “So Glad”

 Gospelbasslines: What Basses do you play, Strings you use, Amps, Cabs, and if you use any effects or pre-amps, etc.

 Derrick Hearne: I have 8 basses. I could never get around to getting an endorsement. Maybe I should one day….

 Fender Deluxe Jazz Basses (4&5 string)
4 string Music Man
6 string Ibanez (EMG electronics)
5 string Warrick Corvette
5 string fret less (Peavey)
5 string Peavey Millenium. (I like the sound of Peavey basses, the active ones anyway.)
8 string (No name Company) I’m decking it out with Bartolini electronics and pickups, a new bridge, etc.
I use DR strings with D’Addario as a backup

 Gospelbasslines: Are there any technical aspect, or exercises you can give to those starting out, that are tangible enough to help them grow as a musician?

 Derrick Hearne: I can honestly say what has helped me the most is developing my ear. I never ever had a real lesson. My teachers were ALL what I like to call INDIRECT PROFESSORS. They were teaching me and didn’t even know it. I would say as advice is to find a bass player that you admire and BUY the cd’s that they play on. This way you shouldn’t get bored listening to it repeatedly. Eventually you should be able to at least hum the bass line..believe it or not you are have way there because from here with time you will be able to translate what you hum to your instrument. Once I was able to hear something and then play it exactly like I heard it, everything came quickly from there. Learning notes are valuable but if you have a good ear as well, you will constantly get called for gigs.

 Gospelbasslines: Are there any upcoming projects, or links you want to promote?

 Derrick Hearne: I actually produce as well and right now I have been in the studio working on some upcoming projects. I am trying to get them done before the TOUR RUSH. I will start posting them on my Myspace page real soon.

 Special Thanks to Derrick Hearne for taking time to speak with It was indeed a pleasure to speak to such a gifted musician who is willing to share his lifes experience. To find out more about Derrick Hearne, be sure to visit him at His Myspace Page.

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