DECATUR — Pastor F. Todd McClelland is ready to entertain people.
Plays, music, performances, soundtracks. “We do it all,” McClelland said. “I love to take somebody’s dream and make it happen.”
Decatur’s own Millennium Sound Records is doing what it can to introduce musical talent to the world.
“I’m helping other people get to another level,” McClelland said. “We help them get from Point A to Point B to Point C.”
McClelland and his team promote the artists, including booking a recording studio, scheduling performances and finding other places to highlight the music. They sign the groups, bands and singers. “And we have a lot of radio connections,” McClelland said.
Gospel jazz, gospel hip hop, love songs are listed under the category of inspirational, McClelland said. Some of the groups they promote include Christian Brothers from Cleveland, Ohio, Standard from Indianapolis, and Stars in Heaven from Chicago.
In the past, the music they promoted was classified as gospel. McClelland knew the brand needed to expand. “It’s going to be inspirational, positive, encouraging,” he said about the style. “The model is a sound that inspires.”
Rev. Esqulaira LeSure, 58, from Cleveland, Ohio, and his group The Christian Brothers are recording artists assigned to Millennium Sound Records. LeSure began working with the Decatur company in 2003, shortly after McClelland began promoting artists. Their first recording was titled “Dear Lord.”
“They are very strategic and very hardworking,” LeSure said about the record company. “Especially for them being a new record label.”
LeSure made his first record at the age of 15. He said his style is in the quartet genre, “with a little bit of flare contemporary,” he said.
With the help of Millennium Sound, the Christian Brothers have shared the stage with several popular Gospel artists, including Shirley Caesar, Highway Q.C’s, Mighty Clouds of Joy, Lee Williams, and the Jackson Southernaires. The Christian Brothers have performed in Decatur as well. “It was a packed out service,” LeSure said.
McClelland was just a musician nearly 20 years ago when he was enlightened to promote artists. The company began under the name Forward This Millennium Records. Their responsibilities were limited to recordings and concerts until the company changed the name and broadened its scope. “I found out my passion was on the business side,” McClelland said.
Publishing, promoting and producing are a few of the Millennium Sound Records responsibilities. However, a studio closer to Decatur is the only piece missing from the artist’s experience. Finding important studio components is crucial to McClelland. “Does it sound right to be played on the radio,” he said. “Anybody with a Mac computer, anybody who records, that’s fine. But does it sound right, has it been mixed right, has it been mastered?”
Millennium Sound Records has worked to promote the artists while focusing on ministry. “We work with our artists,” McClelland said. “They put something in, we put something in. We work together. But it is a business.”
Anthony Gray, 32, has performed with the gospel group Standard for about eight years. “It’s a traditional gospel sound, but we are a younger artist,” Gray said. “So we flip it and call it Urban Quartet, where we give it a new-age feel. It’s based on feelings.”
The group signed with Millennium Sound more than a year ago, shortly before the pandemic stopped live performances. “That kind of slowed everything down,” Gray said. “We haven’t been able to hit the ground running.”
Standard was able to record an EP, allowing Millennium Sound to promote their music through radio stations. “He has really been getting our music played over the airwaves,” Gray said about McClelland.
The promotional work has paid off for Standard. The group was recently nominated as Quartet Artist of the Year by the Gospel Choice Music Awards.
McClelland has worked with various professionals throughout the music business. However, he took a five-year break after his grandmother, father and daughter passed away within a year of each other. He recently returned, ready work again. “It’s patience,” he said about running a successful business.
His goal is to put at least 25 people to work through the Millennium Sound Records and the ministry of its sister church City of Praise. Jobs would include production personnel, assistants, digital marketing, engineers and actors.
“I took an opportunity and I jumped on it,” McClelland said about the future.
Along with a reputation for being a strong promoter of inspirational music, McClelland and Millennium Sound Records have integrity, according to LeSure. “He’s a man of his word,” LeSure said. “He does it in the spirit of excellence. He works extremely hard for his artists.”
Although Millennium Sound Records is still considered young compared to other record labels, they are making a mark on the industry. “Many people know about Decatur because of Millennium Sound,” LeSure said. “They are definitely making a mark.”
29 celebrities with Decatur ties
29 celebrities with Decatur ties
29 celebrities from Decatur
Gary Forrester, a New Zealand-Australia based musician, composer and poet who was profiled as one of the major figures in the Australian music scene during the 1980s and 1990s, was born in Decatur and grew up in the Effingham, Quincy and Tuscola areas.
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Jenny Lou Carson
Jenny Lou Carson, originally known as Lucille Overstake of the Three Little Maids, was born and raised in Decatur. She went on to write "You Two-Time Me One Time Too Often," which was the first top country hit written by a woman. She was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Association Hall of Fame in 1971.
June Christy, an American singer hailed as "one of the finest and most neglected singers of her time," was known for her work in the cool jazz genre. She was born in Springfield in 1925 and moved with her family to Decatur when she was 3.
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Brian Culbertson, an American contemporary jazz/R&B/funk musician, has written and produced over 25 No. 1 contemporary smooth singles on the R&R, Gavin and Billboard Radio charts. He was born and raised in Decatur.
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Howard Warren Buffett
A graduate from Mount Zion High School, Howard Warren Buffett currently is a faculty member at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs and was previously a policy adviser in the Executive Office of the President of the United States under President Barack Obama.
Steve Hunter, born and raised in Decatur, is an American guitarist best known for his collaborations with Lou Reed, Peter Gabriel, Bette Midler and Meat Loaf.
Richard Peck is an American novelist who was awarded the Newbery Medal in 2001 for his novel "A Year Down Yonder".
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Icon for Hire
Icon for Hire, formed in 2007 in Decatur, is an American rock band that has had two Billboard-charting albums.
CeCe Frey is a pop singer from Mount Zion who finished sixth place on seasontwo of "The X-Factor."
Charles Earl Boles
Known as Black Bart, this English-born outlaw lived in Decatur during the 1860s before becoming one of the most notorious stagecoach robbers to operate in and around Northern California and Southern Oregon in the 1870s and 1880s.
Homer 'Boots' Randolph
Best known for his 1963 saxophone hit "Yakety Sax", "Boots" Randolph played with the Dink Welch's Kopy Kats in Decatur from 1948-1954.
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Herbert Dickens Ryman
Herbert Dickens Ryman, who grew up in Decatur, was an artist and Disney Imagineer who drew the first illustrations of Walt Disney's vision of a theme park that eventually became Disneyland. His filmography includes Art Director of Fantasia and Dumbo.
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RonReaco Lee is a television and film actor best known for his roles as Tyreke Scott on "Sister, Sister" and Jamal Woodson the BET romantic comedy "Let's Stay Together." He was born in Decatur.
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David Joyner, best known for his role as Barney, was born in Decatur and graduated from MacArthur High School in 1981.
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Historian Stephen Ambrose, born in Decatur and raised in Lovington, was the best-selling author of books about Lewis and Clark and World War II.
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Howard Graham Buffett
Businessman and philanthropist Howard G. Buffett was the Corporate Vice President and Assistant to the Chairman of Archer Daniels Midland from 1992 - 1995 and is the founder of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation. He currently resides in Decatur.
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Most recently known for her worked on Clint Eastwood's "Changeling," Decatur-born Kerri Randles also opened the first ever Hollywood Fringe Festival with her one-woman show "Can't you Hear Me Knockin?"
Musican-actor John Doe, born in Decatur, paved the way for alternative rock with his band X before turning to acting in movies such as "Great Balls of Fire!" and "Boogie Nights".
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Eisenhower alumni Bill "Mad Dog" Madlock, Jr. was a right-handed hitter who won four National League batting titles and is one of only three right-handed hitters to have won multiple National League batting titles since 1960.
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Freddy Krueger, the world's No. 1 professional water ski jump champion, was born and grew up in Decatur.
James W. Loewen
James Loewen, a sociologist, historian and author best known for his book, "Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong," was born in Decatur and was a 1960 graduate of MacArthur High School as well as a national merit scholar.
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Contact Donnette Beckett at (217) 421-6983. Follow her on Twitter: @donnettebHR