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Isaac Ferguson Dillard

“I feel like Franklin called me. I feel like I was sent for; I was not looking to move to Franklin. I was in Atlanta, Ga, had some things there happen that let me know I needed to move, and to be completely transparent, I was meditating and praying one day and heard a voice say, ‘Nashville.’ I looked up to the sky and said, ‘We’ve tried this before.’ And, so the voice said, ‘Just do it.’ So, I came to Nashville and stayed about five days looking for the feel. Everywhere I went though, people kept telling me to check out other areas – Green Hills, Brentwood, Bellevue. But when I went to those places, people kept telling me, ‘Go to Franklin, go to Franklin, go to Franklin.’ So – and this is the honest truth – as soon as I got out of my car on the square, people were like, ‘Hey, how are you doing?’ and just embraced me, literally. And I was like, okay…this feels right. And a few other things happened. I was sitting in the coffeeshop at Onyx and Alabaster still waiting for confirmation on where I was going to move, and I was meditating just saying, ‘Home, home’ waiting to figure out from God where I was supposed to be. So, I went outside, and a song was playing on their speakers outside. It was one of my favorite songs, and I said to myself, ‘This is not coincidental. This is where I can plant myself.’ And that’s what I did. I trusted the voice, and I tell people I was simply trying to follow the voice of my heart and the voice of God. I make it a daily practice before I do anything to meditate and pray, just 15 minutes to half an hour. That’s what has guided me in the right direction where I need to go. It also lets me know ‘this person is good for you, this person isn’t’ or ‘this place is not for you.’ When I went to Nashville, it was too chaotic for me. It was too much. I needed a place to settle - to be still and know. To be calm. I moved here without knowing anyone, without knowing anything at all about this city – nothing at all. I started walking down the street, people started saying, ‘Hi, I like your fashion. Can I buy one? Where can I get it?’ And, basically, the rest is history.  

 

This city has really embraced me, and I am someone that when someone or something embraces me, I am very loyal. This has been quite a miraculous thing for me. I moved here seven months ago, and the things that have happened to me - and for me - is miraculous. It really is. I’m performing now here at The Harpeth, and they call me ‘The Best Dressed Man in Franklin.’ The thing about my fashion is that I wear the same things I wore everywhere else, but for some reason, the people here in Franklin are like, ‘Hey, stop – I want to take a picture with you’ or ‘Where did you get that?’ It’s cool, but it’s bizarre at the same time. I walked into Culaccino’s and Kathie Lee, says, ‘Come here, you look like someone I need to know.’ Kathie Lee Gifford. You know, things like that have just happened. I had the opportunity to sing for Patrick Cassidy for he and his wife’s anniversary. I’ve become close with Tracey Bregman; since moving here, she has become a friend and cheers me to keep going up. The only thing I can say it that it’s just been miraculous what’s happened. The confirmations and the affirmations are already coming in since I’ve been here. Nowhere else has anyone ever purchased things from me off my back. Nowhere else except for Franklin, Tennessee. No website, just working on it. You can just see me walking down the street, and if you want it and I’m in the mood, I’ll sell it to you. You just can’t have my shoes, my socks, or my pants. Maybe a shirt or a hat. That’s it.  

 

Prior to Covid, I was performing in public schools across the United States and Canada doing music and speaking to students about diversity, making wise choices, being kind to one another, and bullying. Covid shut that down, and that’s part of the reason I moved here since it was shut down. I have every intention of getting back into public schools eventually. That’s my passion, totally. I own my own company and have been doing it for twenty-something years now and maybe next year I’ll get back into that. Now I’m talking with some people about the fashion thing because it’s gone crazy here. Friday, I was at O’ Be Joyful, and someone just said, ‘I’ll give 100 bucks for that coat.’ I was sitting beside her just chatting and getting ready to leave, and she said, ‘Where can I get that coat?’ I said, ‘Well, from me.’ She asked, ‘How much is it?’ and I told her 100 bucks. She pulls out the money, and I take it off and give it to her right there. Today, I was in downtown Nashville and had a hat on. This woman came up to me and said, ‘I like your hat. Where can I get one?’ I told her from me and gave her a price. She said okay, and I just took it off and gave it to her. People literally buy my clothes off my back. Not off the rack, but off my back. I started sewing and designing things in middle school and high school. The paint thing happened by accident; I wanted to design something to perform in at a school one day, and so I put some paint on some jeans. I got a call from the principal who said, ‘Isaac, my students want your jeans. I’m going to print a flyer up, you’re going to charge $20 for them, and they’ll bring their jeans to school. You can pick them up, you can drop them back off in a week.’ At times, I had forty or fifty pairs of jeans from them – I’m in a hotel parking lot, putting paint on a bunch of jeans. I was just trying to create something to wear on stage, and kids started wanting them. 

 

My mom says I came out of her womb singing and dancing. Like most African Americans, I started singing in the church. I just kept going from there, and I haven’t stopped. I was bullied in school. I won’t go into the whole thing, but I was bullied quite a bit. But I knew I had a singing gift. And I knew when I was singing, I earned the respect of those bullies. You know, it was like, ‘We can’t touch him on this. We can on something else, but we definitely can’t on this.’ So, it was my security in school for sure. And then I kind of honed it and realized people connected with it also, and I know why I am doing these things. I know people are very important to me. Everything I do, I go at it from a point of, ‘I’m one with this person. I’m one with this group of people.’ It’s really not about me, though. It isn’t. On my Facebook page, I have, ‘My life is not my own.’ I don’t know where that came from, but I know it resonates with me. That’s why I have no problem when someone asks, ‘Hey, can I buy that coat or that hat?’ Even with the school stuff, I got asked once for my shoes. I took them off on stage and gave them to them right there. You want them? Here you go, right here. But again, I know I’m connected to everybody. I don’t care who you are, what you are, or how you are – and that’s very clear to me. And that’s how I try to lead and guide my life. I don’t care what you say to me. I’m going to always try to come back with a kind word or a kind thought. It takes a lot to get me riled up and try to combat you in an ugly way. My thing is, we can all live together. You can have your views, I can have mine, but we can still live together and care about one another. That’s how I do life. If you think about like this: I believe that we all came from the same thing, whether you call it God, the boom, or the sky – we all came from the same thing. We are all one. Why would I want to treat you ugly? If I treat you ugly, I treat myself ugly. If I say something bad about you, then I’m saying something bad about me. Because we are one.”  

 

- Isaac Ferguson Dillard, Franklin resident

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