It’s not every day you stumble upon a song that pricks the heart, breaking open an emotional dam that releases the powerfully healing flow of a father’s love. Haitian musical artist, Gregory Brunot, is a child prodigy turned singer, songwriter, producer, and worship leader of a thriving congregation in Orlando, Florida. In preparation to become a father for the first time, he created Daddy, the lullaby promise to his yet-to-be-born daughter. This project is a gem.
The song begins with vocoded harmonies stripped away from any instrumental accompaniment. All focus is on the words, full of tender strength and building anticipation: “You’re getting ready to start something new,” he sings, “We’ve all been waiting, praying for you.” I sat down with the new father six weeks after his baby arrived to hear the full story behind the song.
He highlighted something that many of us don’t think about. “Babies in the womb are living their best life and their first experience is a traumatic one. Needles. Lights. Noises. Breathing air for the first time…” Before she even entered the world, he was already aware of her struggles, comforting her through her trauma and doing his best to let her know – he’s there. The first verse repeats those initial lines, adding dreamy chimes and ethereal chords the second time around, then crescendos into a tremblingly boisterous chorus that vulnerably cries out, “Would you give me a chance to be your Daddy?” It’s overwhelming. The unconditional love emanating from this composition feels bigger than any single sentiment or moment. Because it is. This song stirs a place inside each of us that identifies with the very real, basic human need for a father’s love.
Brunot opened up about the connection he has with his own dad and the stream of paternal support that empowered him to overcome many obstacles and pioneer the successful path he’s on now. “I come from a legacy of strong dads,” He explained. His family has seen their share of suffering. Both parents grew up without their mothers, who were victims of murder when they were still children. Brunot notices how motherlessness uniquely affected the two of them. “My mother had to learn to nurture and raise a family on her own without an example to go off of,” he praised, “And my dad? He is a great dad, but … he has never looked at me and said ‘I love you.’ It’s just how he grew up.” He spoke with deep respect and understanding for both parents, grateful to have them. They are Pentecostal pastors.
Growing up a pastor’s kid and extraordinarily gifted youth, Brunot bid farewell to a normal childhood the moment he was prematurely thrust into a leadership role at the insanely young age of seven years old. As music director, he was responsible for the band’s hits during live services. “It’s enough for anyone to freak out if something went wrong,” he confessed. He was a guide for others before he had the opportunity to build the character and gain the wisdom necessary to healthily navigate that measure of attention and authority. He also was expected to be a shining example of righteousness to the watching congregation. It wasn’t until he got older that he felt the crippling effect of the very religious environment he was raised in. But as a child, he strived to be what everyone wanted him to be.
Growing up, he struggled a lot with the contrasting life of being celebrated in the spotlight at church yet being bullied in school. In the 2nd and 3rd grades, he was a target of racism and xenophobia. The white children rejected his dark skin. Black children insulted his Haitian origin, calling him dirty and poor. Things shifted however by the time he got to high school. His multi-giftedness won over his peers. He hit his stride in sports and gained popularity along with an ego, enjoying his preeminent rank in the high school hierarchy. In church he became a worship leader, ushering families into God’s presence. He had it all.
Yet something was missing. He began to use his influence at school to bully another kid as if publically preying on those at the bottom of the food chain would somehow secure his place at the top. Brunot remembered how lost he felt. “It was easy to appear connected to God on the outside by simply following rules at church,” and rules, there were many. Yet none of these rules seemed to actually make a difference in his heart enough to keep him from bullying another kid or to connect him to the God to whom he sang anthems of love. He began to witness incidents where people in the congregation were ruthlessly judged when there should have been compassion and support. He started questioning the purpose of it all.
Most children would be terrified to come to their pastor dad questioning their religion, but Brunot’s dad was surprisingly supportive. This speaks volumes of their relationship and was such a turning point in his journey of faith and identity. His dad encouraged him to seek truth for himself and he began his quest to have a genuine relationship with God. He fearlessly asked questions that were considered controversial within the denomination he grew up in. All the while his dad was there, empowering him and respecting his process.
What he found was that God wanted his heart, regardless of if he wore a ball cap, or had piercings and tattoos. He discovered that God’s presence was not in a building, but within his own surrendered heart, and discovered God as a loving Father above all things. Soaking in God’s presence healed his heart wounds, shed the strict meaningless standards, put an end to people-pleasing, and liberated his soul to become the person he is today – tattoos, piercings, and all. He says, “When I’m in God’s presence I’m my best me.”
A defining moment for him is one service where the boy he had bullied in high school showed up to his church years later and sat right in the front row. He stopped everything on stage and confessed his past sin to the entire church. “The whole atmosphere shifted,” he relived this moment with excitement and shared how the entire room erupted in beautifully repentant worship, everybody experiencing their own personal breakthrough. Brunot is a transformed man with a passion for those who have experienced church hurt. His revelation of God as Father is what moves him to create and share the Heavenly Father’s love. As an artist, you can find him wherever music is streaming. Although he has no full album just yet, he has an impressive and diverse catalog of songs that crossover into different genres and cultures. Each song carries an invitation into something greater than himself. His dreams are coming true little by little. Like any artist, he hopes to take off in his career, win grammies, tour the world, and share his work. But when asked his highest goal, without hesitation he answered, “Above all things that I want to accomplish in the world, I’ve always dreamed of being a good husband and father.” Follow him on Instagram and Spotify and check out his song, Daddy.
Author: Gabrielle Solange