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A Tale Of Two Careers
Maywood native gives up a dream of playing baseball and makes his mark in gospel music
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​Ross’ (David Schwimmer) girlfriend on “Friends.” During seven episodes on the show, Tom was kind of a lightning rod for fans of the show, some who didn’t like the fact that she had taken Rachel’s (Jennifer Aniston) place in Ross’ heart. “Fans still get angry about that,” she says. “There was a live audience [during filming of the show], and they would boo me when I came on because they really wanted Ross to be with Rachel.”
   Not to be discouraged, Tom moved on and exhibited even more of her talents, using her voice in popular animated series such as "Futurama," "The Simpsons," "King of the Hill," "Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness," "Pound Puppies," "Teacher’s Pet," "Batman Beyond" and "Mulan 2." 
   Now, it’s all about Andi Mack, the much talked-about series, where Andi, played by 13-year-old Peyton Elizabeth Lee, was abandoned by her teenaged mother. Enter Lauren Tom as Celia Mack, Andi’s grandmother who made her believe that she and Andi’s grandfather were her parents––and her real mom was her sister.
   There will be more to this continuing story when Andi Mack returns to the Disney Channel on Mondays in June.
Photography courtesy of Disney Channel
–– Walter Leavy
Photograph by Liz Lauren

  THERE are thousands of little boys who dream of one day playing professional baseball like their heroes they’ve idolized over the years. While growing up in Maywood, IL, that was Todd Dulaney’s dream, a dream he achieved when the New York Mets drafted him in 2002.
   The 36-year-old who grew up singing had beaten the odds and lived his dream for five years before walking away to begin another career as a gospel singer. “The hard part was getting everybody to see and believe that leaving baseball was a good decision,” he says. “Convincing my family that singing what I love and doing what I love is more important than the money aspect of everything.”
   Dulaney, a Grammy- and Stellar Award-nominated singer, had to exhibit the same level of determination to succeed in music that he displayed to become a baseball player. And he got some valuable help along the way, beginning with Grammy Award-winner the Rev. Smokie Norful, pastor of Victory Cathedral Worship Center in Bolingbrook, IL. In the off-season, Dulaney attended the church and began singing at Sunday services as part of 
the praise team, and Norful later invited him to sing background on his tour.
   A determined Dulaney, who was studying communications at Northern Illinois University at the time, was able to fit the tour into his schedule. The exposure showcased his voice and convinced GoldStreet Gospel Entertainment to take a chance on him, leading to the release of his first single, “Pulling Me Through,” the title of his first album.
   Now known for songs such as “No Other Name,” “The Anthem,” “Trust in You” and his current “You’re Doing It All Again,” Dulaney, before deciding to go solo and in addition to Norful, worked as a background singer with an impressive list of other award-winning artists, including Vanessa Bell Armstrong, Nicole and David Binion, Michelle Williams, Dr. Bobby Jones, Fred Hammond, Tye Tribett, TRIN-I-TEE 5:7 and Donnie McClurkin.
   Going from baseball to gospel music was, as Dulaney says, “a calling and my purpose,” a purpose that involves leading people in worship and writing music. And with baseball now in his rear view, he’s moving forward with no regrets. “When I first came into this [gospel music] after chasing the dream of playing major league baseball, all I had was my trust in God,” says Dulaney, whose current album is To Africa With Love. “Nobody believed it was the right decision. The song, 'Trust in You,' says when everything is going crazy around me, when the world seems to be fading, all I have is my trust in God.”
   Apparently, that’s all he has needed.
––Walter Leavy
Photography courtesy