World-famous drummer says he's on a mission for God

Posted June 26

Internationally known as "The Minister of Groove," drummer Daniel Donnelly has made a name for himself over the past three decades, but now he says he's on a mission for God. (Deseret Photo)

Internationally known as "The Minister of Groove," drummer Daniel Donnelly has made a name for himself over the past three decades, performing alongside famed musicians like Lenny Kravitz, Bobby Brown, New Edition and Philip Bailey of Earth, Wind & Fire, among plenty of others.

In fact, Donnelly — whose stage name is Zoro the Drummer — is widely regarded as one of the world's most talented drummers, but he's also a Christian author, speaker and ordained minister who works to truly inspire audiences.

Among his many efforts, Donnelly is the founder of Zoro International Ministries, a nonprofit organization that "equips young adults with the essential tools needed to discover, develop and deploy their God-given gifts in order to live a life of intention, impact and adventure."

The musician shared his faith journey as well as his perspective about what it's like to spend decades working as a Christian in the entertainment industry, telling The Church Boys podcast that he believes the key to his success has been "guarding and protecting" his heart.

"The key in life for me is to … guard and protect [my] heart, because the world wants to make it cold, the world wants to make it jaded," Donnelly said. "I've tried to … maintain that essence of purity in an unpure world."

At the core of the drummer's message is his passion for the value of every individual, as Donnelly believes that success and money aren't what truly matter in life.

"It will not be the accolades or the gold albums [or] how much money you made, how many times you were on TV or how many books you sold," Donnelly said. "Even preachers who preached a bunch of great messages, but weren't sincere about loving people — it will be worth nothing."

Throughout his career, he explained that, though he might look like the typical "Hollywood guy" based on his outer appearance, those around him have come to know that he's anything but a stereotype.

"If people look at me outwardly they might think I'm a totally Hollywood guy," Donnelly said. "I look like them, but I walk and I march to the beat of a different drum."

He continued, "I just love on them with the love of God."

Donnelly believes that the love that he has shown for others inside the entertainment industry has sometimes had a profound impact, with some people coming to him years after they first met him to ask for his guidance in navigating tough life circumstances.

"They know you're the only one who has the wisdom they haven't been able to find elsewhere," he said.

While Donnelly has certainly been a light inside of the music industry, he has also made a broader impact through uplifting video and social media messages and inspirational efforts such as his soon-to-release book, "Soar: 9 Proven Keys for Unlocking Your Limitless Potential."

"The most rewarding thing is that God has granted me access to many, many people … as his ambassador, as his representative," the drummer said. "What is a Christian? We are to represent Christ. The most rewarding part is to impact a lot of lives."

Throughout "Soar," Donnelly offers up the principles that he believes can help people connect with God and ultimately find their place in the world. Rather than steps, the musician said that these principles are "never ending" and ongoing efforts, encouraging people to continue working on themselves.

"The whole point of our whole life to achieve or accomplish anything is that we impact other people in some positive way," he said. "We each have to find what lane are we supposed to be in."

Explaining that the book is "written for absolutely everybody," Donnelly explained his belief that God's intention is for "us all to soar, because we are all of his children."

He continued, "He wants to see all of his children succeed and prosper, and I truly believe that."

Donnelly shared and heralded two of his nine principles that are outlined in the book: "Live by faith" and "Embrace your individuality," arguing that the first step to accomplishing anything is simply believing.

"Everything comes down to developing the right thoughts and cultivating your faith," he explained.

As for embracing one's individuality, Donnelly said that each individual must embrace the person who God made him or her to be in order to "fulfill God's plan and purpose" in life.

Donnelly is hoping that "Soar," which releases on Sept. 1, is yet another channel through which he can inspire people to look within and beyond themselves to find, secure and live out their destinies.

And while he continues to exercise his drumming talents, he made it clear that his ministry is his one true calling.

"I'd much rather spend my life pleasing God," he said. "Ultimately, I care more about souls than I do position."

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