Pastor Roo & LadyRoo: Press

Alton author overcomes
by Melissa Meske April 1, 2017

the comeback 1.jpg
As Alton author Darrin Williams says, “If you have been through nothing, then you can’t tell anyone anything.” And in his case, he has been through enough to have a story or two to tell.

“The Comeback,” written as Williams’ first book and as his “tell-all,” was released in October. It chronicles Williams’ life from boyhood to present as the man once known Slugger Roo undergoes a complete reformation from the life of a gangbanger and drug dealer to one who fully established his belief and trust in God.

Williams will host his first book-signing from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 15, at New Beginnings with Roo Barbershop, 1842 E. Broadway in Alton.

But even the scheduling of the book-signing, after “The Comeback” was released last fall, was something Williams would have to lean hard on his faith to finally bring to life.

On the week the book was released, Williams said his bike broke down and his wallet was stolen. Just a few weeks later, he had a cycling accident that broke his collarbone, leaving him down for about two months. In February, he was T-boned in an automobile accident but managed to escape — “thank God with no injuries,” he said.

To add to the obstacles along the way, the original choice for the book-signing venue, Family Christian Bookstore, recently began liquidation as a part of its nationwide closing, forcing Williams to find a new place for the book-signing.

“I believe that as you do good, things will always try to keep a good man down, but you have to continue to fight back with faith,” Williams said of the challenges of getting to this point with his book and in life overall.

For information, visit Williams’ website. Books will be available for purchase at the signing.

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Melissa Meske - The Advantage News (Apr 1, 2017)
Darrin “Slugger Roo” Williams has completely turned his life around. Williams' nickname came from his time as a member of the Vice Lord gang in Alton, Illinois. Williams left his life as a gang banger in the past, and is now a rapper, barber, minister and author.

Williams is having an official book signing for his new book, “The Comeback: Fighting back with Faith,” from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 15 at the New Beginnings with Roo barbershop in Alton. Williams' barbershop is located at 1842 E Broadway, Alton, Illinois 62002.

“It's a snapshot of my life,” Williams said. The narrative starts with his birth in Alton in 1980, details his time as a gang banger, explains his inspiring conversion and ends in the present day.

Williams said that his book emphasizes the possibility of making good from bad and “persevering through the tough times.” The book centers on faith and “how I held on through the pounding head shots and body blows that life threw at me,” Williams said.

The cover of “The Comeback” fittingly features a pair of red boxing gloves. Williams has had to fight his entire life, both figuratively and literally. After his parents divorced, Williams said he was influenced by his environment to turn to gang banging to help maintain a stable environment at home.

“I had to do what I had to do,” Williams said. Doing what he had to do, however, led to multiple charges with the most serious drawing the possibility of a six- to 15-year sentence.

It was then that Williams decided to change his life. “I didn't want to strike out with the lord,” Williams said. Williams was “saved” in 2003, became a Christian rapper and started attending church, where he met his wife Michelle “Lady Roo” Williams.

After losing his steel-working job in 2010, Williams was faced yet another setback. He decided to attend barber school and opened his own barbershop in 2010. Williams went on to become a minister in 2012, but there was one problem: He didn't have a location to hold service.

As a result, “New Beginnings Outreach International” started in the barbershop. The Williams couple didn't let the lack of a location diminish their determination to grow their ministry. After about a year of hard work, they were able to move their church to a building located at 1840 E. Broadway, Alton, Illinois, 62002.

The book signing for “The Comeback” would have come much earlier, but Williams has had some additional obstacles since the book's release in October of 2016. He suffered a broken collarbone from a car accident in November and was at the doctor's office when he spoke to The St. Louis American.

Overcoming adversity is nothing new to Williams, who has had to do so for a seemingly endless time.

“The Comeback” can be purchased at More information about his church can be found at
Tashan Reed - STL American (Mar 20, 2017)
When Alton native, the Rev. Darrin Williams a k a “SluggerRoo,” was 23 years old, he found himself at a crossroads.

He had been shot at multiple times; car jacked; faced prison time; and, unsure if he would survive from one day to the next.

He knew if he wanted to have a real future, he had to make some serious changes.

And change he did.

After years of being involved with a street gang, selling drugs, excessive drinking and pot smoking, he faced multiple charges that could result in years in prison. While on probation, he began to turn to God, recalling teachings he had learned as a child while attending church with his grandmother.

He got a job, began earning money, and met the woman who would later become his wife.

Both of them had rough upbringings; both wanted to improve their lives. She began talking to him about God, and in 2003, he started going to church and “found” the Lord.

“I turned in my ‘player’ card, I stopped drinking and smoking, and I knew I could do all things through Christ,” Williams said.

Now a pastor, barber, hip-hop artist, film producer — and author, Williams and his wife, Michelle “Lady Roo,” co-pastor New Beginnings Outreach International, a church at 1840 E. Broadway in Alton. It developed in 2012 out of his neighboring barber shop, New Beginnings with Roo.

Three or four years ago, he decided he wanted to write a book to let others know s that just when things look particularly bleak — all can change.

“My faith helped me through everything,” Williams said. “The book is about my life from conception to now.”

He calls “The Comeback: Fighting Back with Faith” basically, “three books in one.” First, it tells the story of his beginnings because he feels people have to know where you came from to know who you are; his transition — how he made changes for the better; and thirdly, living out his saved life.

Metaphorically relating his life to a boxing match, he said after many rounds of suffering devastating pounding headshots, he got his second wind. He was often knocked down, but managed to get back up.

A basketball player, he graduated from Alton High School in 1999, and was accepted to college where he planned to play ball and study architectural drafting. He couldn’t afford it.

He joined a gang, and was ultimately, facing six to 15 years in prison. Since, then, he’s been laid off from work the same year that his wife was also laid off. His wife’s brother was murdered. Later his wife’s cousins were murdered.

“Many things happened that if we didn’t have faith in God, we would have been knocked out,” Williams said. “I wanted to document what God has done with my life. He is always there for us.”

Williams has been cutting hair since he was 12 years old, and had some success in the hip hop music business. But when he felt God’s calling, he said he knew sticking with his barber shop and concentrating on opening a church was what he was meant to do.

In June 2012, the two started New Beginnings Outreach International Church at 1840 E. Broadway, right next door to the New Beginnings with Roo barber shop.

When the two married, Michelle had three children, and now the couple has four grandchildren.

“I am so blessed,” Williams said. “And we’ve gone back to music, too.”

Both are Christian rappers and recording artists, using their music to spread the word of God. And what Williams does at the church goes beyond religion. There they talk with members about gang life, marriage, and handling finances, among many other “life skills” subjects.

“The word I have is universal,” Williams said. “My wife and I learned so much about how important things like finances are, about life, and just being good stewards.”

Michelle is also a front desk technician at a local doctor’s office.

“The Comeback: Fighting Back with Faith” is published by Cooke House Publishing, and is available in softcover for $14.95. It can be purchased at New Beginnings, at, or at For more information, visit

Reach writer Vicki Bennington at and Twitter @vicben1.
Vicki Bennington - The Telegraph (Oct 26, 2016)
From gangs to God
by Nathan Grimm October 15, 2016


ALTON — It’s one often found only in works of fiction, but there’s nothing make-believe about Darrin Williams’ story.

Williams, an Alton pastor, Christian recording artist and reformed gangbanger, is set to release an autobiography about his life entitled “The Comeback: Fighting back with Faith.” The book, released through Cooke House Publishing, will come out Oct. 17.

The book chronicles Williams’ life from boyhood to present day, sampling snapshots while also reflecting — or, rather, Roo-flecting, as Williams calls it, a nod to his “Slugger Roo” nickname — on the choices and events that led him to where he is today. Williams, 36, said the book will also be motivational, offering encouragement and tips for all aspects of life.

“This book is just going to give people a positive outlook of redemption and what you can do when you change your life for good,” Williams said.

Williams was a self-described drug dealer and gangbanger in the Alton area in his youth. In December 2003, Williams said he was “saved,” and in the years since he’s worked to help others from going down similar paths. Williams said he’s given motivational speeches and has done outreach in 10 prisons — just a few of the ways he’s worked to change lives.

In 2012, Williams also started his own church, New Beginnings Outreach International. The church, which worships at the Alton Plaza Campus, 1840 E. Broadway in Alton, grew out of his barber shop at Alton Plaza Campus.

Ever since that fateful day in 2003, Williams said he’s been eager to tell his story. Now, 13 years later, the story is ready.

“I’ve always wanted to write a book about my life, but I didn’t have the time,” Williams said. “A lot of people always asked, ‘When is the book coming out?’

“I’ve been doing this for 13 years, and I really didn’t know when I was going to do it. So, I’ve been writing it probably about the last five years, bits and pieces here and there. And it finally was the time to release it this year.”

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Nathan Grimm - The Advantage News (Oct 15, 2016)
Press Release FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE New Beginnings Outreach International Receives 2015 Best of Alton Award Alton Award Program Honors the Achievement
ALTON July 2, 2015 -- New Beginnings Outreach International has been selected for the 2015 Best of Alton Award in the Religious Organization category by the Alton Award Program.
Each year, the Alton Award Program identifies companies that we believe have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category. These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and our community. These exceptional companies help make the Alton area a great place to live, work and play.
Various sources of information were gathered and analyzed to choose the winners in each category. The 2015 Alton Award Program focuses on quality, not quantity. Winners are determined based on the information gathered both internally by the Alton Award Program and data provided by third parties.
About Alton Award Program
The Alton Award Program is an annual awards program honoring the achievements and accomplishments of local businesses throughout the Alton area. Recognition is given to those companies that have shown the ability to use their best practices and implemented programs to generate competitive advantages and long-term value.
The Alton Award Program was established to recognize the best of local businesses in our community. Our organization works exclusively with local business owners, trade groups, professional associations and other business advertising and marketing groups. Our mission is to recognize the small business community's contributions to the U.S. economy.
SOURCE: Alton Award Program
CONTACT: Alton Award Program Email: URL:
1 of 1 7/21/15 1:25 PM
Alton Award Program - Alton Award Program (Jul 21, 2015)
ALTON — Leaders in the Alton area are spending time with preschoolers at Essic Robinson Head Start in Alton as the school celebrates Community Helpers Week.

The week was designed to introduce the students to leaders in their community and to see what they do.

“We chose this week because it is Fire Prevention Week, but then we decided to expand it and invite more people from the community to participate,” said Essic Robinson teacher mentor Alison Christy.

Members of the Alton Fire Department kicked off the week by giving the children a tour of their fire truck. One of the firefighters also put on his gear and mask to demonstrate how they help kids when there is a fire.

“Some students were scared at first when they put on the mask, but then they are aware and know that this person is here to help them,” said Christy.

Alton Mayor Brant Walker also came to the center to tell the children about his job. He read allowed the book Llama Llama Time to Share. The book teaches children about the importance of sharing.

“If you can reach kids at this age, it can make a difference,” said Mayor Walker.

Later in the week, members of the Alton Police Department and Pastor Darrin Williams of New Beginnings Outreach International will spend time with the students.

“We hope that the children will aspire to be like these leaders. They are heroes and someone they should look up to,” said Christy.

The Essic Robinson Head Start center at 1802 E. Broadway is one of five centers operated by Riverbend Head Start & Family Services. The non-profit prepares 945 impoverished children for kindergarten through its early childhood development programs and works with the parents to address issues they are facing so they can better support their child’s education.

“This is a great program. Education is the key if you want to break the cycle of poverty,” said Mayor Walker.
Pastor Roo?
April 14th "The Call was answered!" Slugger Roo has step up to the plate to plant at church. Now Pastor Roo with the help of his wife LadyRoo will start a new ministry in Alton,IL. They have already begun a prayer/bible study in their barbershop. "Break'n'Bread" is the name of the meetings that are held every Tuesday night. They have a heart for the people and will continue to share the Gospel but in different role now.. Keep them in your prayers more details coming soon.
D.L. Williams - Pastor Roo? (Apr 28, 2012)
13 May 2007


Living It

Slugger Roo schools with Praiz'

Wednesday, May 9, 2007 9:11 PM CDT

..> A gospel hip-hop 411

By Chris King Of the St. Louis American

"When they invite you to go praise in a club, don't always say no," Praiz' was saying to Slugger Roo.

"That's why I call my thing 'Parking Lot Praiz Beats.' We do it in the street or in the church. I hate to sing 'Deliver Me' in the church - that's just preaching to the choir."

Slugger Roo was really taking that in and nodding, in gradual agreement.

"We've got to represent who we are," Praiz' said.

..> .. AdSys ad not found for entertainment/living_it:middle --> ..> "I'm going to take what you said to heart," Slugger Roo said.

"I'm way too confident in who I am as a Christian to worry about walking into a club," Praiz' continued. "If 50 Cent walked into your church, he's still going to be 50 Cent, right? If you and me can get on Extreme Bling, let's go!"

Slugger Roo laughed with Praiz, then said, "That makes it all so clear."

They were sitting across from each other at a restaurant bar, drinking soda, with me in between them, enjoying a beer.

.. AdSys ad not found for entertainment/living_it:middle2 --> ..> Praiz' - whose pop gospel single "Deliver Me" tore up St. Louis as an independent, on the strength of its Quiet Storm feel and simple message ("Oh Lord, deliver me from myself") - was visiting this past weekend from Tallahassee, where he is musical director for a young church.

Slugger Roo had driven over from the East Side to meet Praiz' while he was in town. I consider him the heir apparent to Praiz' for local gospel hip-hop (putting aside Marcus T. Flame, whose game is national). I wanted to put them together, see them connect.

Slugger Roo is a self-confessed former gangbanger, who still has a certain swagger from the streets, not to mention gold in his mouth, some bling on his fingers and shiny tips on his braids.

Praiz', on the other hand, looks like the laid-back, hard-to-impress family man that he is. But he has been grinding on pop gospel for years and has experienced success at a level that Slugger Roo only has begun to glimpse.

"The best thing," Praiz' said, "is the women who come up to you after you have performed and say, "The Lord told me you're my husband. And I say, 'Did he tell you about my wife, too?'"

Slugger Roo was on fire with Christ and the urgent need to testify - but he also seemed a little agitated about the surprisingly competitive gospel music scene and how hard it can be to break into it.

"I could care less about competition," Praiz' said. "If I can't be on stage, then I don't need to be on stage. Right now, it seems like I've got something to say, so He's using me."

Slugger Roo nodded, taking it in, knowing that in one weekend Praiz' had just been on every major gospel stage on both sides of the river. Now he was going to go back home to Tallahassee, lay low, lead worship services, raise his four kids.

The veteran and the relative newcomer talked shop on CD manufacturers, iTunes, CD Baby, logos, T-shirts.

Slugger Roo had brought Praiz' a copy of his new CD, and Praiz' was impressed that dude had done his own logo and graphic design. Slug, on the other hand, was impressed that Praiz' made many of his own beats. It looked like an unofficial beat-for-logo exchange might be worked out down the road, and who knows what else. They programmed each other's cell phone numbers into their phones.

Above all, Praiz' cautioned a fellow independent against the industry side of gospel music.

"The longer you can keep doing it by yourself, the better," Praiz' said. "The longer you can keep spending your own money, you're good."

Slugger Roo will perform from his new CD, Testimony of Slugger Roo, at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, May 19 at Vintage Vinyl. Check out or

Praiz is at and
Friday, December 08, 2006

SLUGGER ROO hits grand slam with "Testimony'

Slugger Roo hits grand slam with 'Testimony'

Thursday, December 7, 2006 9:02 AM CST

"Who Got Saved?" Vice Lord gangbanger and drug dealer Darrin Williams known as SluggerRoo committed his life to God on Dec. 14, 2003. Photo by Wiley Price
A new CD brings street smarts to Jesus

By Chris King

Of the St. Louis American

The Testimony of Slugger Roo is a landmark in local gospel hip-hop, showing just how versatile a format it is for music, ministry, memoir and even humor. It's a major achievement - and a very interesting and varied CD.

Most important, for music fans, is that the record pops and flows. Because of the disc's diversity, there aren't that many raps and beats, but they are all solid and a few are spectacular.

The hit single (if there is any justice on the radio) should be "Thinking of a Way Out Da Game (Jesus is the Way Out)," which begs you to shout along. Like many of Slugger Roo's rhymes, it's based in his years on the streets as a teen leader in The Vice Lords. It's a believable peek inside the mind of a brother trying to clean up and deciding to use Jesus as his cleanser.

--> AdSys ad not found for religion/local_religion:middle --> A strange but also effective rap track is "Who Got Saved? (Slugger Roo Got Saved)," another singalong that manages to promote both Jesus and the artist's own brand in every chorus. The strange part is the backing track, which sounds rooted in death metal. It's weird but beautiful.

Rap is only one aspect of Slugger Roo's game. The record opens with a sincere prayer that his CD will do the work of God, and it ends with a live recording of a sanctified church service when Slugger Roo apparently delivered his first sermon. This rocks just as hard as the rap tracks.

The record also has personal testimony, as the title would suggest. Slugger Roo lets a couple of other people step up to the mic, including one child, but his own extended, self-titled testimony is the deepest waters. Anyone who wonders what goes through the mind of a gangbanger needs to study this text.

Speaking of studying texts, Slugger Roo also offers some fairly straight-up Bible study on this record. One track is titled after a scripture from Revelations, and "He Didn't Have to, But He Did" is a masterpiece of translation, out of The Old Testament and into hip-hop slang. Given that it's about Cane and Abel, you could say this is a sermon about two ancient brothers delivered for the contemporary young brother.

--> AdSys ad not found for religion/local_religion:middle2 --> Slugger Roo copies a page from the street rappers he used to run with and sprinkles skits throughout the record. It goes without saying that they aren't as funny as most street skits, since so much juicy material and language is off-limits in a gospel context. The amazing thing is that they manage to be funny at all, without disqualifying the record from being played in Sunday school, as it deserves to be. They're about as funny as your average Fat Albert episode.

Then the dude goes off the hook by chopping and screwing two of his better rap tracks, "Thinking of a Way Out Da Game" and "Chillin', Readin' My Bible." I wonder why everybody doesn't drop a chopped-and-slurred remix onto every record. The remixes here are artful and interesting and succeed in taking local gospel hip-hop to an entirely new and cool place.

"Only one Blood saved me from the Bloods and Crips," Slugger Roo raps, in a typically clever and soulful line. This record shows that the Blood left Slugger Roo with all the good parts of the streets - the tight beats, gutsy rhymes and innovative intelligence. As Praiz' would say, Ain't nobody mad but the devil.

Slugger Roo will release his new CD The Testimony of Slugger Roo Dec. 15 at Treasures of the Kingdom bookstore in Fairview Heights. For more information visit
Chris King - St.Louis American