Skip to main content

What's Up Magazine

Multi-Award Winning Gospel Icon Fred Hammond Spreads Faith through Music

Oct 27, 2016 04:00PM ● By Nicole Gould

Fred Hammond

From the time that he was a toddler, Fred Hammond was destined to take his talent for singing and his devotion to faith and spread it amongst others. Today, he holds Grammy, Stellar, Dove, BET, and N.A.A.C.P awards, has sold over 10 million albums worldwide, and has a dedicated fan base.

Taking his talents on the road, Fred, along with his brother Ray, has created a way for people to get the utmost personal experience of his musical talents by developing the Festival of Praise tour.

“We want them to take away a wow moment that God is not just in the little box we put him in over the last 50 years. He’s bigger, he’s greater, and that it’s no need for us to play second best to the world or to anybody else.”
– Fred Hammond

The Festival of Praise will be coming to the Wicomico Youth & Civic Center in Salisbury on Thursday, November 3rd, 7:30 p.m. Accompanying Fred this year will be Karen Clark Sheard, Comedian Earthquake, Regina Bell, Casey J, Hezekiah Walker, Israel Houghton, and special appearances by Donnie McClurkin. Tickets range from $30–45 and can be purchased here.

How did you get started with music, specifically gospel music?

I got started in music when I was very small. My mother bought me a drum set, I was always beating on pots and pans and everything. She bought me a little three-piece drum set and let me practice the songs on the 8-track and the Hi-Fi Stereo. I know people don’t know what that is, but I would practice to Billy Preston, Stevie Wonder, and Lou Rawls.

Back in the day a lot of the old bands, Ohio players, and a lot of the church music, James Cleveland, and all their music that was out back then. And then she took me to rehearsals. She was a choir director and she took me to rehearsals and when they could, they would let me practice with them on the drums and that’s how I got started playing music.

Later on in life I had a desire to witness, but I wasn’t a pasture, I didn’t feel I was a preacher and I’m probably more of a pasture and less of a preacher, but I wanted to put it the way I wanted to put it, and I thought singing and music was a way to tell people about the Lord. I developed that from the 10th grade on, my mother brought me a fender bass, and the rest is history. I pursued it ever since.

How does your faith influence your music?

My faith definitely influenced my music because I have a heart to tell people and like I said before, I wanted to witness to people, like the Jehovah Witness. But I didn’t do it well, one-on-one, I didn’t have that orated skill. When I found out I could sing and people would listen, I dedicated that to telling people and it’s really the call that influences the music.

How did the Festival of Praise come about? What is the hardest part about producing a tour? What is the most rewarding part about it?

The Festival of Praise came about because Ray, my brother, and I were always trying to put together a tour. We think that’s what you should do, you shouldn’t wait for people to call you and say “Come to my place, we want to do this, and have a concert here and there.” We just figured that we should be able to go out, put a string of dates together and take a level of production, make it high value, and those really are the hard things…to pull all of this stuff together.

You have two semi-trucks out here, four tour buses, and you have fueling, toll stops, scale trucks, personnel, and then how to pull the general market in, that’s why we pulled in Earthquake and Regina Bell, to pull in a different audience and from there on that’s really how we pulled the whole thing together.

How did you make the selection for the other artists on this tour?

The way we made selections to pick artists, we sit down first of the year and we have a big map of people. We look at them on the board we analyze you know, if there’s somebody with a great record out, ok great. But then, how we feel people will work together and how will this one work with that one. That’s kind of the vibe. Each year it’s been really good. It started with Donnie McClurkin and I, then the next year it was Donnie, Kim Burrell, Isaac Carree, Hezekiah Walker, Israel Houghton, Jessica Reedy, and my man Zacardi Cortez.

Eric McGill -- Blue Suede Photography


What are you hoping people will take away from this tour?

That the presentation is such a wow moment, and it can only get bigger. We want them to take away a wow moment that God is not just in the little box we put him in over the last 50 years. He’s bigger, he’s greater, and that its no need for us to play second best to the world or to anybody else. But we want them to be inspired, we want them to be touched, we want them to feel prayed for, we want them to feel like they found the Lord even, if that’s the case. We want them to find all those places and all those emotions.

What are your thoughts on gospel music in today’s society? Are there any messages in gospel music that you think should be a bigger part of contemporary music, and not just for Christians?

My thought on today’s gospel music is that its great this new generation is coming up, it’s really great. They are singing, they’re not ashamed. It’s not like there trying to fit in on either side, they know the side that they’re on and the beauty of it is that R&B music has pretty much changed and gone and its just hip hop and it’s so drastically different that young artists today are able to say, “I feel this way, I sing this way, and this is my music”. Without feeling like they have to sound like something else, but they can sound like themselves, whatever that is. Today’s gospel music I cheer it on and hope the best for it.

What can you tell us about your new album, Worship Journal Live? Why did you decide to record this album live instead of in the studio?

Worship Journal Live, my latest offering of a live concert, I haven’t done a live album in 19 years and the record company and I decided to get together. This was my last album under this current contract and I wanted to go out with a bang. I really appreciated Houston and how they received it and Pasture Remus Wright. This album is really a bunch of sing-a-longs, I wrote songs and we wrote songs that people would sing along and they would be able to feel it when they sing.

How do you juggle family and your music career?

In my earlier days it was more career and the family kind of had to take a back seat while I built what I needed to build. Now the beauty of it was it wasn’t just for me, it was to take care of the family. Now, I’m older, and at 55 years old, God had blessed me to spend the three years with my son as he went through his high school basketball days, he was a star point guard. I loved being at every, every, every game I could. Out of the three years, if there were 60 or 70 games, I might have missed eight. And so I really appreciate that.

You try to do what you have to do because when you work you have to work hard. But, we laid the ground work early so that we wouldn’t have to work so late in our career.

What’s your favorite hobby to do outside of music?

My favorite hobby outside of music is anything to do with cars. I love customizing cars, we’re talking about the old school stuff. My brother and I, we would take old cars, wrecked up cars, and take them off the frame and restore them and powder coat the bumpers, and the frames and get new screws and bolts to go in the front end, in the back end, and paint it and just want it come to life. It’s like building a new car again and I love riding motorcycles, I love boating, love stuff like that and that’s just kind of where I am. Those are my real hobbies. I love going to the movies and stuff like that as well.

What’s a fun fact about you that people wouldn’t know?

I think the most fun fact that you can find out about me is I love laughing and I love having fun. I’m kind of a comedian, but it comes from a natural place. I’m not a stick in the mud, not a practical joker, but I love a good laugh when you can sit around with friends, have a ball, laugh, and be witty. Stuff like that, I love that.