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Fred Hammond

Overcoming Recession


Fred Hammond has seen a lot in his 30-year career in the gospel music biz, but even he admits he hasn’t seen anything like the

economic downturn that has gripped the nation, and recording industry, for the past couple of years.


In light of the recession, Hammond — a student of contemporary culture whose music reflects both the spiritual as well as the here-and-now — said he was grateful to be staying busy in his recording and concert endeavors.


Hammond, 49, who has Grammy, Stellar and Dove awards to his credit, will be the headline act when JoyFest comes Saturday to Worlds of Fun in Kansas City, Mo. Performing with him will be Donald Lawrence, J. Moss, Canton Jones and comedian Bone Hampton.

Though he said touring takes a toll on his body, more so now than in the past, he wouldn’t have it any other way.


“At the end of the day, I still enjoy it,” Hammond said of his traveling. “I’m so grateful that I have the opportunity to do what I love.”

Hammond said people — including recording artists — sometimes feel as though their struggles “are unique to them” without realizing others are going through the same things.


Then, he said, he hears other people talking and finds out they are dealing with many of the same issues.


Hammond referred to a recent BET Awards ceremony he attended. There, he and other guests whom he referred to as some “heavy hitters” in the music business compared notes. Some of those in the room with him at the awards show included Yolanda Adams, Kirk Franklin, Kurt Carr and Marvin Sapp.


Talk eventually turned to where the artists were headed after the BET Awards show. The artists said they were planning to go straight to other concert appearances — one artist was on to San Diego, another to Las Vegas and another to Indianapolis.


“Somebody said, ‘Thank God for work,’ ” Hammond related, “then everyone said, ‘Amen.’ “


Hammond, who gained attention in the 1980s as bass player for the Winans, was one of six original members of the gospel group Commissioned. He later was frontman for the group Radical for Christ. He also has performed as a solo artist, as well as served as a producer of numerous projects.


Among his best-known hits are “Blessed,” “No Weapon,” “King of Glory,” “Celebrate (He Lives)” and “Let the Praise Begin.”


Among the keys to his longevity, he said, has been his penchant to stay “relevant” to his audience. One of the ways he does this, he said, is to keep up with the times, following news, sports and music trends and events on a daily basis.


The result, he said, is an ability to relate to audiences, both in his music and in what he says during concerts.


Hammond said he has the ability to “connect the dots and keep it real” for audiences. Speaking from personal experiences, ranging from the 2004 divorce from his wife of 20 years to running his son across town to football practice, Hammond said he can talk about many issues that resonate with audience members.


Once he makes that connection, he said, his audience is able to open up to the message he conveys in his music.


Hammond said his newest album, “Life in the Word,” is being released Tuesday on his new label, F. Hammond Family Entertainment. A YouTube-style video of a concert in his warehouse. He said the double-disc set is his way of giving his fans more bang for their buck, particularly when some may be having their own economic struggles.


“You’ve gotta give more,” Hammond said, “but you don’t have to charge more.”


Hammond also said he plans to delve into jazz music, with a tribute album honoring some of the musicians that influenced him most on the way.