Truly creative spirits rarely stand still and, indeed, in the past few years, Fred Hammond’s life has been a whirlwind of change. The acclaimed singer/songwriter/producer left his home in Detroit and settled in Dallas where he began work on his latest chart-topping album, Free to Worship, on Verity Records.
“I wanted a sound that would come out of here that would say familiar, but fresh,” he says of his eighth studio album, which he feels combines both Motown and Texas flavors. “That’s what I believe we accomplished with new vocals and new musicians.”
Hammond was also inspired by the teachings of his pastor, Bishop T.D. Jakes. “I wanted people to be able to hear the seeds that he planted in me over the last year,” says Hammond. “I followed him for many years, but now I’m up under him and I wanted people to hear what I’ve learned. I come to church and I sit and get replenished.”
Hammond has long been an innovator in gospel music. He was an integral part of the ground-breaking group Commissioned and, after retiring from that group in 1995, he went on to launch Radical for Christ. His résumé also includes a stint with the Winans as well as his successful run as a solo artist. Along the way, he’s earned a reputation as “the Babyface of gospel music” for his working in mentoring and producing other artists.
Songwriting has always been a key weapon in Hammond’s arsenal of talents. “It’s really how I convey what’s on the inside and what I’ve been through,” says Hammond, who has his own F. Hammond Music imprint. “I like to keep that simple and I’ve learned to write the way that I talk. Instead of writing in way that’s above everybody’s head or trying to impress people with words and phrases that are very flowery, I like to break it down and make it very, very easy.”