Gospel Legend, Fred Hammond, Talks New Album & Remaining Relevant
November 2014 marks the moment when Fred Hammond released his newest project, “I Will Trust.” HEED staff sat down to review the album and talk with Fred Hammond about his creative process, themes from the project, current events, and culture trends!
If you haven’t gotten it already, and you’re looking to be inspired, the new project is worth checking out. Fred Hammond has not deviated from his signature sound but he has incorporated a lot of exciting elements: plays on rhythmic patterns, the steady theme of triumph over pain, and signature lush vocals. Hammond notes that the inspiration for this album came from one of his own trials in life. Earlier on in the year, he went through a double knee surgery, which left him in severe pain. At the time of our interview, he states, “I’m not 100% but I’m grateful for the 60% that I’ve gained back.” He remembers recording this album through that pain. “No one really knows this except for my musicians, but I would be in sessions, almost doubled over with pain. But I sang and wrote through it. I believe in the power of God, what He said in His word. So, my feelings had to catch up with the knowledge that I had. I wrote myself out of the pain and through the pain. This album was meant to do that for other people.”
The tone of this project is both jubilant and grateful, although written during such a trying time. Hammond explains, “You won’t hear a lot of, ‘I’m so tired and come get me out of this.” The project is an encouragement that trials can and do end. In some tracks, such as All the Way, he drew upon inspirations such as Sting & the Police to create a sound that was intriguing and celebratory. Other tracks he left more subdued and let the lyricism speak for itself.
As he unpacked his inspirations for the project, Hammond tuned into the pain that the current events of our nation have exposed. “I think about what kind of pain the family of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO might be in. What kind of pain did they feel when they got the call that their son had been killed and left in the middle of the street? It’s not something I could even imagine…” He thought about this scenario and many others ranging from national to personal and used this project as a way to “offer therapy” to those who may be hurting.
“My music is about serving people where they are. What do you say to people who have been attending our churches for so long, tithing… and they’re losing their homes. (They’re thinking) you told us if we give, we would be prosperous. So, what can I tell those people? I can’t promise you a new car or a check in the mail, but I can promise that they are loved. (The church) can promise that if people are struggling, we can help. That’s where I’m coming from.”
We asked Fred Hammond to talk about how he stayed relevant in the Gospel music industry for such a long time. He explained that understanding current events, trends, and experiences was invaluable in this process. One such current cultural event he referenced in the interview was the video clip of the COGIC convention, where congregant Andrew Caldwell claimed to be delivered from same sex attraction. The initial video prompted a host of responses: comedic interpretations of the video, memes, and panels covering the state of church, patriarchy, and systemic oppression of congregants identifying as LGBTQ. Hammond’s approach (which he noted might be controversial) was to look at the individual. He said, “Everybody kind of ragged on that guy… I saw him as a person in the struggle… in his mind… he was trying to do something different. The large response that I saw was mocking, laughing. (I thought) it sent a message to say if you ever do this, this is what’s gonna happen…”
Although we did not have time to unpack the nuances of that video, he gave a few reflections as we wrapped up. A few key things remain important to Hammond: never seeing himself as invulnerable, being sensitive to what God is asking of him, and making sure that while he encourages others, he walks through his own life situations circumspectly. So, you can expect to hear some of these themes providing a context for his latest project, “I Will Trust.”
Stay connected with Fred Hammond:
Twitter – @RealFredHammond
Instagram – @RealFredH