Fred Hammond: A biker, discipler and giant of gospel

Wednesday 19th February 2003

A giant of gospel music, FRED HAMMOND now has yet another string to his bow as Tony Cummings finds out.

Fred Hammond: A biker, discipler and giant of gospel

In gospel music seemingly everyone reaching middle age or beyond is referred to as "legendary". But the word still has some credence when directed at Fred Hammond, one of the towering figures of postwar gospel who, taking his lead from '60s pioneer Andrae Crouch, has both brought the rhythmic muscle of contemporary R&B into the gospel musical brew while being a key figure in its fiscal development into top dollar spinner. But possibly his most valuable contribution to gospel music's ever evolving story is bringing the dynamic of real, Spirit-filled worship out of the frenetic insularity of African American church and into some of the largest auditoria in the world. As he said in 1966 when describing the award winning 'The Inner Court' album, "It's a sound that is in the progressive African-American churches. It's not trying to play the soul, 'Bringing In The Sheaves' stuff. It's the dancin', shoutin', victorious gospel." His latest album, 'Speak Those Things: Pages Of Life Chapter 3', is a response to the aftermath of September 11th. He was asked by U magazine how he would sum up the core theme of the album. Fred responded, "When life takes a turn for the worse, still speak life. The truth is we're going to make it through this. Although your situation may not work out the way you need it to... you're going to be okay."

The singer/producer went on to speak on how Sept 11 had affected him. "I've never taken life for granted, but Sept 11 brought the worldwide situation close to home. Other nations have been rebuilding from nothing for years. Just look at Jerusalem. But we've been so far removed from that. Now we're seeing up close. It also made me think about the closeness of he Lord's coming. But God has also impressed upon me another truth: planes are striking towers in people's lives every day. Just yesterday I watched as my friend was taken off a respirator. His two little boys don't have their father now. Terrible things happen in families every day. The way we all felt on Sept 11, somebody feels that kind of pain every day... 'Pages Of Life' is a continuation of Chapters I & II. The first one was like a manual. 'Purpose Of Life' was a toolbox; it dealt with purpose and destiny. This is more like going back to the first one, more of a story or a manual... I've gone through a lot of personal struggles over the last couple of years and I'm talking about what God has done..."

One of Hammond's most interesting admissions concerns his changing understanding of worship. "I didn't know 'worship'," he said. "All I knew was going to church - sing some songs, listen to the choir, give an offering, listen to the preacher, have an altar call and go home. That was Sunday morning worship. 'Til one day I learned that worship is intimacy with God, a love affair with God. It's a heart-to-heart thing. If I expose my heart to God, all of it - he knows it anyway - then you get intimate before him. It's not just raising your hands and getting emotional, worship is a heartfelt, intimate relationship with God. Praise is something different. I'd say I started making that conversion in worship around 1993. I was at a different place then. Now, I've been given a mandate. The Lord said, 'Lift me up as high as you can and watch what I'll do with it.' In the meantime, I've watched the simplest songs bless people in amazing ways. And I've tried to write hits and made 'em slick and palatable for the world and showed 'em Jesus in a different light. But it's 'Let The Praise Begin' - it fits no R&B format, no secular format whatsoever - but when I do it, it's what the people want to hear."

One of the most extraordinary aspects of the hugely busy gospel music figure is that he has started an outreach in his community, Motorcycle Evangelistic Outreach. The gospel star spoke about the work with unbridled enthusiasm, "I read a book, God Come Near by Max Lucado, and it changed my life. The Jesus I always saw on television had no expression. His beard was always trimmed. He was a saint. But I read that book and it made me think, 'Why would God choose to be born in a stable, in the stinking hay with urine all over the place?' That's because I really believe he understood what we're really in, what the world is really in, and he hung out with sinners, the crazy people, the sick people... real life, that's where it's at. I've always loved motorcycles, anything with wheels, and so now I've just learned that we can use these bikes to reach the community that I'm in - in Detroit - and I just really want these people to know the Lord. Last night, I was outside a bar sitting on my bike and this woman came up to me and started talking to me. There's no telling how many people drove by and saw me hanging outside a bar talking to a woman. It's all about being approachable, being available for all those people who would never come to a church. And I'm a church guy, so I know what that's about."

Tony Cummings acknowledges use of an interview published in U magazine. CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.
About Tony Cummings
Tony CummingsTony Cummings is the music editor for Cross Rhythms website and attends Grace Church in Stoke-on-Trent.


Reader Comments

Posted by michelle in oxford, oh @ 21:06 on Nov 16 2011

yea i know this comment is oh so late, but where did i read in this article Fred Hammond was divorced or he had cheated on his wife. Maybe I am johnny come lately on this subject, but I honestly did not read that anywhere. But one thing is for sure people are funny because they are ready to judge people without knowing the real truth. Whether it be Fred Hammond or the common man people are so judgemental toward people. One person said only God will be the judge of our situations and circumstances. I have learned to mind my own business and until the person who the rumor is about tells me the truth, I really don't listen. Think what you want, but we all have something in our past, we wish we did not have. Think about that.

Posted by Terence bradford in Birminghan Alabama @ 04:32 on Aug 16 2010

He that is without sin , let him(or her) cast the first stone. annointed or not we all sin and fall short of the Glory of God.Instead of talk about each other , let us all pray and be stength to one another.That's the only way we're going to make it. Peace my Brothers and sisters.

Posted by nunya in detroit, mi @ 06:02 on Mar 17 2010

wow..yall this dude has been divorced for so long now...its old...i actually went to dinner with his ex-wife, she is friends with some close friends of mine..she was nice btw..they are both waaay past it, and he is indeed dating Erica...i hope they are married by now because they have been together for like 7 years now, and that is too long to be just talking bout getting married...i actually know her...she is really sweet, yes she can cook too....and Fred is a cool guy as well..I feel that he is annointed, but that is not enough to get you into with that said...yes, pray for them...

Reply by Mary in Boston Ma @ 00:32 on Aug 3 2010

I'm a little grieved that you wrote on the personal business of the Hammonds and your comment about anointing not getting you to heaven. You should repent for your mouth being an open grave.

He who repeats a matter separates close friends. I'm grieved at your post and sorry you did it sir.

[report abuse]

Posted by Marina in Latvia @ 07:51 on Aug 27 2009

First of all i have to say, that i`m from Latvia and totally adore Mr. Hammond`s creative work. His songs spoke to me the Word of the Lord in a lot of difficult times in my life. He sings increadible melodies, full of anointing and revelations of God.
Concerning his divorce I would say so...i don`t want to mix Fred`s gift (for it`s God`s) and his marriage, neither i would dare to judge him. The Bible forbids divorse and that is the truth of God, still situations in life can be deceitful. The main thing about it is to be led by the Holy Spirit in order to know what is right in this situation.
It is a great regret to me, that great people of God like FH allow such example to another show-biz stars, another folks....but life isn`t perfect. Only God knows all things about this!

Reply by RickyL in Chicago @ 10:06 on Aug 31 2009

There is nothing we can say or do when our musical teachers like Fred, has a personal bout with something as devastating as divorce. Could it be that God is using someone like him to show the rest of us the truth in him. Has he truly divorced from the greatest love of all, the Lord Almighty himself?. Just when we think we understand the Lord, he reminds us to never lean to our own understanding. Let's lift Fred up with Love as he journeys on a walk that many of us may never experience. Peace.

[report abuse]

Posted by Lisa in tennessee @ 15:27 on Jul 17 2009

We don't know what they do in their public lives but anointed simply means that you are smeared with God's ability to get results. I believe it is safe to say they are all anointed artists. Their music is a blessing to millions of people and their music gets results.

Posted by MJ in Bahamas @ 20:00 on Apr 30 2009

I truly wish that gospel artists would open up more about their divorce and the hard things they go through so they can show us where they went wrong and how other Christians aspiring to be gospel artists can avoid the same mistakes.

Posted by shine in nigeria, africa @ 18:42 on Apr 27 2009

hi Robin. just wanted you to know that the way Jesus was perceived as Lord was that He fulfilled the Scriptures. he opened up the book and read about Himself: the book of Isaiah. if you know what Fred's songs are doing in the life of Christians in Nigeria, if you know what meaning has been given to the lives of folks listening to yolanda here and what impact Hezechiah has pulled in our lives, you'll never doubt that they are anointed. i need to correct the fact that you said lucifer wasnt anointed. sure he was...He lost it. in the case of these wonderful ministers of God that you doubt, they are Sons in the house of God! not just some children who just got born again. all they need to do is to ask God to forgive them if they sin.. please, be careful the way you talk about men such as these because even if they made mistakes, you are not their Judge. God is! you remember aron and mariam? they tried judging moses. even though if seemed wrong that he did the wrong thing, God let them know they went way out of line. i will advise you keep out of it, okay? it's way too big for you to play GOD. For your info, we still love them very very many of us do. they are humans like you. they have a christian life they are building too.

Posted by robin in south @ 05:46 on Feb 26 2009

I read P. Josephs comment and yes, it was nice to repent, but i question why you feel these people are anointed? Just because someone can sing or lead worship doesnt make them anointed, you have to follow them after the spot light is off to know. May we learn to stop calling talent, anointed, Lucifer then is anointed, huh?

Posted by MiMi in in the south @ 02:54 on Oct 22 2008

So, he was cheating on his wife?

Posted by DAVID OFORI ATTA in RIVIERA,ABIDJAN,IVORY COAST @ 18:35 on Mar 19 2008

i'm the most shocked person in this world after such news. in 1998 my dad being a great man of God had divorced with my lovely mother. when i found the truth i wanted to stop music. with the encouragement of mum i had to take it up. fred is my model with kirk franklin. after such divorce what could happen to the child or children this is my message. i'm prayin 4 ya. fred. u shal stand in the 'midnite hour'

The opinions expressed in the Reader Comments are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms.

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