Born c. 1961 in Detroit, MI; wife: Kimberly; children: BreeAnn, Darius Sean. Addresses: Record company--Verity/Zomba Records, 137-139 West 25th St., New York, NY 10001, website: http://www.verityrecords.com. Production company--Face to Face Productions, 21421 Hilltop St., Building 20, Southfield, MI 48034. Website--Fred Hammond Official Website: http://www.fhammond.org.

Since the early 1980s, Fred Hammond has been a well regarded figure on the Contemporary Christian music scene, first with his group Commissioned and later as a solo artist with his own touring choir, Radical for Christ. After more than 20 years in the music business, however, Hammond has become almost as well known for his work as a Christian-music entrepreneur. He has worked on over 80 albums since establishing his own production company, Face to Face, in 1992. He has also taken his music to thousands of fans by keeping up a busy touring schedule. His own album releases have been accompanied by extensive promotional work to encourage urban radio stations to begin playing Contemporary Christian music. As Hammond told Billboard about his efforts to broaden his audience, "People in the African-American church have this conception of praise and worship music as just being white music. So we decided that I would cover all the tunes they would normally do and remix them for the urban setting."

Born in Detroit around 1961, Hammond grew up in a neighborhood where two of the dominant forces were music and religion. Raised in a churchgoing family, Hammond also studied the bass guitar; by the age of 17, he had started to pursue a career in music by playing and singing in his family's church on a regular basis. Hammond's adolescent years, however, were troubled as he struggled to find some direction in his life. "I would steal from the store down the street, then go to church," he admitted to American Visions."But my mother kept us connected to the church, and that gave us a sense of God." He added, "I was another young African American walking around with no clue." After leaving high school, Hammond joined the Army, but the experience did not turn into a career for the budding musician.

After his stint in the Army, Hammond was inspired by the efforts of his friends in the Winan family to start recording and releasing their own music under the group name the Testimonials in the late 1970s. "We all lived together in the neighborhood, we all did music, we all did home recordings with cheesy albums that had covers drawn by our cousins," Hammond later told American Visions. "But the Testimonials had taken it to a whole new level." Impressed by the Winans' professional approach to making Christian music, Hammond toured with the group as its bass player and backup singer. Barely out of his teens, he had already established a career as a professional musician.

With a forceful personality and a drive to succeed, Hammond formed his own group, Commissioned, around 1982. The group released a series of albums in the 1980s with a sound and style that differed little from the contemporary sounds of urban-oriented music, aside from its Christian-themed lyrics. As he discussed his musical influences in an Ebony interview, "I'm from the old school. I've got a bit of [Edwin] Hawkins and the Winans and [James] Cleveland in me, but there is also Earth, Wind & Fire and Stevie Wonder and Gladys Knight. That's my musical heritage. That's what I grew up with. Put that together in one pot, and mix it with high praise and urban flair. My music is cultural."

Although he spent over a decade with Commissioned, the experience was fraught with tension. As he told Tamara Hundley in an interview posted on the Fred Hammond Online website, "I thought Commissioned was my own group because I started it.... But, whenever you have more than one vision, there is division. God deals with one vision. A lot of people confuse vision and ownership. God does not deal in democracy where ministries and groups are concerned. You do not vote on the plan of God." Still, Hammond took pride in Commissioned's achievements. As he boasted in an interview with Melanie Clark of the Gospelflava website, "The sound was cutting edge and if you pull out some of those earlier Commissioned projects, you will find that production-wise, Commissioned was light-years ahead of the pack." Hammond added, "We changed the world."

Despite Commissioned's success--which included a Gospel Music Association Dove Award for Contemporary Gospel Album of the Year in 1990--Hammond decided to focus on a solo career beginning with the 1991 release I Am Persuaded. As he told Billboard, "The agonizing part was that I didn't want to go. Commissioned had been my comfort zone, but I just felt like we had peaked, and vision-wise we were growing apart. It was like six people driving a car with only one steering wheel." He also used his creative vision to branch out as a producer with the opening of his own Face to Face production studios in the Detroit suburb of Southfield, Michigan, in 1992. In less than a decade after the studios opened, Hammond had served as producer or coproducer on approximately 80 albums, including works by the Winans, who were now gospel music superstars.

At home, Hammond and his wife, Kimberly, whom he married in 1986, were also busy raising their daughter, BreeAnn, born two years later. In 1998, the couple adopted a son, Darius Sean Hammond. Hammond hoped his actions would inspire others to serve the children of their own communities. As he told Ebony, "I wanted to be a role model, to help out. We need organizations like the Big Brothers and Big Sisters, but I wanted to go one step further. I wanted to be a father, where my son can see me every day and be right here with me."

In the 1990s Hammond released a string of successful albums with his backing choir, Radical for Christ. The 12-to-15-member group also accompanied him on numerous tours, including the 1997 "Tour of Life" series, which played to over a half-million fans in about 70 cities. Typically, Hammond and Radical for Christ spent about 30 weeks of each year touring throughout the decade. Their fans also saw them on such Christian shows as the 700 Club, Praise the Lord, and the Pat Boone Show, where they made regular appearances. Although the chubby, middle-aged entertainer was an unlikely leading man, he also hoped to get a movie career off the ground. As he told Hundley in characteristically expansive fashion about one such project, "This will be a movie that will get the whole world involved."

Despite his activities as a producer, concert performer, and actor, however, Hammond continued to be best known for his music. His sophomore solo effort, Deliverance, arrived in 1993 and his releases with Radical for Christ, 1995's Inner Court and 1996's The Spirit of David, sold about 350,000 combined copies. The 1998 release Pages of Life: Chapters 1 and 2, however, was Hammond's greatest success to date. In addition to hitting number one on the Billboard gospel album chart, the release eventually earned platinum sales certification. The 2000 release, Purpose by Design, was another number one album on the gospel charts. The album also earned a Dove Award for Best Contemporary Gospel Album of the Year.

After more than 20 years as a professional musician, Hammond took a great deal of satisfaction that his work reached a large cross section of the audience for Christian music. "We have a youth-oriented sound, but now our audience includes people from as early as eight years of age to 60 years old," he told Hundley. "Everybody is targeting the youth now, and although I understand that, I'm trying to give the general body something." Although he was an avid promoter of Contemporary Christian music to a broad audience, Hammond remained focused on his primary reason for making music. "It feels now that people are starting to get into praise and worship. It's like I'm teaching them what to expect. It's like, 'Lord, I appreciate you for hooking me up! I'll teach the people with diligence," he told Clark, adding, "Still a large part of the urban community is not into the praise and worship scene. They like my music, but they don't know why they enjoy what I do."

by Timothy Borden

Fred Hammond's Career

Formed Commissioned, early 1980s; started solo career with release of I Am Persuaded, 1991; founded Face to Face production company, 1992; signed deal with Verity Records, 1996.

Fred Hammond's Awards

Gospel Music Association Dove Award (with Commissioned), Contemporary Gospel Album for Will You Be Ready?, 1990; Dove Award (with various artists), Inspirational Album for Generation 2 Generation, 1993; Dove Award (with various artists), Contemporary Gospel Album for Handel'sMessiah: A Soulful Celebration, 1993; Dove Award (with various artists), Urban Album for Give Me Your Life, 1996; Dove Award, Contemporary Gospel Recorded Song for "Let the Praise Begin," 1999; Stellar Awards, Artist of the Year, Song of the Year, Male Vocalist of the Year, Album of the Year, Producer of the Year, Best Contemporary Male Vocalist, Contemporary Album of the Year, Contemporary Choir of the Year, 1999; Dove Award, Contemporary Gospel Recorded Song for "Power," 2000; Dove Award, Contemporary Gospel Album for Purpose by Design, 2001.

Famous Works

Further Reading

Sources

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Visitor Comments Add a comment…

about 5 years ago

The Lord told me to ask you for material to record to glorify and give praises to God. I would truly appreciate your response, With reauards Sharon Scott Deuteronomy 18:20

over 5 years ago

great man you are i really appreciate your deed, for there is nothing that a human been could do for Jesus Christ will remain en-vain and God promotion can't be forced by human been you are the best ever,you my role model i am looking up to you thank you once again for accepting your higher calling......i agape you Michael from South Africa Amen.........

over 5 years ago

I have loved Fred Hammond's tone of music delivery since Commission. I studied piano as a child, but writing was always my passion. I write songs and poems frequently, but God has yet to allow me to publish; nevertheless, I am so very proud that you allow the Lord to use you to the point of selflessness. We, the fans, appreciate the commitment you place in every song your release. Thank you for allowing God to use you, keep ministering to us. I will always be inspired to write, because of you. Thanks, you are forever a friend in my head and heart.

over 5 years ago

iv'e been very happy to have been listening to fred since 1991. i remember the maranatha movement and fred was there, i remember the glory to glory days and fred was there, i remember the no weapon days and fred was there, and today fred is still here. praise God for his presence in fred's life. derry

almost 6 years ago

I have been following Fred since I was 4, which was when my dad first brought home the Commissioned record "Im Goin On". From then on, I've been hooked on this man's music!! He is officially the Stevie Wonder of Gospel, meaning absolutely nobody can mimic his sound. He has been such a blessing in MY life. I have been encouraged and even convicted from Fred's ministry. There's so much I want to say about this man, but I know the space is limited. So I'll just end with saying that Fred Hammond is by far the best thats ever happened to gospel music!!

almost 6 years ago

I must still meet a Man of God as a friend would have said your music pulled me through a time in my life when I had no hope and only felt the blows that life was throwing at me that I listen to your album free to worship and I got my life in order and remembered that HE WILL NOT LEAVE ME AND NEVER FORSAKE ME so thanx alot Fred hope to see you in South Africa and meet you personally

about 6 years ago

I enjoy Fred Hammond.He is the Earth, Wind, & Fire of Gospel. He is so refreshing and enlighting.

about 6 years ago

I llllooovvvveeee Fred Hammond! It's as if he sings my heart!! He sings what I feel in my heart towards God and I love him sooooo much! God bless you Fred!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

over 6 years ago

I met my husband in 1997, married and had my first child all in the same year. I didnt know who Fred Hammond was until 1998 when my husband spoke of him and Marvin Sapp. Now I have grown in my own ministry in my praise and worship by listening to their music. I said that to say this. I met Fred Hammond on Thanksgiving Day at WalMart in Cedar Hill of 2010 and at the time I was star struck and took a picture with him and wished him a Happy Thanksgiving! I didn't realize something was wrong until later that evening after I replayed how I met Mr. Hammond. It seemed as if he was not happy or no joy in his heart. Later that night I went on line to see how life was treating him and it said he was recently divorced. I told my Pastor/Husband, Pastor Steven Dinwiddie we need to pray for Fred Hammond tonight at church in the "Why We Are Thankful" program. We did just that and God had his way at New Seasons Ministries in Mesquite, Texas. So Mr.Hammond I pray that you have peace,joy,love,healing and deliverance in your life and may God bless you and keep you!

over 6 years ago

freddie am a nigerian i was obsessed with prodigal son.i played free to worship for a day and wasnt tired

over 6 years ago

Fred, I am not sure if your eyes will ever run across these few lines. But I want to let you know that the body of Christ appreciates you SOOOOO much. We really consider you to be such a man of God. I never met you a day in my life, but I love you with such a godly and affectionate love that if I ever was to see you walking down the street...I would just run up and give you the most sincere and child-like hug. Not because of some shallow and inappropriate obsession but because the God that is in you shines so unmistakebly bright through you. So Please be encouraged and don't let the lies of the enemy sway your walk with God and the ministry that is in you.

over 6 years ago

Mr. Hammond, Sir In regrads to your lonely heart. Man there is a young lady you might be interested in reading about. Check out her out on web site on "BlackPlanent" Look her up under: lou2222ak I tried and failed. I believe her name is Louise. She is to good to be true. It will take a really good man to please this woman. She doesn't care if you have money or not. Because trust me, I have a lot of money. She didn't care. What was important to her. Is what I had on the inside. True love Sorry, I found out she will not do any friends. She is looking for one man only, to give her heart too. Tell me what you think. Good luck my brother. As she writes, "life is too short".

almost 7 years ago

Am 22yrs in East Africa, (Uganda) at Makerere university, i like your songs could you give me some tips of how i can develop my talent also to serve the lord.

about 7 years ago

Hola..mi nombre es Jose soy musico y sirvo a Dios desde los primeros aƱos de mi vida...quiero decir que Fred Hammond es gran hombre de Dios y ese es el precio de EL burcar el rostro de Dios y serle fiel a Dios..Dios te bendiga Fred..!

about 7 years ago

If there was ever a person doing exactly what they we're called to do it is Fred Hammond. Only God can give an man the ability to literally take the scriptures and put them to song. This is what make Fred Hammond undeniable, no matter what the challenge is, it's still destiny.

over 7 years ago

Oh. I must confess Dr fred i give it to you and i pray for God to keep blessing you and the grace to be sufficient for you.your Song (Bread of Life) make my day every day i keep listen to it every and i keep loving it every day

over 7 years ago

I am 20 years old and although my mother hasn't been a christian my whole life....I grew up in the church and listening to Fred Hammond and Commissioned. I love your music. Thank you for laying your heart out in everything that you do. You are a Blessing in so many ways.

over 7 years ago

Fred Hammond is blessed man of God. He has an undeniable swagger in gospel music that everybody loves. He brought a flavor that alot of people are starting to usein gospel music now and I love it. Bro. Hammond keep the faith and keep producing powerful music that changes lives. Peace and Blessings

almost 8 years ago

Fred Hammond has an awesome gift from God. I am so glad that he used it to bless God and HIS people, touching so many lives especially mine. May God continue to bless you and your every effort. Peace.

almost 8 years ago

Thanks Fred, My life will never be the same again!!!

almost 9 years ago

hello minister hammond i'm from england. im in the process of returning to christ being the church all my life i backslide nine years ago but your music has always been a source god bless u sir

about 8 years ago

i really don't know if mr.fred really read these comments wish he did just wanted to let you know my husband andi use to go se you when you was in texas and new orleans m husband is a big fan of your believe it he also sounded like you before he was saved it was earth wind and fire,stevie wonder then the winans commissioned and you and andre crouch the hawkins family kim burell the clark sisters he had a stroke three years ago the enemy tried to take every thing that he looked preaching gods word praise and worship leader played the keyboard his voice is not the same his the stroke effected his left side some brain cell but i play your cd's dvd's all the time to get him back in to it my email is robins_e@bellsouth.net could you please give him some words of encouragment his name is edwin robinson

about 8 years ago

well can never get enough of your minstry man when are you coming to south Africa cant wait to see you there even if am broke

about 8 years ago

fred since i got born again your music or should i say you minsitrie just blesses me .well there is one dream iwant to forfill am a sound engineer and i just want to work with you just in oe show and learn more from you .Becauseyour mix just drives me crazy, at church the bass player and the drumer we play the way you do God Bless you when you come to South no matter am broke or not will come for thes how

over 8 years ago

fred am proud to be a nigerian God thru you made my day and was touched by your ministration "he is here" at this year's xperience. am lookin forward to God to help me build my career there so many talent that are yet untap you guys need to help us out in Nigeria cos its another america and by your confession we are true worshippers we need labels as integrity and others to help gosple music nija as a great market for any investors thnk God am able to tell you this you are a great minister of the Gosple Music want to be like you and even more God helping me. Goodday

over 8 years ago

This was a timely article for me. To hear Fred talk frankly about certain issues has encouraged me to do the same. More than a musician, more than an entertainer or actor he's a Man of God. His last statement clearly depicts what's in his heart, reaching people. Fred keep moving on in His will as His will keeps moving on in you!

over 8 years ago

During the 1980's, I got a hold of one of Commissioned's albums and fell in love with them, especially Fred Hammond's unique vocals. There were songs that helped me through my young adult life during that time. Fred Hammond's album, "I Am Persuaded" came at a very crucial time in my life. Several of the songs gave me the strength and encouragement I needed to perservere. Thank you Fred Hammond!

about 9 years ago

Fred your music saved me from satan i love you for that now i have a paying job a daughter that is 13 and i love her so much she just won't act rigth but shes coming along pretty well. I love your music you're one of my favorite Gospel artist God Bless

about 9 years ago

I AM TRYING TO SEE IF I CAN HAVE BRO. FRED HAMMOND TO COME TO CHICAGO THE FIRST MONDAY IN JUNE TO OPEN UP OUR MUSIC CONVENTION. PLEASE CONTACT ME BY EMAIL ASAP. GOD BLESS.