Fred Hammond – Pioneer of Contemporary Gospel Music

Fred Hammond

Fred Hammond is a Grammy Award winning contemporary gospel artist from Detroit, Michigan, known for using R&B, hip-hop, and disco styles in his music. For over 35 years, Hammond has been known as pioneer in the gospel music industry for his creation of Urban Praise and Worship. Ultimately, Fred Hammond’s contributions to Urban Praise and Worship music set the foundation for contemporary gospel music and Urban Praise and Worship to flourish today. 

Fred Hammond first received recognition for playing bass guitar for The Winans. Then in 1982, Hammond founded the group Commissioned along with Mitchell Jones, Keith Staten, Karl Reid, Michael Brooks, and Michael Williams. Eventually, Hammond left Commissioned to pursue a career with the Radical for Christ Choir but returned to record a reunion album in 2002. With the Radical for Christ choir, Hammond achieved a great deal of success for where he released the albums, “The Inner Court,” “The Spirit of David,” “Passages of Life – Chapters I & II,” and “Purpose by Design.” On these albums Hammond made a new name for Urban Praise and Worship by encouraging the parallels between R&B and traditional gospel music to be combined in a new style. Since the beginning of Fred Hammond’s solo work in 1991, his output won Dove and Stellar Awards.

Fred Hammond and Radical for Christ - 2001

Fred Hammond dominated the gospel industry because of his new sound that was appealing to gospel worshipers for its progressiveness. His gospel music spoke to the musical current trends of the beginning of the twenty-first century paired with engaging concerts that attracted worshipers far and wide. During the 2000’s-2010’s, Hammond’s music was the most popular on the gospel charts. He also released “Free to Worship,” (2006) “God, Love, and Romance,” (2012) and other titles that topped the Billboard’s gospel chart. Hammond’s music was and continues to be popular because it combines the foundations of traditional gospel music, like call and response, with upbeat musical styles that engage audiences in worship. Hammond’s work has a Hip-Hop/R&B feeling that makes it most attractive to younger people around 20-35. 

Fred Hammond’s music amassed a young audience that has continued to be loyal to his music for the duration of his career. He created a new spin on gospel music that reignited a fire in young believers, making Christianity “cool” and desirable. Although Hammond’s music was very attractive to younger listeners, it was also appealing to older gospel music audiences because of his music’s foundation in traditional gospel music. However, Hammond’s attraction to the younger audience has been pivotal for other contemporary gospel artists. Without Fred Hammond, contemporary gospel music would not be as popular as it is now, nor would it have as much recognition. Arguably, artists like Take Six were also making music like this during time, but did not achieve the same level of popularity as Fred Hammond. He garnered a new audience for contemporary gospel music specifically rooted in Urban Praise and Worship for other like artist to thrive off of. Artists like Kirk Franklin and Ty Tribbett benefitted from Hammond’s work in the contemporary gospel industry because it gave them a platform for their music to be heard. 

Fred Hammond continues to make music today but has also found his niche as a producer and actor through his Face to Face Inc. and FHammond music label.  However, Hammond still continues to be most known for his musical career, being awarded and nominated for Grammy’s, NAACP Image, BET, Stellar, Dove, and GMWA Excellence awards. You can check out his latest single “Alright” on all streaming platforms.

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