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VIA: Asbury Park Press

Fred Hammond recognizes the God-given ability he possesses. His soaring vocals, songwriting and production skills have catapulted him to the top of the contemporary gospel community.

“I’ve been blessed and I’m ever so thankful,” Hammond said. “Every day is a gift and I utilize my gifts on a daily basis.”

The charismatic Hammond has been a vital part of the praise-and-worship scene since the early ’80s, when he led an act called Commissioned. A number of notable musicians and producers in both the sacred and secular world worked with Commissioned, which raised the bar in gospel music.

The evangelical group had crossover appeal to burn. It delivered moving soulful music and dramatic concerts that elicited a response from the audience of nearly biblical proportions.

“We changed things,” Hammond admitted, “but I don’t think we got the accolades that we should have received. I remember when I created that sound. I had an argument with my engineer. He put the background singers way in the back just like everybody else did back then. He pushed the lead vocal up over the background and I brought the background up. It sounded great. But I really didn’t create that sound. I took it from the Clark Sisters but I just put a male spin on it and it worked so well for Commissioned.”

Hammond went solo in 1991 and has enjoyed a great deal of success by his lonesome, winning a number of Grammy, Dove and Stellar awards as a performer and producer.

“I’ve been blessed,” Hammond said again.

Part of the reason for Hammond’s success is his willingness to take on a number of different musical styles. Hammond has drawn from funk, rock, disco, jazz and R&B.

“There are so many things to enjoy in life and there are so many things to enjoy in music,” Hammond said. “I like to have fun with it all.”

His latest solo venture, “Love Unstoppable,” which dropped in September, is a rousing, passionate but earnest effort. “I’m just going out there and doing what’s natural,” Hammond said. “All I can say is that I’ve been so blessed and I’m out there spreading the word doing what I love to do.”

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