Fred Hammond – Free to worship (DVD)


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The big-time sound of Fred Hammond, described here as “the architect of urban praise and worship,” echoes the influence of a variety of old skool pop-R&B stars: Stevie Wonder, Luther Vandross, Earth, Wind and Fire, Kool and the Gang, even Steely Dan. But the fact that Hammond’s music is derivative (whose isn’t?) detracts not at all from this exemplary contemporary gospel concert by the Dallas-based singer-musician. Hammond, who played bass for the Winans and was a founding member of the popular group Commissioned, fronts a large ensemble in the 97-minute show, joined by the enraptured congregation at the Potter’s House, his Dallas church. This is not your grandfather’s gospel music; the funky, slapping bass and hard rock guitar, the lyrics projected on a screen behind the stage, and the slick video production (featuring various film effects and the kind of kinetic editing used for pop concert productions) would likely bewilder fans of pioneers like the Rev. James Cleveland; so would Hammond’s references to “old school jams” and hip language like “I know it might be hard to get your praise on.” Shoot, there’s even an American Idol element, as past winner Ruben Studdard (“He’s looking sugar sharp,” says Fred) joins the crew for a couple of numbers. But there’s one element common to all good gospel, and that’s kind of relentless energy and uplifting spirit that would get an atheist excited. Put simply, songs like “L.O.U.D.,” “This is the Day,” and many others among the 15 presented here rock. In the end, getting your praise on isn’t so tough after all. –Sam Graham

DVD Tracklisting
1. Praise Belongs to You
2. My Heart is for You
3. He’ll Do It
5. Not Just What You Say/Loved On Me Medley
6. Lord Your Grace
7. This is the Day
8. Radical Memories
9. Closer Walk
10. Every Time I Think
11. More of You
12. Simply Put 1
3. No Greater Love
14. Keep Praisin’ God
15. He Lives


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Fred Hammond – Free to worship (DVD)