Commissioned Reunion

Commissioned — Tribute 1
Just Like That!!

Commissioned. How to begin describing a group so deep, so multi-faced and so respected amongst all genres of musicians is overwhelming.

As the group themselves confess, they based their harmony structure very much on the style of their Motown peers, The Clark Sisters. Forsaking the traditional triad approach, they opt for very complex four, five and six-part layered harmony. They’re Take 6 with a band. Truly a self-contained band.

Collection CDThey toiled in the shadow of the more famous Winans. (Interestingly, Fred Hammond begin his career playing bass and singing back up in the early 1980’s for this famous family group.) Yet Commissioned put out a lot more albums than the Winans ever did.

Commissioned also crossed over, and in several different ways. Many outside Black Gospel circles became familiar with the group as the result of an a live concert album that they did with Carman and the Christ Church Cathedral Choir (Shakin’ The House Live), where they sang a version of "Lord Jesus Help Me".

Commissioned’s influence on secular groups has long been trumpeted by fans. Jodeci and the group 112 have both borrowed the vocal riff style of
Commissioned Features
Related Interviews and Reviews
Commissioned Discography
A Musical Analysis of Commissioned
Commissioned Tribute 1
Commissioned Tribute 2
Commissioned Tribute 3
Mitchell Jones and Fred Hammond and incorporated them into their songs. Silk remade the lovely Commissioned ballad "Cry On", which appears on the Damon Wayans' Blankman soundtrack from 1994. Rifling through the credits of most recent R&B male groups will reveal shout outs to Commissioned.

Commissioned was also one of the first major groups to pair up with Gospel rappers, bringing in Transformation Crusade on "King of Glory" from the Number 7 project. They also appeared with Hezekiah Walker and the Love Fellowship Crusade Choir on "I Will Go In Jesus Name" on their Live in Atlanta album.

The group also truly introduced technology (drum programming, sampling), probably before the industry was ready for it. They wrote and produced all their stuff, seemingly from beginning to end, which is a rarity in any part of the music industry.

Membership changes have not fazed the group. Name an R&B group that’s lost not one, but two lead singers that went on to the top of the solo artist ranks (Marvin Sapp, Fred Hammond). Yet the group has stayed in the game. Did Jodeci survive that? The Commodores? Kool & the Gang? Dru Hill?, R Kelly and Public Announcement? The Jackson Five? Wu Tang Klan? Nah. They all went south after the front men left.

Transformtion Crusade CDThe Commissioned style of singing, music and production expertise is, in my opinion, part of the very foundation of today's Gospel music. And to top it, few groups have succeeded as they have in being able to start a song talking about worldly relationships and then skillfully bringing in the hope of a Godly relationship.

The Commissioned Collection album and Number 7 are still in my current rotation. They join Hezekiah's Live in New York, John P. Kee's Strength and The Canton Spirituals Live In Memphis II as albums that have never left my van’s 20-CD case holder.

Commissioned is just like THAT!!!

See Commissioned Discography

— commentary by James Wigington Jr. —

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