Fred Hammond
I Will Trust

The incomparable Fred Hammond is back! After a brief hiatus from solo projects, the Grammy Award-winning singer has returned and sounds better than ever. GOSPELflava.com recently spoke with the Stellar and Dove awardee to discuss his new release, life after his double knee surgery and what he has next in the works.

"Just trust in God." These are the words Hammond uses to describe the theme of new project, I Will Trust. Trusting in God was what the "No Weapon" singer said he had to do after undergoing a double knee surgery in January 2014.

"Recovery was the worst part. I had to go to rehab, physical therapy, and just the whole process of learning to walk again. I had to trust in God!" Hammond's pain ignited a writing fervor which resulted in this 12-track project. "I wanted to write. I needed write. It was therapeutic for me" Hammond explained. "I had to write myself out of my pain. And I know other people were hurting (spiritually)" he added.

CD After a grueling 12 weeks of physical therapy, the worship-saturated project is evidence that he spent time with God. Lending songwriting support to Hammond is the Noel Hall, who served as musical director for Hammond and Radical for Christ for many years. "Noel spent four days with me while I was recovering and we just wrote." However, in excruciating pain, the process was lengthier than usual. "Man, I was in so much pain. I had to write for an hour, hour and a half, and then I had to rest," he confessed. "But, we were able to put some good stuff together."

The debut single "I Will Trust" is equally proof-positive of his leaning on God. An emotionally-charged ballad it centers solely on the premise of leaning not on your own understanding but wholly trusting in the Lord (Proverbs 3:5). Also featured on the track is Hammond's daughter BreeAnn. Although she and her brother Darius were highlighted on Free to Worship album, BreeAnn inches more towards the spotlight as she joins her dad on the single and music video. Hammond couldn't be more proud! "She is really coming into her own. Hammond admitted. "She has learned and practiced and getting herself ready to do her thing with her music." So don't be surprised if you hear solo music from that talented Hammond offspring.

As the piano keys twinkle, thunder rolls, drum makes staccato beats, and lion roars then Hammond reads 1 Chronicles 16:8-12, .you can sense you're about to embark on a reverential symphonious journey on "Festival of Praise", the project's opening song. Immediately you get ushered into this praise party of sorts consisting of two guests of honor: rhythm and worship!

Yet on "All the Way" Hammond transports the listener to the islands with a reggae-Caribbean inflection. "I love the Caribbean! Man, I love Jamaica!," Hammond gushed. "I love hearing Jamaicans talk. So I told my drummer I wanted an island vibe on the first part. And what that's' what you hear, me using my Jamaican accent" he added.

Yet Hammond eases up on the praise throttle on "His Perfect Love." The song is an extolling serenade of encouragement regarding God's undying and unhindered devotion towards His children. "Lord Have Your Way" reiterates this theory and informs us that we can rest in the peace when we allow God's plan to be fulfilled in our lives. Translation: Not our will but His will be done. By the close, your hands are lifted, your eyes weeping and heart is filled.

Once you're all "slain in the spirit," Hammond cranks it back up in the high-spirited "I Believe," the RFC 90's sounding "Take Me to the Water," and traditional gospel vibe in "I Owe It All." All three are classic Hammond but peppered with a contemporary gospel soul characteristics.

But let me tell you... Hammond nails "It's Mine!" It is unequivocally Rhythm & Praise; which he does like a champ. The groove is so tight and "in the pocket," you have to come back to your spiritual senses and remember, "Wait a minute, this is gospel music." (LOL) Never one to stay walled in with long-established gospel musical stylings, Hammond walks hard into Christian Contemporary and EDM genres in "Try Jesus" and "You Bless Me Over and Over." Both are diverse but Hammond executes them superbly like the musical maverick he is! "It's Only the Comforter" is a rousing heartrending but matter-of-fact selection. Written by Hammond and Hall, it was a tune that just happened. "As I said thanks for coming (Hall during his 4-day visit) he was playing something on the piano." Becoming intrigued, "I said, keep playing. Then I started singing. And it just happened." Hammond also divulged that he channeled R&B superstar John Legend for the track. "I wanted it to sound like a song I would present to him (John Legend) for an album but one I would keep for myself." End result... exquisite and excellent.

Although Hammond admits he still has to take it easy and is not yet 100 percent after his surgeries, he's not slowing down too much. He just completed the successful Festival of Praise tour with fellow gospel great Donnie McClurkin and is currently on a promotional tour for this release. Additionally, Hammond is focusing his sights on "visual" ventures. "I'm working on some movie stuff right now. Some will be independent and DVD projects. I'm even working on some TV things. A talent type show and a spoof comedy style show." Hammond is a gospel music legend for a reason. This new project is a musical testament to why that is: an extraordinary and exemplary work of worship brought to fruition through pain but resulting in prodigious praise.

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Production: Various
album release date: Nov 18, 2014
RCA Inspirational

— review by John Burton Jr.

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