by Sheilah Belle
New York, New York — Almost four years ago, Fred Hammond declared that he was going to do a love album “before he leaves this earth.” Truly a man of his word, Hammond has done just that with his new project GOD, LOVE & ROMANCE. Set for release January 31, 2012, the 2-CD set is a novel approach for a Gospel artist but it is a natural progression for Hammond, who is a Gospel music pioneer with a career that spans more than 20 years.
The first single, “I Feel Good,” (click à to “I Feel Good” listen) has gotten an early and favorable response at radio and is already #15 on the Gospel charts after a few short weeks. The breezy jam is an immediate uplifter. “I Feel Good is a declaration that I’ve had a couple of people that have walked away from me and ambushed me in business,” Hammond says. “I’ve had some people who have done some really shady stuff towards me but I feel good! I’m coming out of this and I declare that I’m taking a break from drama.”
Hammond co-founded the group Commissioned that infused a soulful, R&B sound into Gospel music in the 80s. Then, in the `90s, he ushered in the urban praise and worship music movement with his Radical For Christ ensemble – paving the way for artists such as Kirk Franklin, Israel Houghton and Tye Tribbett. Hammond continues to break new ground with GOD, LOVE & ROMANCE. One disc boasts powerful new Gospel songs, while the other disc is a suite of love songs touching on the topics of courtship, romance and even the erosion of a love affair. “This is the soundtrack to my personal love life; these are my heart songs” Hammond says. “I sing my worship and I sing the Gospel, but there was something just pulling at me and I wanted to make sure it wasn’t just me wanting to do something to just do something. These songs have a purpose and a meaning, particularly for the church.” Hammond feels that church leadership doesn’t adequately address issues between couples, and that the lack of intervention is leading to divorces. “We don’t talk real in Gospel,” he adds. “We pray, we give in the offering, we tithe, we do fasts, and we have Bible class. Our relationships (in the church) should be the strongest, but 50% of all first time marriages in the church end in divorce and I’m a statistic of that…I believe the thread is that we don’t talk about what’s real.”
The “love and romance” disc gets real indeed. With a classic Urban AC feel, it features endearing love songs such as “I’m In Love With You,” “You Are My Love Come True” and “When I Come Home To You.” The tough issues of romance are reflected in songs such as “What Can I Say, What Can I Do?” – which asks for a chance to prove a couple can be more than just friends – and “One More Try,” representing a last ditch effort to save a relationship.
The praise and worship disc finds Fred Hammond at his anointed best, delivering sincere ballads such as “Amazing Love” and “Love Song to the Lamb.” He also continues his radical approach to praise music with up-tempo jams like “Better Love” and “I Will Lift You Up.” A special treat is his revamped rock-edged rendition of his 2004 smash “Celebrate (He Lives)”.
GOD, LOVE & ROMANCE will be available in stores January 31, 2012