Music
3:48 am
Thu June 21, 2012

Fred Hammond: A 'Phenomenon' On The Gospel Chart

Originally published on Thu June 21, 2012 6:21 am

"Fred Hammond is a phenomenon," says Danyel Smith, former editor of Billboard magazine, to NPR's Renee Montagne. The singer and bassist's "I Feel Good" has stuck around on Billboard's Gospel Songs chart for more than 30 weeks. Over the summer, Morning Edition will feature songs that are popular among different audiences and genres.

"He makes modern, urban-contemporary gospel music, and he has hit a nail on the head," Smith says. "In the gospel industry right now, there is a concerted effort to not lose young people — to create music that speaks to them and enables them to maybe nod their head to the beat as much as they're clapping their hands and raising their hands to the Lord."

She says that the secret to Hammond's success is his music's immediacy.

"It's very invitational, this record — it sounds familiar to me," says Smith. "It sounds like, 'Hey, just because we're talking about faith, it doesn't mean we all have to start speaking in some other language that we don't speak in every day to each other.' "

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Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Summer is officially upon us, and we want to help get you in the groove by playing some summer jams. We're streaming summer songs of the last 50 years - 1962 through 2012 - at NPRMusic.org. And here on MORNING EDITION, we're going to be sampling some of the music that's doing well on different charts this summer: country, dance, and today, gospel. Fred Hammond's "I Feel Good" has been on top or near the top of the Billboard Gospel charts for more than 30 weeks.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I FEEL GOOD")

FRED HAMMOND: (Singing) Now, it's time to ease your mind. So hear me as I say: life's not always down, you see? Hey.

MONTAGNE: To tell us more about "I Feel Good," we brought in Danyel Smith. She's been the editor of Billboard and also the editor-in-chief of Vibe.

DANYEL SMITH: Fred Hammond is, I mean, he's a phenomenon. He makes modern urban contemporary gospel music, and he has hit a nail in the head. In the gospel music industry right now, there is a concerted effort to not lose young people, to create music that speaks to them and enables them to maybe nod their head to the beat as much as they're clapping their hands and raising their hands to the Lord.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I FEEL GOOD")

HAMMOND: (Singing) My hands go up and I praise Him, you know I'm gonna thank Him, hey. The happiness in my life, today it won't be denied. I feel good, good, good.

SMITH: It's very invitational, this record. It sounds familiar to me. It sounds like, hey, just because we're talking about faith, it doesn't mean we all have to start speaking in some other language that we don't speak in every day to each other.

MONTAGNE: That's music journalist Danyel Smith, talking about Fred Hammond's chart-topper "I Feel Good." Hammond is also headlining a gospel tour right now. And next month, he'll be honored in the Essence Music Festival in New Orleans. All summer on MORNING EDITION, we'll be hearing more music that's topping the charts.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I FEEL GOOD")

HAMMOND: (Singing) The joy I feel on the inside, will show up on the outside. My hands go up and I praise Him, you know I'm gonna thank Him, hey. The happiness in my life, today I won't be denied. I feel good and I know it...

MONTAGNE: This is NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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