Root Magazine had an esteemed privilege to talk to one of gospel music’s prized possessions, Fred Hammond, regarding new super group, United Tenors, their sound and the genetic makeup of the group. Fred Hammond calls it “A new familiar sound” and with his downloaded sound from heaven, men across the globe are certain to find themselves head bopping and singing every tenor part with ease. Read the complete interview below.
Root: The United Tenors- who are they? Fred: The United Tenors are Dave Hollister, Eric Roberson, Brian Courtney Wilson and Fred Hammond.
Root: What was the key to the selection process?
Fred: A couple of years ago I heard a sound that I felt you know whenever I’m doing something, I’m trying to figure out what’s my next presentation of how I want to tell the world about the Lord. I heard a sound that was very male dominated, it was lute, it was fresh but it felt familiar. I basically downloaded it from heaven into my heart. The first process was to pick the guys from Commissioned, but after eight months to a year of conversation, we just couldn’t make it work. I was okay but I still felt the need to move on. I reached out to Dave Hollister first, because he and I stay in touch so I threw the idea out to him and he loved it and said “Hamm I’m in.” Then he and I went through some other artists we thought might work, and we asked a great soul singer by the name of Eric Roberson to be apart. I didn’t want to pick just four gospel guys. I wanted to pick men with a different edge that I knew had a relationship with God, but still had a different vibe going on and could take us to different platforms. When you say Fred Hammond and Dave Hollister have a group, you get the attention of both the Gospel and R&B community. Before we found out that Brian Courtney Wilson was available, we were only going to be a three- man group. We said okay “Let’s just put it out there and finish it up and bring Brian in”. As friends, we’ve developed a great vibe.
Root: With United Tenors, how have you managed to infuse your sound with the group members’ individual sound, and present this new sound to the world?
Fred: Like I said, I downloaded the sound. (FH begins to speak in tech terms describing the sound God has given him). The hard drive of that sound was already in me. It was something from thirty years ago with Commissioned starting in 1983. That sound was downloaded inside of me then. It was just portioned off for something new to come later. So instead of giving that hard drive away, the Lord just kept it there and did an upgrade. So all I had to do was just be myself. When you hear “I Feel Good”, you hear that type of sound, but that’s from my solo project, so at the end of the day, I had to remember that there are four different voices; however, I knew it would be a familiar sound. I call it a “familiar new sound”, because you have new voices, but it has that oh familiar sound to it. So some people say it feels like Commissioned and others say it feels new; but the reality of it is, God built the blue print inside of me, now He’s just re-opened the blue print back and there’s a couple of new areas with it. Root: It’s been about two decades since you were with the group Commissioned. What made you want to do it again?
Fred: Women have dominated the industry as it relates to singing, for the last 15-20 years and it has been a great sound. If you listen to Kirk Franklin, Fred Hammond, James Fortune, Israel Houghton or any popular song on the radio, it has a female doing the lead and it’s a very precise and beautiful sound. Now I’ve even made it simpler, that when we sing “Here In Our Praise”, no praise leader comes out at the end, we are all singing in unison. The song “Love You Like That” right speaks from a man’s point of view. When we get into the drive where we continuously sing “Hallelujah”, it feels like the vamp from one of CeCe Winans songs but from a male’s perspective. Root: What is the group’s goal/plan to influence the gospel music industry?
Fred: We have a specific goal to minister to the brothers first. A lot of them said that this was a sound that I hadn’t heard in a long time and it motivated them to worship. United Tenors (Fred advises to hold on as he grabs his Bible) is basically taken from Psalms 133:1, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.” Our target with the brothers was to come across with a bold sound. We’re making it easy for men to sing, bop their head and enjoy the music from top to bottom. “I’m Reminded” is one of the songs from the album where men can reflect on God’s love on Calvary. When men start to worship, families can get healed and women will follow. When women follow, children will follow and it becomes a domino effect. So that’s the target audience right now; to get the brothers started first, but it also has something for the sisters too.
Root: I definitely agree that men need a designed outlet to worship.
Fred: A woman will sing what a man sings, but sometimes it’s hard for a man to sing what a woman sings. First, it’s directed different. This is a female driven age where women have a different song and sometimes it’s hard for men to sing a particular song. We can understand it, we can emphasize, and sometimes we can scratch our head to sing about it. It can be a bit of a strange land. Root: Was the group’s naming a collaborative effort or did you have the group’s name in mind prior to formation?
Fred: Uh…. I kind of had it in mind but to be honest with you, the first name was “Urban Tenors.” I was taking it from the Three Tenors because it was only going to be three of us initially. So I was going to name the group Urban Tenors, which would allow us to go into any venue. I was waiting on the full direction but then when the entire group was formed and we all started forming relationships, then the songs were starting to come. So although I felt Urban Tenors sounded slick, I picked purpose over style and we agreed on United Tenors. We even reached out to social media to help us with the group name and Twitter gave us great names but we were already United Tenors.
Root: Will UT be on tour in the near future?
Fred: UT is definitely working on touring and checking out different options. We want to fast track we don’t have time we got to get things going NOW! To reach United Tenors via social media: Twitter: Realfredhammond, social cam: RealFredHammond, IG: RealFredH
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