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Fred Hammond didn’t start the gospel group Commissioned nearly three decades ago to change the world, but its success made him a pioneering force in contemporary gospel.

When he left Commissioned to form Radical For Christ, he believed with all his heart that the worship music he was helping to innovate could change lives. Hammond subsequently led the charge in developing the praise & worship music genre within traditional gospel music.

Now, the GRAMMY, Stellar and Dove Award-winner is once again feeling the fire inside of him that served to change the face of gospel. While he’s still not out to change the world, he’s hopeful about setting gospel on a new course.

“I dare not get arrogant enough to think this is going to do the same thing,” Hammond says of the deal he signed with Universal Records for his new label, fHammond Family Entertainment, “but I am going to work with the passion and knowledge I have, put it out there, and hope that it does the same thing or better.”

The first project on Universal, Life In the Word, is a compilation he’s calling a “praise and worship devotional,” released July 27.

“It’s songs I’ve written throughout the years that many people have not heard and I’ve allowed new singers to sing them. In between most of the songs comes a narrative scripture [that introduces the next song]. Some of them are very dramatic, some of them are solemn and some of them are comedic.”

Stylistically, the project has Hammond stepping away from the microphone and into the role of mentor and producer, guiding a fresh ensemble of young artists (with the exception of former Men of Standard lead vocalist Lowell Pye) as they sing songs inspired by scripture. (Pye is featured on the first single, “You Do Great Things.”)

Other highlights include the celebratory “Walkin’ In Victory” (also featuring Pye), the classic devotional “Dwelling Place,” the mid-tempo track, “Life In The Word” and the moving ballad “Home Inside My Praise.”

“People are thirsty for music that tackles everyday issues in their lives and they want it delivered in a way that speaks to them,” Hammond says. “This [album] is a prayer and worship devotional. You can put it in and you’re going to get the word and you’ll get it in a way that you can just let your mind relax and it just kind of ministers to you.”

Given declining sales in the music industry due to the economic climate, Hammond believes artists have become all the more creative in regard to keeping their products in front of consumers.

“I’ve known my audience for a long time, so I understand what they want,” he shares.