Gospel Singer Looks Forward To Virtual Inauguration Day Concert
MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:
Let's talk more about the inauguration now. Even though the festivities are pared back this year, some people are still finding ways to honor the incoming administration.
FRED HAMMOND: I believe that every administration needs prayer and needs help.
MARTIN: That is gospel legend Fred Hammond. He is taking part in the 2021 Inaugural Gospel Celebration: An Evening of Inspiration and Unity. It's being held virtually by the National Baptist Convention. And for Fred Hammond, this year's celebration has special meaning.
HAMMOND: Given the circumstances and everything, that I thought that it was definitely a must that I put my best foot forward to help pray for this whole thing because if ever we needed it, we need it now.
MARTIN: Like a lot of us, Fred Hammond struggled this past year when his livelihood, touring, was completely upended. Then in October, he contracted the coronavirus.
HAMMOND: I had some coughing issues and some respiratory issues for several, several days. But my brothers, they lost taste and smell. But after quarantining for 12 - about 13 days, you know, we kind of got back into the flow of things.
MARTIN: Despite feeling better, the virus still took a devastating toll.
HAMMOND: I've lost now, I think, 25 friends to this virus. And then that's not even the people I know that were sick by it. Now, I've probably known well over 100 - close to 200 that have had it. Some struggled deeply with it, and some were very, very scared, you know, and most of the other ones made it through.
MARTIN: And, he says, the pandemic has shown him some difficult things.
HAMMOND: Down the street from my building, there's a food pantry. And it's always - you know, it's been light over the, you know, past years or so. People would get there about 8:00 in the morning, and there'd be, you know, six or so cars. This time, it was two blocks worth of cars. And they were brand-new cars - you know, 2017, 2019. You know, and that was unusual, you know? And so it just - it taught me that life can turn on a dime.
MARTIN: Despite the challenges he has experienced and witnessed, Fred Hammond sees the inauguration as a fresh start.
HAMMOND: There's still hope. You know, even in the midst of it having to be closed off, I just feel like there is a chance for us to get it right. And that's my prayer, is that this administration can get us on track to get it right. You know, I'm all for people who vote for whoever they want to vote for. But we've seen what can happen when, you know, people don't care. And I believe that this administration cares, and so therefore there's a chance. And no matter what - if nobody's in the mall - on the mall, if there's gates 20 feet high and 20,000 soldiers, our democracy is still going on. You know, that - nothing can really stop it.
MARTIN: And you know we couldn't let him leave without singing a little something.
HAMMOND: What I would like to leave with everybody is (singing) no weapon formed against me shall prosper. It won't work. I know God will do what he said he would do. He will stand by his word. He will come through. No weapon...
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "NO WEAPON")
FRED HAMMOND AND RADICAL FOR CHRIST: (Singing) No weapon formed against me shall prosper.
MARTIN: That was gospel legend Fred Hammond. You can catch him on January 20 on the 2021 Inaugural Gospel Celebration: An Evening of Inspiration and Unity, which is being held virtually this year.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "NO WEAPON")
FRED HAMMOND AND RADICAL FOR CHRIST: (Singing) Shall prosper. It won't work. No weapon formed against me... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.