Encore: Can you talk about what you went through in having operations on both of your knees and how it affected your music ministry?
Fred: For a long time I was going to do one knee, when I realized I had to get both done it was around December. A lot of people were telling me how rough it was going to be with one knee, so I just had to prepare my mind for two knees, but nothing can really prepare you for it. I had a lot of people in my corner, it was a very rough experience and I’m glad that I went through it. I definitely have a testimony that you have to go through a dark place to understand what people are going through and I wanted to start the album I’m working on in the heat of the pain. So, I got my crew together and that’s what we did, I wrote from a painful place where people live.
Encore: Can you tell us about how you and Donnie McClurkin came together for the Festival of Praise Tour?
Fred: Donnie and I have been friends for a long time, probably 20 years or so. I was able to take him on a tour I did years ago, but we haven’t worked together in a while. It’s good for us to come together, have a time of fellowship and praise & worship. I wanted to do something with a festive atmosphere. The new people like Tye Tribbett and James Fortune are doing a great job, but you still got to have somebody hold it down for the old folk.
Encore: The recording industry has changed so much over the years, any advice for aspiring recording artists?
Fred: There’s so many artists that have access to recording, when we were coming out you had to have a record deal because nobody could afford studio time back in the day. You couldn’t afford for a record company to come in and pay for the studio time and there was no such thing as making a quality recording. Now people make great records in their basement, but the thing about it is there’s so many people doing it. So I would just tell people just go for it. There’s social media, use your skills to get your music out there, but be a minister first. When God sees your heart, he’ll elevate you.
Encore: You are regarded as a legend in the industry, who are some of the legends you looked up to?
Fred: I watched a lot of the greats like Andraé Crouch and even though I didn’t get a chance to talk to them, God would allow me to just be in the room with the Hawkins family. Thomas Whitfield had a great influence on me musically, he would allow me to come into the studio and I would turn a garbage can upside down and sit in the corner and not make a sound, so that I could witness how this man talked when he was recording. He was a genius. The Winans had a great profound effect on me, I was able to play bass for them. I never asked them to sing or I never put myself in a position to sing with them, but because I stayed and I walked my way through it, God elevated me. My mother was a great musician, although she never wanted to be a recording artist, she was a great singer and pianist. She could take a raggedy choir and make them great. These are the people that had a huge impact in my career and a profound effect on my musicianship.
Encore: You are known as a great bassist, does it seem today’s musician concentrates too much on fancy tricks and runs?
Fred: I think it’s natural that young musicians are going to learn the tricks and the trills, first because that’s just what excites us the most. We want to learn the fanciest thing and then over time we learn the foundational things, but foundation is truly important. Keep your ears open, if someone is coming up to you telling you how to do something better be receptive to them. I would encourage musicians to listen to people who did it beforehand, listen to what’s working and what people are buying.
Encore: Tell us about your new single “I Will Trust”? Fred: It’s based off of what I just came through when the enemy was telling me, I was done. He was saying, “I’m going get you like I got your father, you’re never going to walk straight again.” The whole album should be out when the tour is over some time in November.