It takes only a few minutes of being in his company to notice that he is almost always humming. After nearly 40 years in the music business, making melodies is as natural as breathing for Beres Hammond.
As he gets ready to release his latest album – Never Ending – The Sunday Gleaner got an all-access look into the life of the man whose music has been the soundtrack of many make-ups, break-ups, flings, and romances.
Reclined in his huge, comfy sofa at his St Andrew residence, Hammond told The Sunday Gleaner that he was doing what he was meant to do: “sing and make people happy.”
Forty years in, the thrill is still there. “You never get tired of that. Of course, when you have five to six shows behind each other, and you have to string up every night like Stone Love (laughs), it begins to feel like work, but yeah, man, I still love it and have the same kind of passion like when I started.”
Hammond lists Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, and our own Alton Ellis among those who inspired him to get into music. “It’s the soul in their voices. When you hear it, you see real stories. They make you believe. You listen to the voice, and it tells you how beautiful this world is, so you want to be a part of it.”
Though he is quick to talk about his favourite artistes, it becomes harder to choose a favourite when it comes to his own songs, which he looks at like his children. “I call the songs my children, and I love them. I don’t have a favourite. Every one of them is a part of my life. No two are the same, and each tells a story.”
He said that songwriting comes naturally for him. “I get inspiration from life itself.” He reclined deeper in his chair as if settling in his thoughts as he said: “Once you are a singer, and you have achieved some level of success, never isolate yourself. Always try to be a part of the people. That’s the only way the thing is going to naturally flow. Get out there with people, feel their vibrations. Some people will say something, and it sounds nice, and when you are around people, you pick up on little aspects of their lives, the good and the bad, and that’s a recipe for a song.”
But before he became a hitmaker, it was his older sister, Donna (who passed away last year), who first took note of his talent. “She thought I had this talent,” he revealed. “Looking back at it it, it was fun still,” he said, recalling the days when she would take him wherever there was a crowd to perform.
Fans like family
Today, the crowds find him. “I give thanks for them all (fans). I call them family because only family treat people like that. I give thanks for the support. All I ever want is a handful of ‘family’ to embrace what I do.”
Hammond said that he often performs in countries where the people don’t speak English, but they know his songs. He said it gives him great joy when he’s up on stage and sees the people enjoying themselves and singing his songs.
“When you see people have fun, you have fun too. It bounces off of them on to me. I’m just happy they are my family.”
Hammond said that his performances flow organically. He needs very little preparation before a show. “I feel a little nervous five minutes before, but as soon as they call my name, something just explodes inside of you because I know it’s my time to work, you are called to duty. I say a little prayer before just to give me my voice and take care of me.”
Though no major tour is planned for the new album, he has no plans to stop making music anytime soon. “It’s an inborn concept. I can’t stop.”
The Beres Hammond thousands see performing on stage is the same man he is at home, according to his youngest son, Rasheed (one of his six children), who was present during the interview. “It’s hard separating the superstar from dad, the same person I call father, because he’s so genuine, very warm, humble, and receiving.”