Local group David Hammond & Chosen Disciples will release CD, DVD Sunday

David Hammond always gets nervous before he performs in front of an audience and he was likely exceptionally so on Jan. 4.

A professional crew with a truckload of equipment was on hand to record his act for both a CD and DVD.

"It was quite an experience, a real buzz. I tell you, it was just a blessing to be a part of it and see how it all works," Hammond said.

He is the leader of the gospel group David Hammond & Chosen Disciples, which last year signed a contract with 4 Winds/Malaco Records in Jackson, Miss., a company that through the years has recorded major artists such as Tyrone Davis and Johnnie Taylor.

Hammond said the contract was earned after finishing second in a competition of 30 musical acts sponsored by Malaco in Jackson and finishing first out of 250 in a similar show sponsored by talent agent Esther Wooten in Hammond, La.

"It is a great opportunity for us and we hope it is something for which people in Columbus and Phenix City can be proud," he said.

Members of his group include Tely Fanning of Harris County, Frank Marshall of Griffin, Ga., Roderick Elder of Newnan, Ga., and Scotty Johnson of LaGrange, Ga. A five-piece band accompanies the singers, whom manager Norbert Sullivan said have been together for about four years.

Hammond said the singers had previously been with other groups.

The recording was done at Macedonia Christian Ministries on Cusseta Road in Columbus, where for eight years Hammond has served as minister of music.

It is the place where on Sunday at 5 p.m. there will be an official CD/DVD release of "Live in Columbus, Ga." The public is invited to hear the group perform. It is free.

Other acts, God's Foundation, Pastor Terrence Lewis & The Crew, Truly Blessed, Revelation and Community Male Chorus, will be on hand.

Hammond said the CD/DVD features 14 songs written by members of the group. Sullivan said the top single is "Keep Praying."

Hammond mentioned a song "Anchored" he believes will be popular. "We wanted the CD to have that live feel," he said.

Hammond, 44, lives in Phenix City where he was raised in the Riverview Apartments. He attended Central High School but graduated from Russell County High. He played the drums in both bands.

Except for four years spent in Macon, he has always lived in this area.

He and wife Tabatha have three sons.

Music has always been a part of Hammond's life. His father, Cary Hammond, was an original member of The Gospel Kings, a well-known musical act that traveled far and wide.

"I watched as they rehearsed in the living room," Hammond said.

On occasion, he took a seat at the drums and played.

"I remember the group getting in a blue and white van to go do a show. A dream came true when I got to ride in that van."

He said his father, who worked for Golden Foundry, has been his inspiration and is still his favorite singer.

"He is my biggest supporter and my biggest critic," Hammond said.

Hammond said music has always been his passion.

"As a little boy I used to sit outside banging on pots and pans as if they were drums," he said. "When I was five, I was given a Mickey Mouse guitar. I loved that."

But music has not been enough to pay his bills. He said he has managed a pawn shop and had done collection work. He is co-owner of Unique Limousine Service in Columbus. "I have always been in retail," he said.

Through the years, Hammond has filled in with different musical acts as a singer, drummer and keyboard player.

"As a young man, I did country, I have played R&B. Really, a little bit of everything. For a long time, I didn't have a focus."

He does now. It is gospel. He considers the group's performances a ministry.

"Before, I just wanted to play music but it is much more fulfilling knowing what you are doing with the music," Hammond said. "None of the other kinds of music are as satisfying. Gospel is my passion."