Grammy, Stellar and Dove Award-winning gospel great Fred Hammond is coming home to Detroit for the 2018 Festival of Praise tour. This year’s theme, Texture of a Man, marks the festival’s fourth installment. It features an inspiring all new line up of Hammond, Donnie McClurkin, Take 6, James Fortune and Charles Jenkins. The tour is coming to Detroit’s Greater Grace Temple on Friday, May 4, 2018, to help celebrate the 39th anniversary of God’s World superstore.
A family-owned business, God’s World is a Detroit gem that continues to anoint the community. If you’re a part of the Detroit gospel music community, you’ve spent time at God’s World. God’s World has been a blessing to not only Detroit gospel music lovers, but to gospel music enthusiasts throughout the U.S. In addition to hosting events and selling gospel music, God’s World also carries clergy shirts, communion sets, choir and clergy robes and Sunday school books.
Founder Larry Robinson opened God’s World in 1979. Despite his success, Robinson remains humble and focused on the vision the Lord has given him for God’s World.
Congratulations on 39 years of serving Detroit! You are one of few brick-and-mortar music stores that remain open. How have you done it?
We have been blessed through God and through trial and error to expand out. It’s been an exciting ride. We do other things that bring us revenue, for instance, we do gospel skating parties and like this event coming up — we do gospel concerts and we sell tickets to different events, so we’re like a baby Ticketmaster. We have a few streams of income and we don’t have a lot of bills.
How have you stayed relevant for almost 40 years?
Coming in here is an experience. It’s not just coming in to pick up a CD and walk out. You get to ask what’s new, who’s got something else out. You can talk about something that happened five, 10 years ago. It’s a bonding with the customers. History has always shown that whenever there’s a change, those that can’t adapt … they fall by the wayside.
My dream and my vision is to get a bigger, nicer store where it can be more of a hangout, like a Barnes & Noble where you can come, get some coffee, sit down and flip through a book. A getaway spot. I love to encourage people and help people. I guess that’s why God put me through so much.
What are some of the challenges you’ve endured?
I had no training when I came into the business. I learned through trial and error; you don’t forget those mistakes. When I see up and coming entrepreneurs, they can say three things and I can tell ’em where they’re going wrong. You’re trying to skip over part of the process. God shows you the end and then he starts you at the beginning, and you get so excited, you try to skip over two and three, you can’t do that. The more practice you get, the better you get. And the more awareness that comes out, the more people come to help you.
You need someone to coach you and mentor you and encourage you—cause you’re gonna fall—they can tell you what to put on that scrapped knee and how to get that twisted toe back in shape. I find myself in that position, I love being there to help others. I have a passion for it.
Tell us about the Festival of Praise celebration. What made you align it with your 39th anniversary?
You’ve got people who are masters at doing what they do. When they bring the gospel, it’s gon’ be brought heavy, it’s gon’ be brought to the highest level. This is one of the best well put together shows I’ve seen. Don [McClurkin], he has an anointing on him, the moment his touches the mic, the place is going up! Fred [Hammond] will bring you into worship. Take 6 has harmony like you’ve never heard before.
It was one of those things where God brings things to you in pieces. In actuality, we were thinking about doing a 40th anniversary and we still are — that celebration is gonna be three days. I have connections with a lot of people in the industry. The big tour promoters always call me and ask if I wanna buy up Detroit. It just worked out really well, the price was right and the timing was right. I can see God working in it.
How did you come up with the name, “God’s World”?
I’m an only child. I didn’t ever have a father, so my heart always goes out to young men who don’t have fathers. I had a Sunday school class, about 33 years ago. I was making good money. It was about eight or nine young men in my church [who] didn’t have dads. So I said, “I’m gon’ take ’em to Disney World.” While we were down there, as we were walking through these different worlds, Frontier World, China World … they ‘came really really real to me. And that stuck in my heart.
So I got back home and one Saturday morning, I was having breakfast and it hit me: What if you made a theme park or some type of museum or exhibit where they could walk through the Bible? It would be real, like, Universal Studios where you walk through the movie scenes. They could see it, that would be so fantastic and I could call it God’s World, like Disney World.
That’s the first dream that God gave me. The dream of doing a bookstore and selling CDs was a vehicle to help me raise money to build the walk through the Bible. The walk through the Bible was going to be called God’s World, like Disney World. I’m still holding onto that vision, I may have to turn it over to my grandkids.
Visit www.textureofaman.eventbrite.com for more information.