I recently finished reading Steve Smith’s book, British Black Gospel.
In it he suggests the UK gospel scene had something of a golden age in the 80s: high-grade music, serious mainstream industry interest, and a thriving live circuit.
Things weren’t perfect, but it seems people look back on that time with great fondness.
Now whether that’s because – like most things nostalgic – the rose tinted glasses filter out the hardships, I really don’t know. I wasn’t around the scene in the 80s.
Back To The Future
However, one thing I do know for sure: if I had a choice about what time period to be in the UK gospel scene, it certainly would be right here, right now!
Have a look at the Garage Cypher video below by Uprise
This is the 4th in this series. It highlights a number of things emerging industries need to have to assure long-term survival:
- a continuous flow of new content and creators.
- a true spirit of ‘comrades-in-arms’ship. Even if you aren’t a fan of the genre you can tell this lot appreciate – and support – the creativity of their compatriots.
- an unshakeable belief in the validity of the content on offer.
These guys rhyme about Christianity entirely in the round: fear and faith, trials and victories, hard work and conviction…
And the choice of genre is also significant: this is Grime, a UK-created Hip-Hop derivative…
While there are (and always will be) those uncomfortable with the use of mainstream music trends to preach the gospel (check the comments against this video on YouTube, for example) my opinion is that UK Street Music gospel artists don’t have as hard a time as American Hip-Hop gospel artists seem to.
We Just Do It
What we do with the UK gospel scene shouldn’t revolve around the hope that one day some big corporation will come and rescue us with big-money investment.
We know its worth. If it’s any good it’ll become apparent to everyone else.
In the video, the passion for the faith is palpable, and even sound engineer Mixy (whom – based on what he says in the intro – I’m guessing is not a Christian) felt it.
Credit where it’s due
This visual record stems from the vision and dogged determination of one man: Shabazz L Graham.
A man whose passion for capturing the unwavering drive of the UK gospel underground on video is surpassed only by his love and passion for the gospel.
I love the UK scene. I love the fact that it’s raw and polished. I love the fact that loads of people just get up and do stuff.
These are serious times. Soon the world will know how we do.
I’ve no idea when or how they will (and in a lot of respects it doesn’t even matter), but hey, it’s all good right here, right now.
To all my soldiers: press on.