Podcasts, music and reality TV winners – here’s some good stuff you might have missed in 2017

We’re halfway through 2018 and in this always-on, news-by-the-second age we live in, harking back to anything that took place more than 24 hours ago can almost feel a little weird.

However: the one thing I still hear almost more than anything else when it comes to activity in the UK Gospel scene is how nothing seems to be happening.

I know, right..?

Anyway, what that does mean is that it gives me the perfect excuse for a quick 2017 retrospective: highlighting good stuff that might have either passed you by, or – if you caught it first time around (well done, you) – is still worth revisiting.

Podcasts

The Lift Show is produced and hosted by Roger Moore’s GL360 Media.

The GL brand has been many things over the years (events promotions outfit, magazine, record label), and in every one of those cases the Birmingham-based team has delivered to an impressive standard.

This typically 2-hour podcast covers everything from topical issues (Black superheroes and domestic violence) to rather more provocative fare (‘Why I’ve Stopped Listening to Kirk Franklin’).

Hook up with GL360:

Reality TV – Vade

Sing – Ultimate Acapella was Sky TV’s foray into Saturday night shiny floor entertainment a la X Factor and The Voice.

It followed the standard competition format, its key selling point being that the featured talent were acapella groups of varying stripes: classic, beatbox, contemporary and, of course, Gospel.

What was even better (especially with a genre like acapella) was that there was no place for the acts to hide; whatever talent was (or wasn’t) on offer became very obvious, very quickly.

It was won by Vadé, who by complete coincidence I had seen live in the play Here I Stand, based on the life Martin Luther just a few weeks before.

Their live sound is flawless, so much so that multiple times during the production I found myself checking to make sure they weren’t miming to a soundtrack. They weren’t.

The prize for winning S:UA was a recording contract with Decca Records and ‘Cry your Heart Out’, their debut album for the label was released in December.

Check it out below.

Artists

Joshua Luke Smith

Joshua Luke Smith recently signed to Residence Music, an American label set up to support Christian artists that make music not specifically focused on the Christian marketplace.

But you know how the story goes: almost every overnight success has been years in the making.

He’s a solid artist with an impressive depth and measure to his body of work, a creative whose output is not only weighty but thoroughly considered.

If this is the first time you’re coming across him take your time to enjoy the experience – you’ll be greatly rewarded.

Inder-Paul Sandhu

I was particularly pleased with the emergence of the next artist: we’ve been particularly under-served when it comes to artists of Asian origin in the Gospel scene.

I’ve no doubt there are plenty of good people doing plenty of good work out there, we just don’t get to hear about them.

I’d been aware of Inder-Paul Sandhu for a while but didn’t fully follow up on his incredible work rate and output. The funny thing was every glimpse I caught of what he was about was quality.

He, like Joshua Luke Smith, is one of the most complete artists I’ve come across in a while: fantastically self-aware with a moving back story, and on a journey to share his personal powerful mission of faith.

For my money he should have a much higher profile than he actually does on the scene – and I can’t quite work out why he doesn’t.

Still, the scene’s loss is the mainstream’s gain, as he’s starting to gain decent traction outside of Gospel circles.

If you’re a Hip-Hop fan on the lookout for your favourite new artist, one that knows his old school but brings it with new school flair, excellently held together with compelling stories of real life, living and faith, Inder-Paul should certainly be on your list of people to check out.

Janine Dyer

Janine has been doing her thing for as long as I’ve been doing UKGospel.com. The main difference between the two of us is that she’s barely changed while the march of grey hair continues across my head.

She popped back into the spotlight in 2016 during season 5 of The Voice, and followed that appearance with the GKid-produced ‘Rhythm of Life’ last year.

If you missed it, fix that mistake now.

ZoeGrace

If their YouTube viewing numbers are anything to go by ZoeGrace is arguably one of UK Gospel’s best kept (and biggest) secrets

With a steady video output that offers a combination of obligatory covers of popular hits (their version of Stormzy’s ‘Blinded By Your Grace’ now has 1.5 million YouTube views at the time of writing and their cover of J Moss’ ‘Sweet Jesus’ has 10 million+) running alongside original material, there’s enough here for you to check out, especially if you’ve never heard of these 19 year old twin girls.

ZoeGrace – Sweet Jesus (J Moss cover)

Still Shadey

I met Still Shadey when I was on a panel for one of AStepFWD’s music conferences.

He left a very distinct impression because one thing he categorically promised in our post-session conversation was that I’ll be hearing much more of him.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard that, typically from artists who more often than not totally underestimate the level of work it takes to make that kind of a splash in an industry as fragmented as this.

Needless to say he was good to his word, and when I finally came across his music and catalogue (not to mention his breathtaking work rate) I was (and still am) very impressed.

His ‘Light in the Shade’ release is very strong but my 2017 favourite was ‘Walk with a Bop’

Melvillous

I’m a huge, huge, huge Melvillous fan. The guy just can’t put a foot wrong in my book.

Ever since I came across him on the extremely clever ‘The Check Up’ I’ve been completely enthralled by his stunningly perfect combination of streetwise sounds, wit and disarmingly transparent journey of faith.

I kept returning to his ‘Local’ EP time and again last year (that’s saying something in light of the near-limitless options we all have with access to music these days).

If you’re in the market for best-in-class, best-of-the-best Street music (Gospel or otherwise), put this guy on your ‘must check out’ list.

Industry

Over the decade and a bit I’ve been doing this few things have been as consistent as the complaint from artists regarding the lack of quality support, tools, knowledge and information to help them navigate the music industry.

Ironically it’s also the same reason why the scene is never really short of seminars, conferences and open conversations in any given year.

For my money IAIMA is one of the very best resources to pitch its tent in this space in a decade.

I strongly believe that any artist starting their journey in this digital age has **zero excuse** for not making decent headway on the basics like branding, promotion, marketing and social media (deep knowledge and easy to use tools are only a search engine away).

Having said that: few things beat hearing first hand from people who have walked a path you’re about to embark on share their experiences, and – more importantly – divulge essential tips and pitfalls to avoid for the journey.

That’s where IAIMA comes in. Set up my music industry veterans Loretta Andrews and Bianca Rose, there’s lots to learn here.

So, there you have it, it’s three months late and I had to reduce the number of really good things that I wanted to bring you so I could get this out.

This is only a very small part of the really good things that went on across the UK Gospel scene last year.

And, yes, there’s no doubt some of this activity is hard to find but it’s sometimes worth it to uncover some really good musical gems.

And by way of helping you in your quest to find more great UK Gospel music content here are, in no particular order, a few other places you might want to check out for the good stuff:

Explore More