Category Archives: Misc.

Exactly what it says: miscellaneous stuff.

When “Christian Artist” Doesn’t Mean “Gospel”

Today’s guest post is from Jendella Benson, a photographer, filmmaker and writer, as well as member of the UKGospel Team who you may have heard previously on one of the UKGospel podcasts.

In this post she writes about finding her place as a Christian artist in a secular world.


 Cross_Image

If there is any part of the Christian life that is a dense grey area of debate and contention, it is how Christian artists should respond to the fact that they are Christian and creative.

When it comes to the realm of “the gospel” and “music” and “gospel music” in particular, a lot of people have a lot to say about it and I know many young Christian creatives who have been burdened by this expectation.

Back when I went by the name ‘Jeni Diamondz’ (I promise you, I was good!)

I was once a young idealistic Christian music artist, with zeal oozing from my pores and a world that seemed quite easily black and white.

Almost everything that I wrote was fiercely evangelistic, grime and hip hop were my pulpits and each eight bars was a Bible-thumping testament to my zealous faith.

I don’t despise those days at all as they played a big part in making me who I am today, but when life got a bit more complex and grey began to smudge the boundaries that seemed so obvious before, I found myself disillusioned with my faith and falling back bit by bit until the mic was firmly attached the stand and I was no where to be seen on stage.

I can’t even count the number of my friends who this happened to, let alone the number of young enthusiastic Christian artists in general, and it was only a year after graduating from my visual arts degree that I finally felt like I understood the intersection of my faith and my art.

Out of the Abundance of My Heart My Mouth Speaks

It was a couple years early, but I was in the depths of a quarter-life crisis. What was I going to do with my degree in design and photography? What course of action should I take?

After interning with both a photography charity and a commercial photographer’s studio I could clearly see where the money was – advertising and fashion – but I was conflicted about working within an industry that at times felt very shallow and like it contributed to a lot more of society’s problems than it solved.

As a Christian I knew that I had to do something meaningful with my life, something that would leave an impact of Grace and Love upon my world, but becoming a missionary or pastor was definitely not the answer.

After months of soul-searching the answer came to me, and not in a flash of inspiration but through a drip feed of realisations. I won’t bore you with the lengthy narratives and internal monologues, but here is the quick equation:

Christian Living = Dying To “The Flesh” = (Living) Sacrifice = (Active) Service

Now the thing about service is that we can’t all be serving in the same area, because that would be pointless and frustrating. Imagine going to a restaurant and all the waiters and waitresses are all serving the same five tables in one small section while the rest of the restaurant goes ignored – ridiculous, right?.

We already know that as a body we all fulfil different roles and functions (1 Corinthians 12) so when it comes to our service (or “ministry”, if you prefer the term…) surely this is obviously the case as well?

While some may find their place of service in writing amazing worship songs to be sung in churches up and down the country, others may find their role delivering music in a more secular arena, for example. There’s nothing wrong with either approach as long as you’re in your lane and your heart is right.

A couple weeks ago presenting a film at my first solo exhibition.

For me as a (now visual) artist, dying to my flesh meant rejecting the easy cop outs (staying inside the Christian community) or the draw of money (ADV£RTI$$$ING!) and running with the social justice orientated project on young mothers that had been weighing on my soul for years.

I picked it up and ran with it and every scary decision that has come with it.

“How can such a project be Christian, or be seen as preaching the gospel?” Well, arguably it can’t and isn’t.

But Christianity is not a list of brand regulations that need to be adhered to. It is a life of faith that seeps into everything we do because it is a life lived, not a logo to be stamped.

And by that fact alone the values of the gospel, such as empathy with those who are rejected or marginalised, compassionate justice in place of wrathful judgement and everything else we know to be true, are displayed authentically in whatever industry/scene/sphere we find ourselves in, and the creative industry needs it as much as any other.

“Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.” – Cesar A. Cruz


Jendella has been working on the Young Motherhood project for the past nine months. You can find out more about it here and here.

Top Apps to Keep You Creative on the Move (Part 1)

Spinning Plates

Like most people, I have to keep lots of plates spinning in the air at any given time.

Keeping track of – and managing – important tasks can be a major challenge.

By way of illustration: on weekday mornings I present a breakfast radio show between 7 and 9 am, and straight afterwards head off to the day job in a completely different organisation.

Demands

Aside from that are the demands of what I consider to be one my primary passions in life: writing, editing and publishing articles (as well as recording and mixing audio) for UKGospel.com, working (primarily virtually) with a bunch of great creatives.

Then – as if that wasn’t enough – there are the infrequent, though no less demanding requirements of some of the other UKGospel.com platforms: updating Facebook pages and Twitter feeds, running UKGShop.com, and blogging (how would you be reading this otherwise?) 🙂

Continue reading Top Apps to Keep You Creative on the Move (Part 1)

Karl Nova announces ‘More Than Just Music’

Let’s get the most obvious bits out of the way: there’s no hiding the fact that ‘more than music’ is one of those phrases that’s so overused it’s well beyond being a grey old cliché...

Having said that, I feel Karl Nova is probably one of the few people who actually takes the phrase seriously enough to have it fully drive his entire raison d’être as an artist.

‘More Than Music’ is out shortly, and he’s put out an accompanying mini-documentary, the first of a few videos you’ll see from him before the year is out…

EXPLORE MORE

Karl Nova

If you’re going to cover a song, *this* is the way to do it….

So, anyone who knows anything about the UK scene knows Labrinth is a genius.

Let The Sun Shine‘ is a fantastic song.

However, take a leaf out of the ACM Gospel Choir‘s book.  If you’re going to cover such a strong song, you have to enhance it.

Choir master Mark De-Lisser‘s vocal arrangement, layering and harmonic instincts are amazing:

Simples

So, my BIG ANNOUNCEMENT is…

Thanks to Dayo from Quadosh for the GREAT picture.

If you’re my friend on Facebook or following me on Twitter, then you know I’ve been dropping these rather unsubtle hints about my BIG Announcement for the past few weeks.

Well, here it is:

Starting tomorrow, 1st February 2010, I’ll be co- presenting a new radio show on a new radio station in London!

All those cryptic messages about ‘going off to training’, ‘waking up early’ and ‘being extremely nervous’ all boil down to this: Continue reading So, my BIG ANNOUNCEMENT is…

News: Ryan Carty on GospelFlava.com

Ryan Carty Black & White pic

Ryan Carty‘s excellent debut album ‘Journey to Purpose‘ has impressed the influential US GospelFlava.com website.

Reviewer Donna Marshall was not only impressed with lead track ‘Gratitude‘ but also singled out ‘Words Cannot Explain‘, ‘Won’t Quit‘ and ‘Lord Revive me

The album still remains one of the strongest releases to come out of the UK gospel Soul/RnB scene in recent years.

Follow the links

News: Fantastic News Update – 7 September 2009!

UKG logo

OK, I’ve spent most of last week devoting a lot of time to making sure I pushed my Uncle Simply Andy‘s event The Adventures of Simply Andy (which – seeing as you ask – was amazing)!!

But that means that I now have a lot of news that I have to catch up on.

So this week, stand by for loads of updates coming through UKGospel.com, the UKGospel Blog and UKGShop.com: Continue reading News: Fantastic News Update – 7 September 2009!

News: Remember, remember: Simply Andy on 5th September

Following on from Michaela‘s excellent launch (I’m sooo gutted I couldn’t attend.  Apparently it was fantastic)

Adventures of Simply Andy flyerSimply Andy’s one man show, The Adventures of Simply Andy takes place this weekend (5th September).

Andy is another one of our very best: producer, arranger, presenter, songwriter, vocalist and a very funny stand-up comedian.

He’s always in demand, and if you’ve ever tried to get a hold of him in a hurry, you’ll know how busy he is.  He won’t thank me for saying that, but it’s true.

Anyway I think the guy is an amazing talent, and I’m devoting this week to making sure as many people as possible know about this event.

So first off here are some videos for you to see promoting his gig.

Once you see the effort and thought that’s gone into making them, you’ll realise how good Saturday is going to be.  Besides, there’s Four Kornerz (absolutely brilliant live) and Rachel Kerr (amaaaaazing vocalist)

If you still need convincing (I feel sorry for you if you do):  Watch the videos below: Continue reading News: Remember, remember: Simply Andy on 5th September

News: Book on British Black Gospel: crash and burn – or eagles’ wings…?

British Black Gospel Cover Just took delivery of this book ‘British Black Gospel‘ a few of days ago.

It’s written by Steve Alexander Smith, a guy I know is majorly into his UK gospel history with a passion – and then some.

At first glance (I haven’t read all the way through it yet) the book traces the history of British gospel music and its impact on social, demographic and even parts of popular UK culture, taking in the history from the late 1800s to contemporary times.

It’s subtitled ‘The foundations of this vibrant UK sound’, so – quite naturally – it focuses more on events of the past in the runup to our contemporary times, with extensively researched and presented information, anecdotes and images.

This is history that is significant and hugely wide-ranging, taking in elements of American Historical events, slavery, the Caribbean Windrush generation and the emergence of the African influence.

It’s really good to see someone try to put those potentially disparate strands together in one volume.  I don’t feel sufficiently qualified to comment on how well Steve achieved that, but I find it a hugely welcome addition to charting the history of the UK gospel scene.

Crash and Burn

As you’ll no doubt have noticed by now I feel this book deserves more than my usual brief news blog entry.

I desperately hope it gets the attention and support it deserves from the demographic that inspired it, in addition to it becoming a useful guide for anyone else interested in the scene and its rich history…

But I fear it might crash and burn within the Black Christian community.

Let me explain. Continue reading News: Book on British Black Gospel: crash and burn – or eagles’ wings…?