What made things particularly ironic was he was such a nice guy.
Colin was sales manager in a company I worked for in the 90s, and back then (I don’t imagine it’s any different now) sales was hard.
Put it this way: if sales were a girl she’d be the little one from the nursery rhyme: when she was good, she was very, very good, but when she was bad, she was horrid.
Which brings me to Black Lives in Music (and, yes, you’d be quite right to ask what any of this has to do with BLiM).
To answer that question, I need to give you a bit of background for context. Here’s a quote from their website’s ‘About’ section:
‘Talent is distributed evenly, opportunities are not!
Black Lives in Music addresses the current inequality of opportunity for black people aspiring to be artists or professionals in the Jazz and Classical music industry…
Representation matters, we need to take action together and create a level playing field for everyone to have an equal chance to succeed…’
While this extract flags people working in Jazz and Classical, make no mistake: this affects every Black person working in music in the UK.
UK Gospel: Sheltered
Where you pitch your tent on this will be directly influenced by your experience and relationships in the UK music space.
I think we’re relatively sheltered in the UK Gospel music scene – because we’ve had to bootstrap our way to any successes we’ve found over the years. (Caveat: I admit this is a broad generalisation and I’m sure it’ll be challenged by many).
As a result we have an hyper-insular and comparatively self-sustaining marketplace (such as it is).
However, that isn’t to say that there aren’t uncomfortable, inconvenient, awkward, monolithic, elephant-in-the-room questions that need asking, like:
How come there aren’t any Black-owned major media organisations in the UK Gospel space?
Why aren’t our biggest radio and TV stations in Black hands..?
Like I said: awkward.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not suggesting there’s anything untoward or underhand going on.
The underlying structural and socioeconomic issues that brought us here are complex, and the easy draw of the racism card is the least nuanced, least intelligent answer to the question.
What gets measured…
What it does do is bring us nicely back to Black Lives in Music. And funny enough: Colin.
One of the reasons people didn’t like him was because he had this saying: ‘what gets measured gets done’.
When mid-month numbers started showing our month-end sales target was fast becoming a myth, he began by asking what everyone’s current priorities were.
And that was uncomfortable.
Well, we were all bonafide experts in our relevant spheres and could fully justify whatever projects we were working on. And typically those justifications would be sound.
However, the fact still remained that we were adrift of our team target
And if we didn’t hit it, the company didn’t make money
And if the company didn’t make money, we didn’t get paid, talk less of earning any bonuses
So: nobody liked Colin‘s essentially neutral, spotlight questions:
What are you working on?
Does it directly help us hit our target this month?
They were annoying, self-evident truths that required we temporarily park whatever priorities negatively impacted the bottom line, no matter how much fun or interest we might have had in them.
Allegory and parable
Don’t read too much into this story: I’m not telling it as an allegory for Black music in the UK.
It’s not even a parable with hidden meanings to be deciphered by the favoured few
What I want you to take away is this: what gets measured gets done
You need to *do something*
And that’s what Black Lives in Music is trying to do: start with a qualitative and quantitative baseline – a measurable catalyst for proper and lasting change, if you will.
This is about your story: hard data that reflects the reality of our shared, lived experiences in Black music here in the UK
You can argue with anecdotes, but it’s virtually impossible to ignore evidence that data provides
‘You can argue with anecdotes, but it’s virtually impossible to ignore evidence that data provides..’
To quote Colin:
What gets measured gets done
So if any of this has inspired you in some way to be part of creating a compelling narrative that will genuinely and empirically shape the future of the lived professional music experience in the UK, you need to *do something*.
Tell your story by taking the Black Lives in Music survey (link below)
Do it now
Get your Black life in Music
I’ve done it, and it doesn’t take that long to complete at all
There are only 4 days left (I’ve been meaning to write this for weeks)
One of the most exciting things about this season in the UK Gospel music industry: invaluable, *expert* knowledge is available to ANYONE, quite literally on tap.
Here’s a fantastic example for you this weekend
@Adegail has been running these brilliant knowledge sharing sessions (that EVERYONE can benefit from) for a while!
This one is a MUST if you need essential information on:
✅ – Planning music releases ✅ – Organising music admin ✅ – Guidance on how best to use visuals/music videos, collaborations and Spotify playlisting for greater reach ✅ – Guidance on complex royalties/correct metadata registration ✅ – Reaching the right audience who will love your type of music
Pop by @_iradiate this weekend at #iRADIATESMS – the lineup is brilliant (PLUS: these guys KNOW what they’re talking about!! 🙌)
This series is part of the content migration programme from earlier versions of UKGospel.com, ensuring the history and evolution of the UK Gospel music scene is recorded and publicly accessible
Original publication date: 26 June 2005
Written and edited by: Yinka Awojobi
I realised recently that UKGospel.com hadn’t done a decent piece on any UK choir in an age. It wasn’t a deliberate thing, but we were leaning quite heavily towards the ‘Urban’ side of things.
Nothing wrong with that, but there’s more to the United Kingdom than Hip-hop, RnB, Soul and such.
Our legacy has been built on the arrangements, focus and discipline of the corporate vocal genre, and Kingdom Choir is one of those groups that best illustrates the fact that while the Urban genre continues to grow solidly, the choir tradition is still pretty much a thriving format.
I fired off a few questions at founder Karen Gibson (centre in photo) to talk packaging, the choral genre and BMC (Black Majority Churches) involvement in the Christian and wider mainstream…
KINGDOM CHOIR HAS BEEN AROUND FOR QUITE A BIT, EVEN THOUGH THE NAME MIGHT BE UNFAMILIAR TO MANY. WHAT’S THE BACKGROUND…?
We first started singing as a group on a radio programme called ‘The Gospel Train‘ (most of us had sung together before this in the London-wide COGOP (Church Of God Of Prophesy) choir called The District Choir).
We would either sing with the programme’s host choir of the week, or we would be the sole host choir.
One day we were asked to sing for the BBC’s Songs of Praise‘s 35th Birthday programme. The producer, Diane Reid, asked me for the name of the choir, but we didn’t have one!
She tactfully suggested that we get one in time for the programme – so we did! Our mission is to worship and honour God through our singing, and to see lives and hearts turned towards Him.
AND HOW ABOUT YOU? WHAT’S YOUR BACKGROUND…?
My musical training is classical, having been started on the piano, then the oboe. My sister (who played piano, clarinet and saxophone) and I started a gospel wind quintet called Windsong
That group went on to form the basis of what would become my first gospel singing experience – New Dawn, an acapella group of 6 young ladies singing in 4 and 5 part harmony.
From there, I got involved with the District Choir through Noel Robinson who was the director at that time.
YOU RELEASED YOUR DEBUT ALBUM, ‘SMILE’ LAST YEAR. WHAT WAS THE STORY THERE…?
Many have asked why it has taken us so long after being together for 10 years – I was regularly confronted with the obligatory “…so, when’s the album coming out, then…?”.
I was usually stuck for an answer because really, I was waiting for the right time – God’s time. I really believe that nothing happens before it should.
IT’S VERY WELL PACKAGED. I REALISE THIS IS A RATHER OBVIOUS QUESTION, BUT AS MORE ARTISTS COME INTO THE MARKETPLACE IT BECOMES IMPORTANT TO SIGNPOST THE ESSENTIALS.
WHY WOULD YOU SAY THE PACKAGING ASPECT IMPORTANT…?
Packaging is important when marketing to a generation of aesthetically moved individuals.
If something doesn’t look good, people won’t purchase it. Good packaging gives the impression that the item you are purchasing is one of quality – it’s a halo effect – people make up their mind about a product within 10 seconds and with a CD, they wouldn’t have the opportunity to listen to it – its about what they see first!
Plus, KC is a choir, which is pursuing excellence – and that is not just about singing!
AND THE PROCEEDS OF THE ALBUM ARE GOING TO A CHARITY? WHAT ARE THE DETAILS ON THAT…?
Christian Aid, via Ken Fuller, their BMCs Liaison Co-ordinator, approached us. He had heard the choir before and liked our sound.
I liked the idea of contributing to something that I thought would be worthwhile. Christian Aid are doing great things in the developing world that more of us should be aware of – taking part in their staff conference last year was a revelation.
The choir has a heart of worship so it was something new to write about issues of social injustice, but I think it is reflected well in songs like ‘Guardian Angel‘ and ‘Infinitely Perfect‘.
YOU SAY ‘Many of us are ignorant of issues in the developing world and what various doing to tackle them…’ WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY THAT…?
Well, let’s start off with the album project. Its aim was two-fold – to introduce gospel music to Christian Aid supporters, but also to raise the profile of Christian Aid in the BMC churches. That says something, doesn’t it?
How many of us can really say that we know about the work that Christian Aid are doing? It is as wide as it is diverse – performing at one of their week-end conferences was a complete revelation.
And what of other organisations or movements which carry out work for or conduct protests on behalf of developing nations. There are so many – the Trade Justice Movement, the Make Poverty History campaign, Fairtrade, Cafedirect…
As a choir, we have had opportunities to minister at some of these rallies, and I have to say, that sadly we see very little representation of the BMCs at an individual level. We may see some at an official level, but I think that this is not enough.
We need to see more of the ordinary folks out there showing concern and support. I suspect that some of us may be a bit more clued up with all the media attention given to the G8 summit that is coming up and all the activity surrounding it, including LIVE 8 but what will happen after? Might it all just subside from the forefront of our minds…?
WHAT DO YOU THINK WE CAN DO TO BE MORE AWARE OR ENGAGE IN THE PROCESS…?
Corporately, I feel that the church definitely needs to get involved and start raising awareness of the issues that are affecting people across the globe – sometimes in the very countries that we come from!
No doubt there are some who know what’s happening ‘out there’, but I feel that there needs to be engagement between the BMCs and politics in general.
We need to start talking about issues and engaging peoples’ minds. And it’s got to be more than just sending a barrel of clothes in times of what we think of as ‘need’.
And what about the kids? I am sure that these things get discussed at schools and colleges, as it was in my day, and then they come to church and there is silence – it’s like we’re in another world.
But we don’t have to wait for the church, on an individual level we can start getting ourselves clued up – the news on TV and in papers for a start. There’s so many sites on the internet – we don’t really have any excuse to stay ignorant.
I HEAR THAT, AND I’M SOOOOO GLAD YOU MADE THE POINT. HERE’S TO HOPING MORE OF US ENGAGE IN MORE MAINSTREAM CHRISTIAN INITIATIVES…
IT WAS AN INTERESTING MOVE, DECIDING TO TIE YOUR ALBUM RELEASE IN WITH A CHARITY CAMPAIGN. HOW DID IT ALL GO…?
It was great! The album launch was unique in that Christian Aid gave a presentation in the daytime along with Integrity Music Europe.
In the evening one of their spokesmen was interviewed by Isaiah-Raymond Dyer (the MC for the evening) to promote Christian Aid’s aims and objectives.
The recording process itself was exciting, challenging, thrilling, daunting – all at the same time! This really was a growing process for me and the choir, and each stage of that process came with it’s own peculiar ups and downs
To be honest, I am glad for all of it, because I feel that we have grown by it.
AND WHAT HAVE YOU ALL BEEN UP TO SINCE THEN?
Well, since the album launch we have become the recipients of the GEM Awards ‘Best Choir of the Year‘
We’ve also had a busy year ministering – we’ve run workshops, ministered at churches such as Kensington Temple, sung at clubs such as the 606 Club, at famous church venues such as St Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey, been involved with more charity work such as the Trade Justice Movement
We’ve had a break and it’s all just about to start up again. We’ll be one of 150 musicians, actors and comics performing in each pod of the London Eye, we’ll be ministering at the Broadway Theatre Catford with Carmen Wiltshire and later on in the year we are due to go to Italy as part of a gospel festival being held there.
OVER THE YEARS WE’VE SEEN POPULAR EMPHASIS SHIFT FROM THE CORPORATE VOCAL SOUND TO A MORE ‘STREET’ STYLE, IF ONLY IN TERMS OF THE NUMBER OF RELEASES HITTING THE STREETS.
I WAS WONDERING IF YOU THINK WE’LL SEE AN ACCELERATED AMOUNT CHOIR MATERIAL COMING OUT OF THE UNDOUBTEDLY VIBRANT ‘CHOIR SCENE’…
We have always had artistes with a contemporary sound recording and releasing more than those with a choir sound. This may be because there has been a perception that the strength of choirs is in the live experience. It’s participatory. It’s large. It’s an ‘All together now…’ feeling.
It may also be that the logistics of having to organise and administer larger groups of people have simply been more difficult than those of the often-smaller contemporary groups. Having said that, the combination of a vibrant and growing choir scene and easier access to recording technology makes the possibility of increased choir recordings very feasible…
I guess you mean that the ‘choir sound’ is not as popular as the ‘RnB sound’. I am not sure that the two are mutually exclusive, I have to say. I listen to various records and I can hear that they have used a choir for their backing vocals.
I watch music videos and what do I see? I see a choir singing and swaying in the background (Kanye West and John Legend are prime examples).
On the flip side, there have been many gospel choirs that have incorporated the ‘street style’ into their music – Natalie Wilson and the S.O.P Chorale are a case in point.
THERE AREN’T AS MANY NEW CHOIRS COMING THROUGH THE RANKS THESE DAYS. WHY DO YOU THINK THAT IS…?
I don’t think I agree. It depends on what you mean by ‘through the ranks’. You know, culture is not static and any cultural phenomenon will change and develop according to the times and the movements of any particular place.
Personally speaking, a lot of the work that I do involves choirs all over the place – the local church choir is alive and strong.
There are quite a few youth choirs that have sprung up – there’s Young Bloods, the I Can Choir, UPC – which tells me that young people still want to sing and that it’s not all about the street sound.
There are also workshop choirs all over the place, some run by gospel ‘professionals’ and others that have been started as a result as one or more people having been to a gospel workshop.
This is a development that I find quite amazing – that people who are not from the gospel tradition will start up a choir on their own, and some in the most remotest of places, from Southampton to Hull to Scotland!
There are also so many schools that have gospel choirs now, and the kids are loving it. There is also a very vibrant choir scene in Europe in places such as Poland, Denmark and Germany where they are hungry for the gospel in both senses of the word. People just love to sing corporately!
‘HOW DO YOU SEE THE CHORAL FORMAT EVOLVING…?
Well first it started off with the church choir, didn’t it? Now we have so many other types of choir. The local church choir is still alive and strong.
There are quite a few lively and committed youth choirs that have sprung up that don’t just perform in their church, but at some high profile events. UPC, (a youth choir that I direct with other members of the Kingdom Choir) is a case in point – they will be supporting The Harlem Gospel Singers soon.
There are also so many schools, colleges and universities that have gospel choirs now. An interesting example is the Revelation Choirs of which there are many in various universities around the country.
I am told in Germany that they have what are known as ‘White Gospel’ choirs where all the members are white.
I think that as the Word of God and the sound of gospel spreads, we will see more choirs that may have all Chinese or all Indian members.
Just as any cultural phenomenon changes and mutates with the movements of society, gospel too has changed and developed, rather than staying static.
It’s a fantastic thought that whilst it has developed to suit its surroundings, culture, and people, the message remains the same.
SO WHAT DO YOU THINK WILL HAPPEN OVER THE NEXT DECADE OR SO?
I really don’t think that choirs are going to go away. There is something that is so inclusive and so liberating about them – I see this all the time – choirs and singing in a unit really does something for people.
AND IN THE MEANTIME, WHAT’S NEXT FOR KINGDOM CHOIR?
At the minute, we are planning a mini-tour and also will begin writing for our next album shortly. Apart from this, we have a number of dates coming up that people can check on our website…
I cannot tell you how SO, SO, SO PROUD I am of every single lady on this list!!!!
Story time: like many of the exciting ideas I get, this one came completely out of the blue and hit me like a ton of bricks
It went like this: last week as I was planning the relaunch UKGospel.com version 3, I thought I’d create a section dedicated to showcasing diverse UK Gospel talent in a very simple but effective way: make it part showcase, part profile, all celebration.
It’ll be wide-ranging and slightly atypical, expanding the type of recipient we’re used to seeing in editorials of this kind.
How about we showcase producers? Or song writers? What about the graphic designers that have given us distinctive visual branding over the years, on everything from websites to flyers to CD covers.
Anyway, you get the idea: the concept has legs. And scope. I decided to start the series with ‘Celebrating the Ladies of UKGospel’
There were quite a few reasons for that, not least because I think ladies in Gospel still don’t get the props they deserve
All this happened last weekend. I went ahead and made arrangements for the feature’s special edition graphic to be created
Deciding who should feature in the first ladies one was always going to be a difficult, as there are so many great ladies doing amazing things
However: it also made my decision to have multiple Ladies Edition entries a simple one – there was no way I could do just the one.
With that settled I decided on the format:
Showcase the range of talent we have across a number of categories: from fresh, just-out-of-the-gate artists to those who’ve been incredibly steadfast with an unbelievable track record.
I wanted to represent the broad spectrum of the UK Gospel sound, too: from RnB to Praise & Worship, Afrobeats to Soul and Pop and everything in-between.
Pressure: International Women’s Day
Then on Thursday I found out it was International Women’s Day on the 8th March 2021. What better way to launch this series than to publish it on International Women’s Day..?
Except that gave me only 24 hours to contact all the ladies, explain the concept, send them the questions, get their answers back and then spend the weekend putting it all together.
The pressure was on!
Here come the ladies…
This brings me full circle back to why I’m so proud of these women: every last one of them dug deep, went out of their way and honoured me with a very quick reply.
This went from a feature with a 2-week deadline to something that had to be turned around in 24 hours! Ladies: thank you again.
You’re going to see them all in a second, but I have to give a special shout out to the following intermediaries who made things happen: Teelow (for Rebkah), Uncle Charles (for Diana), and Chibuzo (for Rae Rae).
It’s past 3 am: welcome to International Women’s Day…
‘Celebrating UKGospel: the Ladies Edition – Part 1’
Hello, my name is: Lurine Cato
I am a: Gospel recording artist, multi-award winner, MBE recipient, a vocal coach and producer and singer-songwriter
I started doing this because: it was my calling. I’ve sang all my life from the age of 3 – I always sang in church
It’s my calling from God to do this – I could have gone the other way, as I’ve had major record labels approach me many times to do other types of music, but I felt the call of God to do this more
Here’s a random fact about me: I’ll give you two – most Gospel singers sing for charity, that’s standard, but in June 2012 I jumped 15,000 feet out of a plane for charity – and I only had 15 minutes to prepare when everyone had months!!!
Secondly, I’m the first female Gospel artist since 1922 to receive an MBE
Favourite song I wrote: I truly don’t have a favourite. I get moments when my songs get played constantly in my ears at home, but if I were to mention one, I’ll say ‘You Revive Me’, because of how that song came together – I wrote and co-produced it
That song gave me a MOBO Award – most people have to have an album to be nominated; I had one song!
Favourite song I wish wrote: this is so not fair! There are so many songs I wish I wrote!
The first one that comes to my head is Sinach’s ‘Way Maker’: I thought to myself “I could have written that – God, why didn’t you give me that song?! Why didn’t I hear it through the frequency? Did I miss it?” No, he gave it to Sinach! 😀
And trust me, she did a great job with that song!
You’ll be my new best friend if: you think I’m funny! I could have been a stand-up comedienne!! 🤣🤣
The one thing I never get asked, but I want the world to know about me is: I get extremely shy, but then I know how to pretend I’m not shy because I’ll make my face look like ‘I’m enjoying myself and this is great, and I don’t feel awkward….’
But inside I’m in a corner, screaming ‘get me out! Get me out!!!’ 😂
You can publish a story on any ONE topic very close to your heart on UKGospel.com. What is it? It’ll be a story about why Contemporary Christian (CCM) artists are separate from Gospel artists – why there’s such a separation and why don’t we ever come together in unity, and the reasons why it happens, and what we need to do to stop it from happening…
Hello, my name is: Michelle John
I am: an artist, vocal coach, mother, I’m a woman
I started doing this because: from when I was a baby, God gave me the gift of singing – it was not something I asked for, and through the journey of my life, doors and platforms opened up for me to sing, so I just don’t fight it
And I use my gift as best as I can to encourage others, and to make people happy and to minister to people and give them some sense of hope and healing through the songs I sing
Favourite song I wrote: ‘Labels’. It talks about labels we all have. Some of them are labels people have put on us, some are labels we’ve earned, some are from how society sees us
Favourite song I wish wrote: ‘Indescribable’ by Chris Tomlin/Kierra Sheard, etc. I just love that. I wish I’d come up with that
You’ll be my new best friend if: you just pray for me. Just support me with your prayers. You might not understand what I’m doing or the direction that God is taking me
You might not tick like on my post, yada yada yada, but if you just pray for me that God is guiding me, that I’m hearing from the Lord, then you’ll be my best friend
Everyone thinks I’m a… I guess the first word that comes to mind is ‘Diva’
But in actual fact I’m a… really lovely Diva – I’m like the girl next door Diva 🤣🤣
I’m just a lovely girl with Diva sensibilities 🤣
The one thing I never get asked, but I want the world to know about me is: as a strong independent, confident woman in myself, I’m what’s known as ‘the strong friend’. So often, people don’t ask you if you’re okay
That’s the one thing: people don’t often ask if you’re okay because they’re so used to you being strong, and being there for everyone else
But what I want the world to know is that sometimes I need a hug, too!
You can publish a story on any ONE topic very close to your heart on UKGospel.com. What is it? I think the story for me would be about self-worth and self-value, especially where women are concerned in understanding who you are, and who God says you are
We’re not what’s happened to us or the experiences that we’ve endured or come through, or escaped or survived.
Even with the scars and the pain and the memories and the experiences, we are who God says we are, and we should model that, which is very close to my own heart and my own message.
Hello, my name is: Naffymar
I am an: Urban Gospel Musician
I started doing this because: I realised God gave me the gift of music to reach out to the lost and express his thoughts through me
Here’s a random fact about me: I am 3/4 Ghanaian and 1/4 Nigerian. My grandmother on my father’s side is from the Yoruba tribe in Nigeria. Most people think I’m completely Ghanaian, but no, actually: I have something else in there… 😀
Favourite song I wrote: I have a lot of favourites, but my current one is ‘Stand with Me’, which is quite close to my heart. It says ‘when I’m alone, stand with me’ – that’s the long and short of the song, and I absolutely love it
Favourite song I wish wrote: It’s a song called ‘Out of Hiding’ by Steffany Gretzinger – there’s a version by Tye Tribbett. I love that song so much that I’m like ‘Oh – I wish I wrote that song…’. It’s still beautiful, though
You’ll be my new best friend if: you love to eat smoked salmon as much as I do. I am obsessed: smoked salmon with cream cheese and crackers and just a slither of avocado is… the bomb! 🤣
Everyone thinks I’m a… tough nut. Like I’m a tough person
But in actual fact I’m a… big softie on the inside. It just takes a while to get there sometimes, depending on who, and what, and where and how… But I really am a big softie
The one thing I never get asked, but I want the world to know about me is: well, it’s not that it never comes up, but I definitely think we can talk more about healing from trauma or things that have happened in our past that have made indentations on us that we may not necessarily be aware of
It might not even be something drastic. Sometimes it just might be a moment in time that was very traumatic to us and to our experience of life, and everybody is able to heal from that, and it’s important for us to lean into pain and vulnerability to allow God to heal us and work on us – and I feel like that’s a subject a lot of us run away from a lot of the time.
I’ve been though the process (and still going through the process in some ways) but it’s necessary, and you will love yourself for allowing yourself to go through the hard places…
You can publish a story on any ONE topic very close to your heart on UKGospel.com. What is it? A series of mini-stories from creatives:
Musicians talking about a memory in time preferably from earlier in life/in their teens, that they believe impacted them or shaped them for the better and influenced their creativity
It’ll be really interesting to get an insight into a creative’s life in a different way than we usually do…
Hello, my name is: Anu Omideyi
I am a: Singer Songwriter, Choir Director, Vocal Coach, Worship Leader
I started doing this because: I love God, music and ministry
Here’s a random fact about me: I’ve always loved to sketch
Favourite song I wrote: I change my mind about this every other month, but right now my favourite song is ‘Nights Like This’
Favourite song I wish wrote: ‘Monica’ by ItsTaylorMade – that one is a banger!
You’ll be my new best friend if: you’re passionate about healing and psychology, and just understanding ourselves better
Everyone thinks I’m a… confident person
But in actual fact I’m… Really shy
The one thing I never get asked, but I want the world to know about me is: more about my personal life further than just the music, just because I’d love to be a lot more transparent, but God’s definitely helping me in that area
You can publish a story on any ONE topic very close to your heart on UKGospel.com. What is it? It would be about healthy relationships – healing.
Hello, my name is: Becca Folkes
I am a: singer-songwriter and content creator from the UK
I started doing this because: God called me to it. Plain and simple. I wanted to be an actress or athlete, but God led me in this direction
Here’s a random fact about me: I love spicy food, to the point where I add spice to almost every dish I eat if it’s accessible
Favourite song I wrote: I loved writing ‘Rhythm’. I think it was definitely outside the box in terms of how I approached the topic and it was my first attempt at a house record, so I 100% enjoyed it
Favourite song I wish wrote: I definitely wish I was in the room while ‘Loved By You’ was being written by Mali Music. I love that song so much and it’s one of a large list of songs I wish I took part it
You’ll be my new best friend if: you buy me a large black coconut Yankee Candle!!
Everyone thinks I’m a… super bubbly/loud person all the time
But in actual fact I’m… pretty reserved most of the time
The one thing I never get asked, but I want the world to know about me is: I love Bali… But I’d need them to ask me how much their tickets cost so they can buy it for me so I can go! LOL
You can publish a story on any ONE topic very close to your heart on UKGospel.com. What is it?: The story I would post would be on the culture of silence in the Black Church.
Through ministry and sharing my testimony of surviving childhood molestation, I’ve been blessed to meet so many people
But the heartbreaking part is that so many can relate to or share my testimony and that grieves my heart. I’d like to have open and honest dialogues with leaders and survivors for all UKGospel.com subscribers to read and be educated by.
Hello, my name is: Diana Hamilton
I am a: Worship Leader, songwriter, recording artiste
I started doing this because: at an early age I saw and watched my dad who was a pastor and worship leader lead the congregation and eventually found that this brought me Joy and fulfilment too
Here’s a random fact about me: when nobody’s looking, I like to dance in front of the mirror.
When I was younger I used to watch a lot of dance films, so sometimes I just go back to that place where I feel I’m such a great dancer. I can dance, but I feel like I’ve got all the moves like in the movies! 🤣
Favourite song I wrote: that will be ‘Lay it Down’. I feel like it’s such an honest song that talks about being worried about the future and being open about how one feels, especially when things are uncertain
It’s a song I relly love – when I got feedback from it, people would say it was very relatable
Favourite song I wish wrote: at the moment it’ll be ‘People’ by Jonathan McReynolds.
I feel like it’s a song that could have been written 10 years ago, because it’s a topic that’s so relevant.
There are topics you talk about in conversation, but you wouldn’t think it could be put so well in a song and Jonathan McReynolds does such a great job, but doesn’t exempt himself in the storyline.
You’ll be my new best friend if: you’re happy for me, and you want to see me succeed. You’re fun and can make me egusi soup (it’s a Nigerian dish) – surprise me and bring it to my house! 🤣
Everyone thinks I’m… very confident when I’m on stage and performing
But in actual fact… just before I go on stage, I always need to go to the toilet because of nerves! 🤣
The one thing I never get asked, but I want the world to know about me is: one day I’d love to sing the national anthem, whether that’s in the UK or Nigeria – I think that’ll be amazing! I’ve never been asked that but I want the world to know that. That’s one of the things I’d like to do in my lifetime
Hello, my name is: Sadé Eboné
I am a: Singer-Songwriter
I started doing this because: I know that it is God-given, he could of given these songs to anyone else but instead he gave them to me. For that reason, I will serve the gift giver with the gifts He gave to me
Here’s a random fact about me: I wrote a book called ‘Sex Interrupted’
Favourite song I wrote: ‘Make You Smile’
Favourite song I wish wrote: ‘Holy Ghost’ by Kim Burrell
You’ll be my new best friend if: You understood the complexities of dealing with an extroverted introvert
Everyone thinks I’m a… workaholic
But in actual fact I’m a… Productivity-holic
The one thing I never get asked, but I want the world to know about me is: Can I ride a bike? No, I can’t ride a bike to save my life. And I’m ashamed of it
You can publish a story on any ONE very important topic on UKGospel.com. What is it?
Breaking barriers as a female gospel/Christian artist
Hello, my name is: Rebekah Young
I am a: Singer
I started doing this because: I love singing and I truly truly believe God has gifted me to share the message of Jesus and to enjoy music in all of its fullness
Find me at: ‘Rebekah Young’ Spotify/Apple Music and @rbkhyng on Instagram
Here’s a random fact about me: I am 1 of 7 children in my family and I have an identical twin sister
Favourite song I wrote: Has to be ‘Tender’, I remember I was on the bus in Manchester when the words came to mind
Favourite song I wish wrote: So many to pick from! But at the moment ‘Cranes In The Sky’, Solange
You’ll be my new best friend if: you vibe with Lauryn Hill/Amy Winehouse/Erykah Badu, only the best
Everyone thinks I’m a… Geordie
But in actual fact I’m a… Boro lass
The one thing I never get asked, but I want the world to know about me is: alongside my music I’m currently working as a youth worker and really believe God has put the next generation on my heart since I moved to the capital!
You can publish a story on any ONE topic that’s important to you on UKGospel.com. What is it? How important it is that Jesus is the centre of all our outworks; music, breathing, work, social life and everything in between
Hello, my name is: Sharyn (Pronounced Sh-reen)
I am a: Gospel R&B Singer-songwriter
I started doing this because: I felt that there was a gap in the market here in the U.K, so I decided to create the sound I wanted to hear.
Find me at: @SharynOfficial on Twitter and Sharyn on Apple Music (my favourite music platform)
Here’s a random fact about me: I released my first single when I was 9 years old, but you won’t find it anywhere on the internet.
Favourite song I wrote: Such a difficult question, but ‘Broken Hearts’. It’s a song that was made for the noughties and makes me want to get up and dance.
At the same time, it’s a very vulnerable and honest track, that asks an honest question that many people have, where and who do we turn to amidst our heartbreak and disappointment.
I wrote this song in a pitch black room in Uganda and I just poured my heart out to God.
Favourite song I wish wrote: ‘New Creation’ by Junior Garr. One of my favourite songs of all time, simple lyrics filled with so much truth.
You’ll be my new best friend if: You love to eat. Brunch is my favourite meal of the day and so you must be ready to meet at 12pm sharp!
Everyone thinks I’m… an extrovert
But in actual fact I’m an extrovert… LOL. I enjoy love spending time with people.
The one thing I never get asked, but I want the world to know about me is: I make some mean chicken wings! Fried, grilled, barbecue’d. Fantastic stuff.
Hello, my name is: Victoria Tunde
I am a: singer/songwriter and Gospel artist. As you can tell from my name, I’m of Nigerian heritage
I started doing this because: I’ve always had a passion for music – from a very young age I used to sing and be in plays, so when I found Christ it felt natural (especially as I have always written) that I would write and minister Gospel music
Favourite song I wrote: ‘Change Me’, that came out in December 2018. I just love that song because it really tells the story about my life and where God has brought me from
Favourite song I wish wrote: ‘So Will I’ – me and I’m sure a billion other people wish they wrote that.
You’ll be my new best friend if: you are kind, considerate, loving, not self-centred and a God-fearing human being.
Everyone thinks I’m a… snob. I’ve had really good friends that have given me feedback and they say I’m a snob
But in actual fact I’m a… I’m just really shy. I’m an introvert – an extreme introvert.
I might be in the room with a thousand people and I’ll just sit there on my own, not because I’m snobbing everyone but because I don’t know where to begin the first conversation
The one thing I never get asked, but I want the world to know about me is: I love to beatbox 🤣
I make really weird percussion noises and I’ve done it a few times and people are thinking ‘is there any instrument playing?’ and I tell them it’s me.
I sometimes do it if I’m daydreaming about something…
You can publish a story on any ONE topic very close to your heart on UKGospel.com. What is it?
I think it’ll be about money, especially in this pandemic season.
Talking about money can sometimes be seen as dirty by people or something that falls out of the sky.
I’d love to publish a story about becoming financially free, financially savvy and a good steward, because the bible talks about the talents, so becoming a good steward of the talents and therefore the money that comes with the talents that have been bestowed on to every single one of us.
So, who’s hiding it and burying it, and hoping that no one gets to judge them about it, and who’s investing it, and building on it and therefore is a good steward of the gift of funds placed in our hands
That’ll be a great subject for me, especially with my financial services background.
In 2010 Steve Jobs wrote his infamous Thoughts on Flash open letter, spelling the beginning of end for the technology that had allowed people like me with no HTML programming knowledge to design websites.
The two early versions of UKGospel.com, version 1 and 1.5 (don’t ask) had been designed in Moonfruit – it’s drag and drop interface was perfect for visual designers like me
While it’s taken the better part of 10 years for Flash to fully die (Adobe announced in 2017 that it will stop supporting Flash by 2020, and Google’s Chrome browser officially stopped supporting it on January 2021), I still have so many great stories in Moonfruit that I’ll be transferring over here.
UKGospel Legacy project
These stories will be imported here under a series I started a few months back over on the UKGospel social feeds on Twitter and Instagram, called #UKGospelLegacy (links: Twitter and Instagram UKGospel legacy feeds)
I have no idea how many of these stories, features and interviews there are in the earlier UKGospel.com versions, but there are a LOT.
A New Dawn
The scene has had an incredible run over the last 5-6 years: recording technology has never been cheaper, release cycles have never been more frequent, the diversity has never been this varied or vibrant.
There’s still so much to say, but this was supposed to be a very short post on the UKGospel Instagram feed that’s somehow ended up being a stream of consciousness piece
I’ll end by saying this: it’s a sparkling new dawn for UKGospel.com, but there’s even more good news: there are more platforms than ever before supporting this incredible, diverse, pulsating, creative and passionate scene. I list some of them in another post (see below)
I’ll be using this series to share the journey: everything from transferring some of those classic stories from the scene to the evolution of the UKGospel.com visual identity (I suppose you can call it a rebrand)
We’re living in the age of video so keep an eye out for the occasional behind-the-scenes video update (like this one)
So much more to say, but I’d better stop now. I still have to write this ‘Ladies of UKGospel’ post and I have less than 6 hours to do it – and I haven’t even started it yet!
This series is part of the content migration programme from earlier versions of UKGospel.com, ensuring the history and evolution of the UK Gospel music scene is recorded and publicly accessible
Original publication date: 28 January 2009
Written and edited by: Yinka Awojobi
‘…THERE WERE NO AGENTS, RECORD COMPANIES OR MANAGERS THAT MADE IT HAPPEN…’
Why Muyiwa Olarewaju’s appearance on BET’s flagship gospel show is hugely significant for UK Gospel.
Muyiwa & Riversongz are the first international act to feature on BET’s influential Gospel music TV showcase. It was time to find out how that all came to pass…
You probably know the bible states that God exalts the humble. Muyiwa Olarewaju is the archetypal humble guy, in the most sincere sense of the word.
In my view genuine humility is hard to pull off. When any talent presents obvious evidence of itself, the talented individual in question can almost come across as the very thing they are trying to avoid: at best unable to accept a simple compliment and worst, ever-so-subtly arrogant.
Or maybe I’m just projecting my own frustrations here… 🙂
When Muyiwa says he’s just as caught out by his astounding rise as everyone else, I believe him. Even the cliche, ‘it’s all God’ stock response we all revert to doesn’t sound so corny coming from him…
Anyway, the annual BET ‘Celebration Of Gospel’ 2009 is aired in the UK on the 8th Feb 2009. Muyiwa and Riversongz are the first international act (not just a UK one) to feature on this massive show.
When I heard about it, I knew it deserved more than just an entry in the News section.
So I fired off a few quick questions to the man. I’m sure I’m going to do more with him (there’s also a rather decent ‘Behind The Beat’ feature he did a while back on UKGospel.com Version 1 which I need to transfer here), but for now: have a read of this and be inspired.
I certainly was….
How did you get the gig?
Good question! Interesting, it was something that some of the artists on the bill at the event asked us and all we could say was: God… It truly was!
There were no agents, record companies, managers that made it happen. It was just God. Of course once the inquiry was out by BET, then booking agents, etc, got involved. It should be an encouragement to the guys here in the UK who are quietly beavering away…
The bible puts it this way: ‘…Be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding…’
What was the experience like?
Where do I start!? I could talk all night about it! We have all been talking about it since 8th December 2008! What was happening really didn’t register before we got there.
When we landed in Los Angeles’ LAX Airport there was a limo that was bigger than anything I have ever seen or been in before. Driven by an ex Navy Seal… We felt safe!
Then we get to the hotel and I had a meeting with the Head of International programming who told us that apart from our performance, they will be making a 30-minute documentary on us! This was great.
Then we get to the rehearsals, and you see all these artists where the only reason I had seen or been near them before would have been my radio show… Then finding out that we were the first ever ‘International act ‘ on the show, as they put it…
There is so much to tell but BET certainly treated us like – to answer your question in one word after my long story – Amazing!!!!!
How much do you think the UK sound is appreciated over there?
I really can’t speak for other times but from this one experience at the Orpheum Theatre, it would appear America has been waiting for the ‘UK sound!’
Every time we rehearsed the place came to a standstill, it was like: ‘who are these guys???’
Then it’s followed by rapturous applause. UK def gained a few fans!!! LOL!
What would your advice be to other artists looking to achieve (and even exceed) this kind of level?
So much to say to them:
This level can be easily exceeded if you hold on!
Apart from ‘Jesus is Lord’, the other mantra that Muyiwa & Riversongz have is ‘RELATIONSHIPS, RELATIONSHIPS! RELATIONSHIPS! RELATIONSHIPS and RELATIONSHIPS!!!!!’ It’s not money you need, it’s RELATIONSHIPS!!!!!
Like Russell Simmons said in his book: just ‘DO YOU’.
America and the rest of the world is not waiting for a copy of what they do, we didn’t get onto the show because we were trying to do the American thang.
We were doing the Jesus UK thing… Innit, though!
Having been selected for BET’s Celebration Of Gospel, what do you think is the challenge for the UK in sustaining a presence at that level?
I think there are many obstacles.
For many in the UK it’s a struggle to get a record done. Then when you scrape and fast and pray and do everything to get it done, you have no resources to promote.
Artists don’t attain the COG level only because they worked hard, but the distribution of the albums is wide reaching, the promotion (TV, radio, online, etc) is very strong… The list goes on…
All these things require resources. For us the challenge now is tying up the right relationships to make the necessary thing work, but we are looking to God to open doors…
We already have more invites to USA in the month of January than we did all 2008.
What’s next for Muyiwa?
I definitely need to keep the radio show and in-flight entertainment shows going [Muyiwa presents an In-flight show called ‘Sounds Of Africa’ for Lufthansa Airlines, produced by UKGospel.com’s George Luke].
COG inspired all of us a great deal to go back and continue to strive to be the best we can.
Whilst we were at the COG and the 30 minute documentary was being made about us, BET got me to present a few bits, and one thing led to another, so it looks like there may be some TV work coming but don’t tell anyone…lol!!!
What’s next for Muyiwa & Riversongz?
To think when ‘Declaring His Love’ was number 1 on HMV’s charts for 5 months we thought we had arrived – only to be shown another level…. Bring it on!!!!!!
We will be doing a great deal of travelling! USA, Europe and Africa…
We’re also in the middle of writing the next album ‘Declaring His Name’. We are doing some appearances in China, Pakistan, and India with local worship leaders…
We also have a one day event for worship leaders, pastors and all who are interested and involved in music in church: ‘What If…’
We should be launching it soon and the event is later in the year. You can hit us up on riversongz.com and find out more…
A seasoned radio presenter, Muyiwa hosts the the flagship show “Gospel Tonight” and “Worship Tonight” on Premier Radio as well as presenting “Sounds Of Africa” on Lufthansa Airlines.
Since releasing his three albums ‘Restoration’, ‘Declaring His Power’ and ‘Declaring His Love’, Muyiwa’s voice has become instantly recognisable and one that he hopes will unite people of all races, cultures and denominations.
New or experienced vocalist? AStepFWD puts you in front of the very best UK music industry professionals this weekend
Get tips, techniques and practical information to transform your vocal game
Priscilla Jones, whose experience in vocal coaching includes working with celebrities such as Annie Lennox, JLS, Rita Ora, The Saturdays and flawlessly singing live in high-pressure professional situations like ‘Strictly Come Dancing’
Mark Delisser: if you’ve watched any major TV vocal talent show in the past 10 years you’ve seen Mark’s work: he’s worked as the vocal coach on ‘The Voice’ UK, alongside coaching the UK entries for the Eurovision. He’s also featured as vocal coach on the BBC’s ‘Pitch Battle’, ‘This Is My Song’ and ‘The Naked Choir’
Lurine Cato needs no introduction to many in the scene. A multi-MOBO Award recipient and nominee, Lurine was also the official 2018 vocal coach on ITV‘s Good Morning Britain ‘Sing It To Win It’
Back in the day (as in: well over a decade ago), when I was publishing new music release information on the UK Gospel music scene, I had this huge dream to have a BIG problem.
I realise that sounds counter-intuitive but stick with me.
I longed for a time when I’d be pushing out updates about consistently high quality releases, so much so that I’d barely have the capacity to cope.
Simple. That’s one of the primary hallmarks of a maturing music industry: solid output across genres, from the incredibly niche (Gospel Drill anyone?) to the less obvious – think Singer/Songwriter and Gospel love songs (not as weird as it first sounds…)
This of course is in addition to the obvious conclusion most of the planet jumps to when they think of what qualifies as ‘Gospel Music’.
I’ve had MAJOR problems keeping up with #NewMusicFriday updates recently because so much is coming out.
Plus: joy of joys – the proportion of well-made songs compared to the (…how do I put this politely..?) entirely unimaginative and incredibly bland fare is higher than it’s been in a while.
That’s a bad problem for me because I can’t keep up. I want UKGospel.com and its corresponding social feeds to be as frequently updated as possible (Instagram, Twitter and Facebook at this point in time – who knows what else is round the corner? Clubhouse?)
But it’s a good problem for anyone looking for decent music from the United Kingdom. There’s now a wide range of choice regardless of music taste.
Now, we just need our industry infrastructure to catch up with the music output and we’re set for life. Hopefully that’s where the GMIA comes in, but that’s a story for another day.
Speaking of places to go for more on UK Gospel music: stop by the nice folk via the links below and tell them I sent you.
Meantime I better start on my #NewMusicFriday updates, too. The guys over on those platforms ain’t playing – they’re fast…
As I said: I’m living in the future and I have a content bottleneck problem.
It was 11 years this week that the legendary UK Gospel Hip-Hop group GreenJade unofficially disbanded
It’s almost impossible to overstate their impact on the UK Gospel Street Music scene.
A decade ago Hip-Hop and Gospel music were very strange bedfellows to many Christians.
Some people weren’t merely apathetic to the mixing of scripture and Street Beats – they found it difficult to separate mainstream Hip-Hop’s hedonistic reputation from the Christian passion the artists brought to the art form, many of whom delivered at levels highly comparable to what you found on your radio at the time.
Like many of their contemporaries, GreenJade had to endure a combination of misunderstanding at best, and – when things got extreme (and personal) – accusations of being downright satanic.
And that’s not an exaggeration. Nostalgia often dulls the mind to the tearing sharpness of moments we remember with fondness.
This aspect of our history has always fascinated me, so when I got the call from @Wizdom to do a shoot with the guys I couldn’t resist the chance to record a significant piece that history.
We found ourselves in Central and East London on a summer’s afternoon, and over a few hours, took a few pictures and had a few laughs.
This was one of a few photo shoots I did with the guys (I think we ended up doing two or three over the years).
If you think I’m laying it on a bit thick when I talk about the weird persecution a lot of artists of that era received, watch Wizdom’s video below to hear the stories of their experiences first-hand.
If you’re a UK Gospel Street Music artist of any stripe:
Behold: these are the shoulders of the giants you’re standing on…