Tag Archives: Michelle John

Michelle John’s ‘Paper Doll’ – The Back Story that Never Got Told

Michelle John and Yinka Awojobi at The Premises Studios, April 2016

Introduction

I wrote this back in April 2016, with the original intention to have it coincide with the release of Michelle John’s EP, Paper Doll.

If you’re wondering why you’ve never heard of Paper Doll, the answer is simple: it was never released. 

I asked her a few years later why she didn’t go through with it and she cited two reasons, which – on giving it a bit of thought – I concluded were different sides of the same coin.

Buyer’s Remorse

The first: shortly after recording was completed (but before the scheduled release), Michelle appeared in series 6 of The Voice UK (she eventually gave in after years of repeatedly being invited to appear on the show).

The second was because she was struck by that thing that plagues many creatives, akin to buyer’s remorse: she simply felt it wasn’t up to the standard she had set for herself.

That meant I had this great story about one of the women I’ve come to admire the most in the UK Gospel scene, not just for her vocal ability, but also for her positive outlook on life, vulnerability, disarming openness and bags of personable charm.

Michelle has since gone on to do some amazing things, but unfortunately it seems the world will probably never get to hear Paper Doll.

I had the opportunity to listen to some of the songs being recorded live in the studio, and this is the story of that evening.

Yinka Awojobi
Content Development
UKGospel.com


‘I know who he means…’

The Premises Studios, Hackney, East London.  It’s about 7:45 pm. 

I step indoors, out of the chilly spring night.

‘I’m here to see Michelle’.

The guy behind the reception counter stares back at me, blankly.

In my head I start to work out how best to describe Michelle John: songwriter. Artist. Arranger. Activist. Accomplished vocalist…

It’s unlikely any of those will help Reception Man, even though they’re an accurate selection of the many hats she wears.  And she wears them extremely well.

Another guy I hadn’t noticed pipes up from behind the counter: ‘I know who he means.  Come on, I’ll take you. It’s right at the top – bit odd to get to.  You might get lost, mate..’.

Groundbreaking

While it doesn’t have the profile of Abbey Road Studios on the other side of town, The Premises is incredibly significant to those in the know, and sadly becoming one of the few key, heritage music studio spaces left in London.

Last time I was here I witnessed the making of something truly groundbreaking, the end product going down in UK Gospel music history as a true international milestone.

Back then Nicky Brown was on production duties with Janine, Chris, Gillian and Lisa, led by the indomitable Isaiah-Raymond Dyer working out of one of The Premises’ smaller rooms.

What came out at the other end of that process were tracks that included a reworked version of Song in the Midnight (that’s what was being recorded the day I was in), making up Raymond & Co‘s seminal Playing Games album.

Professional Background Person

Unless you’ve been around the UK Gospel scene a fair while, chances are that – at best – you’re only vaguely aware of who Michelle John is.

There’s good reason for that: she’s a professional background person, featuring both as lead and backing vocalist, as well as an arranger for some of the best Gospel talent the UK has had to offer over the years, including London Community Gospel Choir and Noel Robinson‘s Nu Image.

International

Michelle now occupies that rare space dreamed of by many but actually lived out by few – she’s one of the UK mainstream music industry’s go-to support vocalists for many international names you’ll recognise including Will Young, Annie Lennox, Eric Clapton and Joss Stone.

Michelle John and Eric Clapton

She’s in London for less than a week, having just returned from South East Asia a few days ago.

After this recording session she’s off to New York in 3 days’ time as part of Joss Stone‘s current international tour.  As usual, her schedule is jam-packed.

Michelle John and Joss Stone

Hang in the Studio

Michelle and I have been meaning to do the ‘come hang with me in the studio’ thing quite literally for years, but we could never make our diaries work. 

Michelle and Yinka – Paper Doll recording session, Premises Studios, April 2016

Sometime later in the evening when our conversation gets round to that fact, she says, in a quite matter-of-fact, yet philosophical way: ‘nothing before its time’.

It’s a reflection of how zen she’s become in recent months, wearing years of life’s pain on her sleeve, but somehow mostly transcending it. 

Like the rest of us, Michelle has her down days, but in the main she’s on the up and up.

Paper DollHighs and Lows

Anyone following her on social media will be familiar with her life’s highs and lows: from growing up in Peckham, South East London to the struggles of single parenthood, to personal fears and insecurities, to insight into the hard work, and – it has to be said – glamour of working across the globe.

A lot of that informs the life stories going into her second solo recording, Paper Doll, scheduled for an August 2016 release.

Studio Time

The studio she booked out is on the topmost floor, and Second Reception Man was right: I’d have got hopelessly lost if I’d attempted to come up on my own.

The room has a cosy, warm glow.  Most of the illumination comes from a couple of spotlights embedded in the ceiling, with backlit buttons, switches and faders on the mixing desk adding to what already feels like the laid-back ambience of a Jazz club.

Michelle John – Paper Doll recording session, Premises Studios, April 2016

Michelle is standing over the desk, in deep conversation with the mixing engineer.  She catches me out of the corner of her eye, comes over, gives me an exceedingly warm, familiar hug before heading back to the desk.

In Control

It’s quite obvious from watching her work that she’s one of those creative types who is absolutely clear on how she wants her narrative conveyed through her craft.

She’s also completely unfazed by the sheer physical dominance of a studio setup, with the myriad options that high-end studio equipment, people and possibilities present. 

The telling of her story is paramount, and absolutely everything in the room is nothing more than a tool for her to tell it the way she needs it told.

She’s in complete control.  As in: in control of everything – a solid steel fist under a sweet-looking velvet glove…

The sound engineer may know about the technical stuff: the faders and buttons, and the musicians their instruments, but there’s no doubt who’s in charge around here.

‘Studio Hat’

Michelle puts her hat on.  It’s some kind of trendy, mini bowler thing. 

Someone says it’s her ‘studio hat’ and she laughs in response, but a couple of seconds later I completely get what they mean – donning the hat seems to make her already businesslike focus dial up a few more notches, as the music playback begins.

She turns round, looks at me and does that apologetic thing many creatives do when they’re about to share a work in progress: ‘these are just guide vocals, Yinka..’

Faces

I sink into a deep leather sofa and take in my surroundings: on backing vocals in the recording room on the other side of the glass are a few faces I recognise

Left to right: Faye Simpson, Wayne Ellington, Michelle John, Samantha Smith and Christina Matovu, Paper Doll recording session, The Premises Studios, April 2016

Wayne Ellington (great vocalist in his own right and Michelle‘s former colleague from their Noel Robinson & Nu Image days), Faye Simpson (from another seminal 90s group, Nu Colours), Samantha Smith (whom I don’t know) and – from the new generation of vocally fantastic artists – Christina Matovu.

Pain in the Project

I take in the songs on playback and it doesn’t take long to spot a running theme here: there’s a lot of pain in this project.

But there’s also strength and several shades of hope: from tangible reassuring hope, to hope borne of a longed-for resolution and freedom from current situations.

And there’s hope that springs from the intangible optimism powered by the decision of personal determination: the choice to make a better life.

Michelle John’s Life

Paper Doll is the true story of Michelle John‘s life in song, an unflinching narrative of relationship reality and the challenges it can sometimes bring.

From the struggles, joys and aspirations of single motherhood on ‘To Raise A Man‘ to the feeling of helplessness and being trapped on ‘I’m Alone‘, to the despair of the aftermath of a strained relationship on ‘How Can I Trust You Again‘, and the beginnings of renewed hope on ‘I Found Me

Moving On

And while these song titles broadly suggest powerlessness, the opposite actually holds true: sometimes you can only move on in life when you truly acknowledge the scars of hurt life has dealt you, and become completely comfortable talking about what you’ve learned, as opposed to the damange they’ve inflicted – there’s a freedom that comes with that level of openness…

Suggesting Paper Doll is some kind of self-pity project is to miss the point entirely: this is Michelle John in her own words: honest and deep, painfully vulnerable, her life writ large from her personal perspective, and – most importantly – she’s finding the power in her pain.

Tell Your Story Yourself

The session still has a while to go, but there’s a break and we resume our conversation – I share my thoughts on how personal the songs are, and wonder about her thoughts around making so much of this public.

Her reply is telling: ‘when so many people have told a version of what your story is, you might as well tell it yourself’.

No Bitterness

She says this without suggestion of much bitterness.  However there’s a quiet determination that suggests there are a few records that need setting straight.

I decide not to push for more details on Paper Doll‘s narrative, even though I’m curious to find out more about the cast of characters in these true-life stories.

But: the truth of the matter is that it doesn’t really serve much purpose beyond satisfying a crude tabloid need… Besides, the title says it all: the protagonist in this story is the doll, not the other characters in her life.

I have a feeling that – as personal as some of the incidents being recounted are – they are all too familiar for all too many people, both within and outside the church.

And even if it’s for that reason alone, Michelle John‘s Paper Doll is one to look forward to...

Studio selfie: (left to right – Faye Simpson, Wayne Ellington, Michelle John, Samantha Smith and Christina Matovu) The Premises Studios, April 2016

EXPLORE MORE

Enjoyed this?  Check out more in the UKGospel Legacy Series

Celebrating #UKGospel: launching the Ladies Edition (Part 1)

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.

Atypical

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.

No props

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.

Showcase talent

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

  • Find me at: Lurine Cato on Instagram and check out my music on Spotify

  • 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 love trying out new things. Hair, fashion and food
  • Favourite song I wrote: Walk With Me ft Aude-Carla
  • Favourite song I wish wrote: God like you by Calledoutmusic 
  • You’ll be my new best friend if: you’re full wisdom and have a great sense of humour
  • Everyone thinks I’m a…very outspoken person who doesn’t care about people’s opinions 
  • But in actual fact I… get quite shy sometimes, I just push it aside to do the Lord’s work
  • The one thing I never get asked, but I want the world to know about me is: I’d rather stay in my room than go out to be with friends. I love being in my own space!
  • You can publish a story on any ONE very important topic on UKGospel.com. What is it? “Jesus: The expert at turning a Nobody into somebody great”

Hello, my name is: Niiella

  • I am a: Gospel Musician, singer, vocal coach – to be honest, I wear different hats on different days, but those are the two main things that I do
  • I started doing this because: I felt like it was the least that I could do in return for God saving my life – saving me from being suicidal, from depression, saving me from myself

    I was so grateful when I saw how far I had come that the least I could do was give this back to God so that other people can be blessed
  • 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 love swimming and being in water
  • Favourite song I wrote: ‘Back To You’
  • Favourite song I wish wrote: This changes every month. At the moment it’s ‘Nothing Else’ by Cody Carnes
  • You’ll be my new best friend if: you take the time to try to get to know me rather than assuming you know who I am

    Also, if you buy me chocolate
  • Everyone thinks I’m: an extrovert
  • But in actual fact I’m: an introvert in the true sense of the word
  • The one thing I never get asked, but I want the world to know about me is: lol – I can’t answer this question as I’m actually a very private person
  • You can publish a story on any ONE very important topic on UKGospel.com. What is it? The use of gospel music to advocate for social justice, marginalised groups and victims/survivors of any kind

Hello, my name is: Asha Elia

  • I started doing this because: I saw there was a need for more kingdom music and I got tired of complaining to God about the lack. Eventually He just said ‘Hey, you’re right here, you can do it’.
  • Find me at: Asha Elia on Instagram and Twitter
  • 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
  • Find me at: @Becca_FolkesUK on Instagram and Twitter)
  • 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
  • Favourite song I wrote: Adom
  • Favourite song I wish wrote: How Sweet the Name of Jesus sounds
  • You’ll be my new best friend if: you love to worship and follow on my insta or watch my video on YouTube
  • Everyone thinks I’m an… Extrovert
  • But in actual fact… sometimes I want to be on my own
  • The one thing I never get asked, but I want the world to know about me is: I am veeery good cook
  • You can publish a story on any ONE very important topic on UKGospel.com. What is it? How African Gospel musicians can make an impact with their ministries in the UK and beyond

Hello, my name is: Rae Rae

  • I am a: Christian Music Artist
  • I started doing this because: I’ve always loved singing. I’ve been part of choirs, and I just really feel like God wants me to use my voice for Him

    I’ve come to know that music is such a powerful tool and I’ve always wanted to be able to create songs that will impact people in such a positive way
  • Find me at: Miss Rae Official on Instagram and Facebook
  • 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: According to some of my family members, I have a tendency to sing in my sleep!
  • Favourite song I wrote: ‘Love Don’t Mark Skin’, a song about domestic abuse
  • Favourite song I wish I wrote: ‘More Than a Woman’ – Gregory Porter. One of the best singers and writers, there has ever been!!!
  • You’ll be my new best friend if: you are a Nottingham Forest fan hahaha
  • Everyone thinks I’m… of Nigerian heritage
  • But in actual fact I’m… of Jamaican and Kittian heritage
  • The one thing I never get asked, but I want the world to know about me is: That I’m a big fan of Karaoke!!!! I Love singing louddddd, it’s the best thing!!
  • You can publish a story on any ONE topic very close to your heart on UKGospel.com. What is it? My story would be about people that have experienced church hurt and how they find their way back to God

Hello, my name is: Sarah Teibo

  • I am a: Worship leader singer songwriter and recording Artist
  • I started doing this because: I felt strongly that I had something to share with the world and there is no better time than now to do it
  • 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.

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Great ‘Mainstream’ Songs from Christian Artists (Part 3)

This is the third in a series that looks at UK Gospel artists and their exploration of the world of ‘mainstream’ music.

You know the one: songs that don’t necessarily fall into the evangelical bracket (and we all know the long-running discussion we’ll be forever having about that).

Meantime here are another 3 artists to check out – this time it’s the ladies edition

Michelle John

Michelle John was born to sing!

Whether it was singing as a child in her local Gospel Choir or recording and touring with stars such as George Michael, Annie Lennox, Mariah Carey and Eric Clapton, the diversity of her musical background and the wide range of Artists she has worked with have given Michelle a great vision for her musical destiny.

Michelle has worked with Eric Clapton for the last 9 years during this time she has extensively toured North and South America, Japan, Asia, Australia and Europe

She’s toured with Will Young on his last 3 U.K Tours, and perform with Herbie Hancock and Sheryl Crow and recorded with the Phenomenal Lenny Kravitz. She also recently performed at a concert for President Barak Obama.

Michelle has also been Rita Ora’s vocal coach.

(Text taken from the Michelle John Facebook page)

Showcase: Doing Me

Michelle John Spotify profile

Sharlene Monique

Sharlene-Monique is a multi award-winning singer-songwriter, who began singing in church aged 4.

Her debut EP Destiny was released in April 2018 and combines emotive, soulful vocals with inspiring songs of empowerment, love and self-acceptance. It has been streamed over 300,000 times internationally on Spotify including Japan, Taiwan and the Philippines.

(Text taken from Sharlene Monique’s Spotify profile)

Showcase: You

EP: Destiny

Rachel Kerr

Rachel Charmaine Kerr professionally known as Rachel Kerr is a British singer/songwriter, celebrity vocal coach and entrepreneur born in Walsall, United Kingdom.

She is also the CEO and founder of international performing arts academy Singercise™.

She is a member of the Grammy Award Association and a BET Music Matters endorsed artist.

Her debut EP release Back To Music, was released in 2012 and went on to win the singer her first MOBO Music Award and a 2012 Urban Music Award nomination.

Kerr has toured the US, UK and Africa opening for the likes of Lauryn Hill, Brandy, Musiq Soulchild, K. Michelle, Kirk Franklin and Fred Hammond.

(Text taken from Rachel Kerr’s website)

Showcase: All for You

Spotlight album: Unboxed

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Vinejuice needs you this Christmas!

Vinejuice needs you this Christmas!

You’re invited to join them for a 24hr non-stop #CAROLATHON broadcasting live from Vinejuice Radio and on social media.

The initiative has been launched to raise money for vulnerable women and children escaping domestic violence, abuse, and prostitution.

On Friday 22nd December from 12 noon, Vinejuice will be streaming 24 hours of carol singing, challenges, and fun.

Their target is to raise £2,500 for a charity called Cherished Hearts that offers personal and practical support, ongoing friendship and mentoring to vulnerable women and children.

The charity will put the funds towards their plans to secure a property to provide shelter for these families.

You can support in the following ways:

  • Make a donation for Cherished Hearts at JustGiving.com (for donations of £50 or more you and/or your organisation will be recognised as an official sponsor during the broadcast)
  • Share the campaign with your friends, family and on social media
  • Donate your social following and join the Thunderclap campaign so we can get this thing trending on social media on Friday (22nd December).
  • If you do want to get involved get your skates on because for the Thunderclap campaign to go ahead they need at least 100 people
  • Details at http://thndr.me/klU5YE
  • And finally, tune in to the Carol-A-Thon and be ready to sing along on Vinejuice Radio, watch on Facebook or YouTube (subscribe to the YouTube channel and follow their Facebook page so you can be notified when they go live)

Every £1 you donate will make a HUGE difference and take the charity Cherished Hearts closer to their vision of buying a safe house for women fleeing life-threatening situations.

Great line-up

Expect to hear from (and see) the great and the good from the UK and international Gospel music scene passing through including (but not limited to):

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(Adapted from a supplied press release)