Tag Archives: UK gospel industry

I live in the future. And it’s better than I thought it’d be…

Huge Dream

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.

Why?

  • 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’.

Bad Problem

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?)

Good Problem

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.

This is a good thing.

Check these guys out

GMIA Town Hall February 2021: Your Chance to Influence Real Growth in the UK Gospel Industry

There I was, minding my own business when this thing pops up in my feed: the UK’s Gospel Music Industry Alliance (GMIA) announced a series of Town Hall meetings.

Golden Opportunity?

It’s a golden opportunity for all UK Gospel creatives to share their career blockers and professional pain points (and – let’s be honest – we know the issues are legion).

The Gospel Music Industry Alliance (GMIA) say they’re listening, which makes this is a good time to tell them what you really think – so they can hopefully take some action on your behalf

Plus: this call to action is aimed at everyone: they’re defining ‘creatives’ in the broadest possible sense of the word: venues, retailers, music producers, musicians, managers, media outlets and everything in between.

Cynical Troublemakers

And for those cynical troublemakers heckling from the back of the class: I feel your pain. But on the flip side of that same coin, there’s a good chance your suggestion might be a critical component bringing the solution to everyone’s problems.

As GMIA outline some of their plans, they’ll invite your feedback on those very plans – you can’t get fairer (or have more power and influence) than to have a seat at the table, right…? Well, here’s your chance to do just that on the 4th February 2021.

Plus: it’s on Zoom, so you don’t even have to travel further than the next room, if at all.

REGISTER HERE
https://bit.ly/gmiaTH1

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Great ‘Mainstream’ Songs from Christian Artists

The debate around whether Christian artists should create exclusively evangelical (or at least overtly Christian) content is unlikely to be resolved this side of heaven.

In the meantime I thought it’ll be interesting to launch this new series examining what actually happens when people who profess the Christian faith actually record music that – to coin a phrase – doesn’t ‘have Jesus in every line…’

No Answers

I don’t claim to have any answers – if anything I find I’ve ended up with more questions as I ponder this issue.

But one thought I keep returning to is this:

If we Christians were a bit more accommodating of our creatives who – by the very nature of what they do – bare more of their thoughts and souls than the rest of us are naturally inclined to, then perhaps many of them won’t opt to ‘go secular’.

If we’re being honest it’s fair to say we’re constantly pushing (perhaps the word should be ‘stifling’) our artists by being tacitly prescriptive and cornering them into a ‘either/or’ choice regarding the flavour of their art.

Quite often – arguably more often than we’d probably care to admit – life is grey.

Surely it makes more sense to let the gifted use their gift to articulate this experience…?

Just a thought.

Anyway: on with the series.

This time: Samm Henshaw, Jake Isaac and Happi

Samm Henshaw

From Samm’s wikipedia page:

Samm essentially found his love for music and learned to play instruments in his church pastored by his father, where he developed his abilities further.

Alongside gospel artists Helen Baylor, Fred Hammond, Israel Houghton and Alvin Slaughter, Henshaw is said to have spent his childhood devouring mainstream pop music, from Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson to Usher and N*Sync.

Henshaw pinpoints his biggest vocal inspirations as D’Angelo, Paolo Nutini, Lauryn Hill as well finding songwriting inspiration in Grammy award winner Frank Ocean.

Showcase: ‘These Hands’

Samm Henshaw Spotify profile

Happi

From Happi’s website:

Happi is one of the new and vibrant talents emerging out of the UK scene.

Hailing from the heart of North London, Happi has successfully merged his afro/urban background, trendy pop sounds and a positive message to create his own musical identity.

Showcase:The Introduction

Happi Spotify Profile

Jake Isaac

From Jake’s Facebook ‘About’ page

Born and raised in south London, UK, Jake began playing drums at the age of 3 and during his school years taught himself to play piano and bass guitar.

By the age of 16 he had completed his grade 8 drums at Trinity College London, and had begun teaching the instrument.

At 19, whilst studying marketing at university, Jake had begun to make a living as a part-time session musician playing drums and bass on various jazz and rock records for a variety of international artists, including the Grammy-award winning Duffy.

Marketing manager by day, songwriter and session musician by night, Jake began working with artists such as Cynthia Erivo, Gabrielle, and boy band Blue.

Showcase: ‘Carry You Home ft J.P. Cooper’

Jake Isaac Spotify profile

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Things you probably missed in 2017 that you need to catch up with – NOW

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

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

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

I know, right..?

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

Podcasts

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

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

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

Hook up with GL360:

Reality TV – Vade

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

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

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

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

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

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

Check it out below.

Artists

Joshua Luke Smith

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

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

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

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

Inder-Paul Sandhu

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Janine Dyer

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

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

If you missed it, fix that mistake now.

ZoeGrace

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

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

ZoeGrace – Sweet Jesus (J Moss cover)

Still Shadey

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

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

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

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

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

Melvillous

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

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

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

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

Industry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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)

Grenfell Tower Fire: UK Gospel artists convert pain to action

The pain – for many, many of us – is still severely raw.

Grenfell TowerDeeply uncomfortable questions are being asked of individuals and corporations, and even more so of local and national government.

It all feeds into a tide of emotion that even now, several days later, remains highly volatile.

Conspiracy theories and barely-checked rage fuel what many feel was a completely avoidable loss of so many lives at the Grenfell Tower fire of 14th June 2017.

Time for Action

But: there’s a time for questions, and then there’s time for action.

While the as-yet-unnamed Simon Cowell-led charity single is likely to be the focus of the musical headlines, it’s good to see the Gospel music community already in action too.

Heart of the Community

This just in (Tuesday, 20 June 2017, 18:12)
Day of Prayer called for Wednesday 21 June 2017


London City Mission Day of Prayer

London City Mission and The Message Trust are responding to this from the point of view of not just the Grenfell Tower fire, but also the earlier London Bridge and now, yesterday’s Finsbury Park attack.

They are calling for prayer and fasting for London and our nation, tomorrow, Wednesday 21st June.

It takes place at

Kensington Temple
Kensington Park Road
Notting Hill
London W11 3BY

It runs from 12 noon – 9pm

More information on the London City Mission website (details also below)

Pass Da Mic

Anthony King (you may know him as the popular compere Pass Da Mic) has been tirelessly working Facebook over the past few days.

That effort eventually ended up (a few minutes ago as I type this) in a benefit concert taking place on 25th June 2017, in the heart of the affected community at the Tabernacle Christian Centre, at 210 Latimer Road

His is just one of several pockets of activity by many Christian creatives who are looking to do more than just talk but positively and proactively help those affected by the fire.

Happi

Around the same time Happi also reached out to his musician friends and partnered with clothing company Chxrch Gang.

They’ve lined up another benefit concert, billed as ‘Love Over Everything’, confirmed for Camden Assembly on 2nd July.

Love Over Everything

Love Over Everything poster

Simon Parry – Remember

More musical tributes are starting to surface.  Simon Parry’s ‘Remember’ was actually written for an upcoming ‘All Star Kids Club‘ music project called ‘Home’, a special album for kids and families living with and going through grief.  It’s due out this summer.

He said:

‘Seeing the heartbreaking news of the Grenfell Tower, I wanted to release this song as a single to be a small comfort and hope for those who have lost so much.

The song reminds us to never forget precious times spent with loved ones. From big events to the small things like ‘frosty school days’ and ‘ favourite songs’ – they are all part of life’s precious moments that we should cherish and to hold onto the knowing that our loved ones are safe in God’s hands in heaven.

All Star Kids Club & Simon Parry: ‘Remember’

Artists For Grenfell

Artists For Grenfell, the Simon Cowell initiative was finally released this at midnight today and topped the iTunes chart within 2 hours of release.

A wide range of artists including Stormzy, James Blunt, Rita Ora and London Community Gospel Choir all feature on the single

This page will be updated with links to more events if and when they are announced.

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Why You (Still) Need Radio in Your Life – By Radio Station Owners (Part 2)

radio-station-broadcast-concept

Why You (Still) Need Radio in Your Life (By the People Who Should Know): Soulcure Radio

In an age where you completely control every aspect of your audio consumption experience, why do you still need music radio..?

I’ll be honest: before I started working in radio I had very little time for the medium.

These days we’re spoilt for choice, with options for free and paid download services, or audio streaming via any number of platforms, most of which are (for the moment at least), free.

So why in the world would anyone need music radio? Continue reading Why You (Still) Need Radio in Your Life – By Radio Station Owners (Part 2)

Why You (Still) Need Radio in Your Life – By Radio Station Owners (Part 1)

Radio Signal Broadcast Graphic

Why You (Still) Need Radio in Your Life (By the People Who Should Know): Vinejuice Radio

In an age where you completely control every aspect of your audio consumption experience, why do you still need music radio..?

I’ll be honest: before I started working in radio I had very little time for the medium.

These days we’re spoilt for choice, with options for free and paid download services, or audio streaming via any number of platforms, most of which are (for the moment at least), free.

So why in the world would anyone need music radio? Continue reading Why You (Still) Need Radio in Your Life – By Radio Station Owners (Part 1)

5 Inspirational UK ‘Gospel’ Tracks You Have to Check Out (Part 2)

You Can Do it

This series celebrates a sometimes contentious area of Christian music: the ‘non-evangelical’ output.

Over the years we’ve sadly lost far too many hugely talented creatives to the wrong side of the unwritten (but oddly pervasive) law that suggests every sphere of Christian creative activity has to have an evangelical aspect to it.

I’m sure you know the one: it postulates all Christian songs need ‘Jesus in every line’.

Continue reading 5 Inspirational UK ‘Gospel’ Tracks You Have to Check Out (Part 2)

Why You (Still) Need Radio in Your Life – By Radio Presenters (Part 1)

Pure Evoke_F3_Lifestyle Radio

In an age where you completely control every aspect of your audio consumption experience, why do you still need music radio..?

I’ll be honest: before I started working in radio I had very little time for the medium.

These days we’re spoilt for choice, with options for free and paid download services, or audio streaming via any number of platforms, most of which are (for the moment at least), free.  So why in the world would anyone need radio? Continue reading Why You (Still) Need Radio in Your Life – By Radio Presenters (Part 1)