It’s Sunday and therefore a perfect time to talk about Gospel Music i.e. Black Gospel Music. You may have been to a Church where black gospel music is played on a weekly basis, listened to it on the radio, gone to a show or watched the gospel choir competition on television. If not, you will have at least had a taste of the rich sounds if you heard the Gospel group led by Karen Gibson during Harry and Megan’s wedding last year.
In the book British Black Gospel, Steve Alexander Smith describes Gospel music as originating from the American Southern states and the Caribbean slave plantations. The enslaved people combined the European hymns of the seventeenth century with their work songs to produce ‘Negro Spirituals’. As the people migrated to different parts of the world inclusive of Britain, they have taken their music with them, further adapting on the basis of the sounds of the environment that they are in such as British Gospel music is further influenced by both black majority church environments and UK street culture. Black Gospel Music is increasingly recognised in various awards such as Gospel Entertainment Awards, MOBO Awards, the Urban Music Awards and the Christian & Gospel Album Chart.
Everyone will have their favourite gospel artists, a few that stand out to me include:
- Thomas Rutling was a negro spirituals singer born enslaved in the US in 1854. As a free man, he went to Fisk University when he joined the university’s choir as a tenor in 1871. The choir which later became known as the Fisk Jubilee Singers toured the US and Europe for seven years. Rutling moved to the UK as a singer and eventually became a schools’ voice teacher.
- The pioneering Harmoniser Gospel group formed by Anton G. Latouche, a Jamaican who migrated to Britain in the 1950s. The Harmonisers work spanned three decades. In 1978 they signed a groundbreaking deal with Pilgrim Records.
- The Wade Brothers founded in 1985 and since as the British version of popular American family group, The Winans.
- The London Community Gospel Choir (LCGC) formed in 1982 and still going strong. LCGC is popular in its own right with additional experience backing for artists such as Justin Timberlake, Madonna and Kylie Minogue.
- Isaiah Raymond Dyer, the son of the British Gospel pioneer, George Dyer, founded Raymond & Co., an internationally renowned and award-winning Gospel/R&B group
- Noel Robinson a leading Gospel artist and CEO of 4:23 Records.
- Karen Gibson – the founder of Kingdom Choir which she started back in 1994 that sang at the Royal Wedding.
- Muyiwa Olarewaju and Riversongz, a British Gospel singer and songwriter who mixes traditional gospel music with elements of world music, soul, R&B and pop. toured with Steve Wonder and individually have worked with a variety of artistes ranging, from Emelie Sandy and Pixie Lot to Amy Winehouse. Muyiwa & Riversongz also made history in 2009 as the first international artists to appear on the American BET channel at the annual “Celebration of Gospel
Bringing Gospel Choirs right to the forefront of the population, the BBC has in recent years had a Gospel Choirs competition. Gospel Choir of the Year.
It’s Sunday, so I’d say it’s a good time to have a listen to an artist I’ve highlighted or another great British Black Gospel artiste that may appeal to you.
A worthwhile reference and interesting source for more detailed information: British Black Gospel by Steve Alexander Smith. Ref: http://britishblackgospel.com/
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