There is a new generation of US gospel artists, who are pushing the envelope with their sound too: Tye Tribbett, Jonathan McReynolds, Lecrae, Travis Greene and Tasha Cobbs. In America in 2014, more gospel albums were sold than Latin, classical and jazz combined, with the genre accounting for 6.6 per cent of all music sales in 2015.
Here in the UK there is also a gospel scene, but the story is different.
In the Seventies and Eighties it was buzzing, with concerts in mainstream venues, gospel- oriented programming on mainstream television (The Eighties ITV gospel series People Get Ready has to be the ultimate representation of the talent which existed at that time on British screens) and radio (The Gospel Train on BBC Radio 2 was the first nationally broadcast gospel radio show). In the 1970s groups like The Harmonizers, Persuaders, Soul Seekers and Kainos were signed to major record labels.
By contrast, the only gospel artist signed to a UK major label are The Kingdom Choir (pictured above), who sang at the recent Royal wedding of Harry and Megan. They are currently signed to Sony and touring the world.
The UK gospel artists are the definition of independent and they have embraced new technologies and distribution to grow their careers. They make the most beautiful, moving music.
Here are some of my top recommendations:
Guvna B – Gospel Grime artist meets entrepreneur. His streaming numbers are amazing, he has won many awards, written a best-selling book, runs his own clothing line and festival and very outspoken against gun and knife crime.
CalledOut Music – A recent entry on the scene and much needed breath of fresh air. His sound is infectious, his lyrics touching and he is definitely here to stay.
Philippa Hanna – Equally embraced in the worlds of singer-songwriter and country music as she is in gospel. Hanna has been on the gospel scene for the past 10 years and brings her own unique inflections to the sound.
Lurine Cato – Her vocals have become a staple of the UK gospel scene. A Mobo Award Winner, she is currently touring with the NHS B Positive choir.
Annastasia Baker – Former X Factor contestant Baker experienced a career spike in the States following her 2015 debut album You Turn and a spate of touring. She is currently recording her sophomore album.
Faith Child – His sound is dance music fused with gospel rap and the audiences are loving it. He’s the best-dressed artist in gospel and his stage presence is off the charts.
Sarah Téibo – The most beautiful voice and phrasing, her music videos are on repeat. She currently has a single out (a remix of Like A Child) with gospel legend Fred Hammond.
The UK gospel scene has its own voice and unique nuances. I predict another wave of chart hits and record label signings as the sound continues to spread rapidly with the new generation.
On my playlist
GUVNA B – HANDS ARE MADE FOR WORKING (Guvna Music)
Guvna B recently lost his father and this release is a tribute to him. The song Cast Your Cares is a tear-jerker and Everyday will make you jump up and down with no inhibitions. A well-crafted and sincere album from an amazing artist whose music matures and grows with him.