Recently there was a debate on social media, when one of our best known gospel artists was described as ‘the Queen of UK Gospel’. It caused quite a discussion, and some of the comments – on both sides – were very interesting, to say the least. So, I want to briefly explore in my own way why it may be a good thing to identify ‘the best’ among us in gospel music. After more than 40 years observing and experiencing artists come and artists go – and come again – I’m qualified to make a good judgement call on this subject. Right?
IS IT BIBLICAL?
The question that most people seemed to argue about in that social media debate, was: ‘Is it biblical to identify who is the best?’ – which, to me, is another way of asking: Who is the greatest? My answer is YES! Yes, it is biblical. All through the Bible, God recognises things, people and places as better than another. Have a good read of Luke 9:46 and Luke 22:24, where the disciples literally argued about who should be greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.
I had to pause and laugh while writing this, because it just goes to show that the principle idea of having such debates isn’t new. Some people think that talking about such things are a carnal waste of time. Jesus was untroubled by the disciples’ question: “Who is the greatest?” We know this, because He answered in a very direct and matter-of-fact way. It was a legitimate and valid question, and He used it as an opportunity to expose their heart condition and to give them the candid truth. Next, He taught that the important characteristic of ‘greatness’ is being like a child in trusting God and being a servant to all. But, in the final part of His answer, He described that the seating next to Him in Heaven is reserved to be given by God the Father; therefore, everyone is going to know that whatever that person has done – they’re GREAT, and they would deserve that position, too! God recognises greatness.
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WHY ARE WE SO SCARED TO SAY?
WE LOVE KNOWING WHAT IS THE BEST
WHAT IS BEST BRINGS JOY
IDENTIFYING THE BEST ENCOURAGES FUTURE BEST
WHY ARE WE SO SCARED TO SAY?
WHO HAS THE RIGHT TO SAY WHO’S THE BEST?
WHO’S BEST IN UK GOSPEL
Well, I’m taking myself a little seriously by putting pressure on myself to close this article in sweet controversy by naming my ‘Who’s Best in UK Gospel’. Based on my criteria, it’s those I see who were visible, working and achieving in 2016, and those I can see forging a path for themselves in 2017. I could have easily listed more, but I wanted to be hard on myself and restricted myself to five in each category. So, in no particular order:
Artists: GuvnaB, Lurine Cato, London Community Gospel Choir, Muyiwa Olarewaju, Noel Robinson.
These five are obviously and certainly operating at the top of their genre style – prime examples in song, deed and action.
Choir Directors: Ken Burton, Karen Gibson, Bazil Meade, Volney Morgan, Wayne Ellington.
My choir director list focused on those who have a profile and are shaping choir sounds. Some have spread themselves across a variety of choral groupings in different settings – both culturally and geographically.
Music Producers: Evans Ogboi, Ian Green, Ibe ‘Giantkiller’ Otah, Paul Watson, Adrian Moore.
Music producers have been critical to a lot of album successes in 2016 (not forgetting the engineers). There are others, but these are the ones I’ve chosen with current product(s) that have had a very good rating.
Influencers: Marcia Dixon, O’Neil Dennis, Audrey Gray, Roger Moore, Charles Koranteng.
These are individuals, who are continually pushing the boundaries of thought and view. They have something to say, keep in touch at grass roots behind the scenes, and communicate it regularly up front through some significant means or other.
Radio Presenters: Yinka Awojobi, LadyT, DaveP, Lavinia Goddard and Adaeze Chiwoko.
Radio presenters are a bit like Influencers, with the advantage of speaking to us every day and driving our interest in the scene. I admire these folks greatly for their consistency and for the excitement they bring to the table.
Ones to Watch 2017: Aaron T Aaron, Andrew Bello, A-Star, Jason Nicholson-Porter, Sarah Téibo.
In this mix, I’ve placed those who have been around a little while and seem to be preparing for something special. I think they could develop into being among ‘the best’; they’ve got quality music and really should find that strategy to take it up to that next level this year. Where talent ends, strategy begins to help someone be among ‘the best’.
So now you know a few of those who, I believe, number among our best. But, if you want to see my real list, get in touch. LOL!