Writing a review of an entire week’s worth of events is never easy, especially when so much took place. But it’s not an unpleasant situation to be in after what was a brilliant week of gospel music.
This year’s Gospel Week is the second one to be arrange by Christian music radio station Premier Gospel. It taught us two things: gospel music in 2015 is broad and diverse, and that there’s a lot of talent coming out of the UK that needs to be supported and celebrated. Looking back at the end of the week, fans of gospel music from these shores have to be encouraged by what is out there.
The week itself started off with jazz on Tuesday but the first event we attended was the house and hip hop night on the following night. The format differed from last year’s event in that the two genres were separate in 2014. What it did mean is that there was a lot to cover at the Croydon leg of the week (and yes I could walk to that night’s event. Jealous?) A set from Wayne Marshall featuring Kevin German covered off the house side of things, Rain Freedom gave us some poetry and Karl Nova, A Star and Faith Child brought us some real hip hop.
The rappers brought us a mix of flavours. Karl Nova brought us down memory lane with tracks such as the Bridge and Faith Child went to the other end of the spectrum and gave us some tracks from his brand new album Airborne. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Tunnel Vision = banger. #nuffsaid
And now for something completely different…
Latin. No, we’re not talking about those gospel choir songs that have some Hispanic rhythms, we’re talking about actual songs in Portuguese and salsa and meringue dancing. We started with Obedience singing songs that the majority of the audience might not have understood but they definitely felt. But then came the fun bit. Professional salsa dancers gave us a class and taught us a few steps.
Did we leave salsa experts? No. But we were a lot closer than we were when we first arrived and had a ton of fun in the process. Result!
The next leg of our week was the reggae night. A packed out House on the Rock played witness to an unpredictable night of music from yard. What did this night have in common with the Olympics? Suddenly everyone was Jamaican. Artists from both sides of the Atlantic were there in full force and included Denis McLean, Anastasia Baker, Richie Dan and Lytie. In combination, it brought a blend of sweet reggae music and ragga dancehall styles that had us on our feet. Richie Dan got his fair share of pull ups, while a cameo from King Arthur brought the house down.
Oh, and shout out to the dancing granddad. He was awesome.
The week finished off with a night that included the very best of praise and worship, contemporary gospel and hip hop. First thing to say is that Jesus House is massive! Do they have regular Sunday services there? Anyway, we really enjoyed this night. IDMC, Shad Stone, Evans Ogboi and Guvna B reads like a very solid lineup of gospel innovators, MOBO winners and good all round blessed musicians. Being quiet or miserable was officially outlawed so we could get on with participation, singing, dancing – worshipping.
The range of ages was wide and musically there was something for everyone. Including Big Church Day Out the week before, we’ve now seen Guvna B perform three times in the space of a week. But we’re not sick of him – far from from it, in fact. It really does show how deep his discography is now and how good he is at what he does. Getting a whole bunch of kids on stage with him for his hit Chale was great to see.
It all came to a close with a set from Isaiah Raymond and Friends. Short of this being a full blown Raymond & Co reunion, this brought the week together well as it was led by a signer who for a long time, around the turn of the century, was one of the most recognised faces in the industry in this country. But there was no Playing Games or Song in the Midnight or any of his classics, instead they opted for some congregational songs that everyone could sing along to. It’s safe to say everyone went home happy.
Gospel Week 2015 has built on what was an impressive debut and given a second year that has also delivered. We’re already looking forward to next year!