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4 Decades on....No Gospel honours at the BRITS? GMIA, AStepFWD, Nicky Brown & Faith Child sound off

Former US First Lady Michelle Obama surprised BRIT award viewers with her appearance at last night’s award show. Expressing their shock and delight to their 478k followers @GlamourMagUK tweeted: “OMG *THE* Michelle Obama presenting an award. Are we at the right party? #Brits “

4000 fans including 2,500 NHS staff flooded London's O2 Arena to watch their favourites win awards across eleven categories. Yet again there was no gospel/christian category. Given the legacy of the London Community Gospel Choir, the global success of The Kingdom Choir, the crossover appeal of Guvna B and the multiple millions of streams garnered by MOBO award winning CalledOut Music, surely our community’s contribution to the UK music industry should be recognised. Yes? No?  

Sharing her thoughts with Premier Gospel, GMIA Chairwoman Tolu Adepegba said: “They should have included gospel categories a very long time ago. Gospel plays a huge part in the UK music industry. If the Grammy’s, Billboard’s, AMA’ s and all these other well recognised award ceremonies can honour the genre why can’t the BRIT awards. Maybe this is a conversation that GMIA can have with the BPI (folk that run the BRITS) to find out why there isn’t a recognised category for gospel, given that it plays a poignant part in music worldwide. 

Legendary producer and musician Nicky Brown addedI believe the awards system works around popularity, sales and fabric of the society they are set in. In the USA, gospel is part of the collective foundation of the culture, it’s the music of their founding fathers. Gospel’s contribution is nationally acknowledged there and has now developed into popular music. It’s been the route to success for many great artists. We, on the other hand are building the forum. Our influence in the UK music scene is unmatched and exceptional however, yet to be recognised. I think there would be no question of Gospel being in the Brits if we could show a collective force of buyers and supporters. More Stormzy moments alongside an all-gospel best seller will guarantee we make an impact at the Brits from the grass roots in the future.”

MOBO winning rapper Faith Child chimed in: “The BRITS represents music that’s been churned out and successful in Britain. If we look at the stats and how we sell, to the best of my knowledge we aren’t selling at a remotely close level to the wider scale of other musicians (disclaimer – I am willing to stand corrected). If they are basing the categories on how popular these genres are, then maybe we don’t have as much scope and sales. If like the Grammy’s they were honouring every music genre, then we could ask why gospel was omitted. I’d love us to have a category, but I don’t know if we have the sales and numbers to demand this yet especially given that the BRITS reflects the Official Charts.”

So, what’s the way forward? 

Though I feel we need to push for a gospel/christian category, I do also think that it’s a numbers game so maybe we need to focus and build rather than trying to get into some of these spaces where the numbers are working against us,” said AStepFWD founder Dennis O’Neil, echoing sentiments from Tyler Perry’s 2019 BET Awards speech.

Written by Akosua DF, Premier Gospel Presenter 

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