With honouring at the heart of the inaugural Step FWD Awards, a special inclusion has been the naming of awards after two individuals who are sadly no longer with us but whose lives opened doors for so many today. One of those is the prestigious John Paculabo Award for Industry Development named after the late gospel pioneer and trailblazer.
We were thrilled to see Charles Koranteng named the 2023 recipient of the John Paculabo Award for Industry Development. Uncle Charles as he is affectionately known is no stranger to the gospel music industry and has a passion for African gospel music and its development, and is involved in the production and promotion of music and musicians of that origin.
He is founder of the Africa Gospel Music & Media Awards (AGMMA), an annual event that celebrates gospel music and artists of African diaspora, and runs 1615 Media, a Christian media and events company. Charles is also a member of the board of advisers of WOAMM (Women of African Origin in Music Ministry) an organisation that serves as a support system for women of African origin in music ministry. He is a Radio Show host who promotes the work of established and up-and-coming gospel singers and produces content for radio and TV. He has a syndicated African Gospel Music Show on various radio networks including Urban Gospel Network Radio, PrayzIn Radio and is the host of Habari Africa on Premier Gospel Radio.
Uncle Charles is deeply connected with numerous artists based in the UK and across Africa including Diana Hamilton – multiple winner of Vodafone’s Ghana Music Awards. He can easily be credited with bringing through African artists to greater prominence long before Afrobeat became the global force it is today. The UK Christian and Gospel community has increased dominance now thanks to his visionary work.
Sam Paculabo (above) who presented the award on the night and the whole Paculabo Family have been super supportive and had this to say, “John was a humble man who was passionate about worship and justice. He left behind a legacy that will last for generations to come”.
Author of “British Black Gospel – The Foundations of this vibrant UK sound” Steve Alexander Smith told us more about the late John Paculabo: When Kingsway Music Executive John Paculabo passed away in January 2013 the shockwaves were felt across the world of Contemporary Christian music. A visionary from the start, his move from musician to A&R man resulted in phenomenal success with the CCM Pilgrim Record label, which he both served and managed. John excelled in all areas of the music industry beginning with his 1970’s group Parchment and ending with his meteoric rise to Managing Director of Kingsway Music – a powerful force in British Christian music recording, marketing and publishing.
Paculabo was astute and quick to realise the flourishing musical talent amongst the British Black church community in Britain during the late 1970’s. Setting up a subsidiary record label, Ebony Records, investment, marketing, artist management, national tour schedules and state-of-the-art recording facilities were poured into black groups such as Paradise and The Harmonisers. John Pac as he was affectionally known would not have realised it at the time but historians would recognise him to be one of the early pioneers and agents behind the early development of British Black Gospel in the UK. Incidentally, The Harmonisers a talented group, which incorporated a brilliant instrumental band and three singers was home to a young teenager prodigy by the name of Lavine Hudson. The experience gained by these groups such as signing record deals and the discipline and professionalism of touring lit the slow fuse for today’s achievers and UK Gospel entrepreneurs.
John Pac and Pilgrim raised the confidence levels of young black artists form Britain’s churches and made them realise that it wasn’t all about the Americans, but the UK could also cultivate it’s own Gospel industry. Paculabo leaves a legacy that stretches far beyond CCM.
An article published on the Cross Rhythms website explained a bit of his legacy: During his time at Kingsway he established their publishing arm Thankyou Music, working in partnership with Capitol CMG Publishing, as one of the most significant publishers of Christian music, handling such songs as ‘In Christ Alone’, ‘All Heaven Declares’ and ‘Here I Am To Worship’.
We are grateful for John Paculabo’s remarkable legacy and honour the amazing work Charles Koranteng has done over the years to receive such well-deserved recognition. Watch the StepFWD Awards on TBN UK to catch this moment and many more. Download the app at: watch.tbn.uk