There are times when music really reminds us of its purpose. Yes, we all have tunes on in the background sometimes, but when we allow music to sit front and centre, it lifts us, encourages and makes us move.
This year, terrible as it has been for many, has a right to be lacking in strong tracks. Who’s in the mood to release music when there’s so many other things for us to pay attention to? A global pandemic will do a lot to throw your release schedule off course. But in fact, this year has been a treasure trove for fantastic gospel music in the UK. And because so many of us have needed that extra dose of positivity, the flood of high-quality music has been timed perfectly.
Here’s the proof. Check out the submissions for the September UK Christian Charts from A Step FWD. They had a record-breaking 91 tracks put forward for consideration. That’s like three new releases every day for a whole month. That’s massive!
But it isn’t just about quantity. Looking through my list of UK gospel tracks released in 2020 is throwing up some amazing tracks from a wide variety of artists. Whether it’s house and garage from Sharyn, praise and worship from Sarah Téibo, grime from A Star, R&B from Mark Asari or drill from Tee Supreme, there’s something for everyone. Then over the summer the floodgates opened. Reblah, CalledOut Music and Andrew Bello among others brought the heat.
So, what’s the reason? Why have the tunes kept coming despite the obstacles? I interviewed Deborah-Darling recently for my show, the UK Gospel Show on Premier Gospel, and asked her this very question. Why still release music during turbulent times? Her response? I had to still be obedient to God. God knows what we need and is giving us the food for our souls when we need it most. Has it been easy? Most artists will tell you it hasn’t, especially during the early days of lockdown. But the music they made was worth it.
The music coming out of the UK in 2020 is touching hearts and breaking down doors. Take a look at Guvna B appearing on BBC One and receiving a prestigious Dove Award nomination. Or Melvillous showing up twice on the Reach Records Summer Twenty Spotify playlist. Or Niiella smashing it on Sunday Best, the gospel talent show hosted by Kirk Franklin. Does that sound like an industry in the grasp of a pandemic to you?
Some people even went further by using the opportunity of the pandemic to make music in ways they might not have before. Check out the brilliant Solitude Project from Amen Worldwide. The title suggests a body of work created especially for the season we’re currently in. And when you hear tracks such as ‘God Help’ by WYLD featuring Saint James and Asha Elia, you find amazing production and a message that is timely.
All this is possible because of the current crop of artists that are able to use the internet to their advantage. Even if they couldn’t cosy up with each other in a studio or on stage, they’re still collaborating virtually. Even though gigs can’t take place right now, artists are still interacting with listeners on social media. We’ve even seen people like A Star and Triple O putting on virtual concerts.
When we look back at 2020, we’ll remember the loneliness of lockdown, the pain of lost loved ones and the struggle of being separated from our normal everyday lives. But we should never forget the music that has helped to bring us through those times. We should be appreciative of the tracks that have made an impact on our lives this year and the artists making them.
Missed the full listings of the Top UK Christian & Gospel Tracks this September? Click image below: