Ernie Toppin: The London-based gospel R&B singer

Monday 1st August 1994

A Cross Rhythms rave review of 'Mysteries' by ERNIE TOPPIN ended with the plea for someone to locate this most talented new R&B gospel man. George Luke has finally done it.

Ernie Toppin
Ernie Toppin

In each issue of CR, a truckload of new releases come under scrutiny, both from household names as well as from names that leave everyone asking, "WHO??" One such album was 'Mysteries' by Ernie Toppin, reviewed in CR17. It scored a far from abysmal 9 out of 10 rating, and one track from it has already featured in our esteemed Editor's Top 1,000 list, but with no sleeve notes or any accompanying bio material, everyone was left asking, "Ernie who?" Well, we finally tracked him down, and over a hot chocolate and orange juice in a McDonalds' in London's West End (this is Cross Rhythms - we couldn't afford the Ritz), Ernie unravelled a few mysteries for us.

"I've been singing since I was 16," Ernie told me, "but at the time, I wasn't a Christian. I didn't have any church background and only thought of Jesus as a very good person, but not someone I could believe in. At the time, I was heavily into the club scene, going to raves and smoking dope and taking some other drugs. I had a band, and knew a lot of people in the music business. But then a friend of mine became a Christian, and started telling me about Jesus. At first, I laughed at her, but she kept on over a period of about a year, until one day I eventually accepted Christ in her front room. That was in 1992."

After becoming a Christian, Ernie started attending the Potters' House church in Walthamstow, East London. "Back then, I was a real hippy. I had dreadlocks and looked different, but the people in church didn't look down on me. They answered all my questions and accepted me as I was." Although by this time he had turned his back on his previous wild lifestyle, he got to meet even more big names in the music industry, some of whom collaborated with him while he was recording "Mysteries'. "I met D-lnfluence, shortly after they were chosen to support Michael Jackson," said Ernie. "They worked on a track "Salvation' with me. I also got to meet some members of Roachford, with whom I co-wrote another track. I kept meeting all these people. It was like God was showing me both worlds and I had to make a choice - between following him and going after success in the music business. I decided to stick with following him."

The first track Ernie wrote was the title track. "I had this song, and I decided to sing it to my Pastor," Ernie said. "Now, before all this, I was a very flamboyant performer, but when I came to sing the song to my Pastor, all that self confidence left me. I realised that now, when I sang, if it was going to be effective, it would be because of God's anointing, and not because I was some great singer, just as I had become a Christian because of the power of God's word, not because my friend was a great speaker. After I had finished, my Pastor said he wanted me to sing it at a concert the church was having that evening."

Over the past couple of years, the Potters' House church has gained a reputation as being one of a small number of churches where young members are encouraged to use more radical forms of contemporary music, in particular hip hop and ragga. Ernie explained that all the people involved in the music in the church had all become Christians around the same time, and that none of them had previously had a church upbringing. "With us, God's really taken the scum of the earth and changed it for his glory," said Ernie. He has also been on a tour of branches of the Potters' House church in Australia and the USA. However, Toppin says, "Your reviewer was right about me -1 don't know much about the Christian music scene." Not that this has been much of a handicap - he's appeared in several places, including a brief appearance on late - night trash TV. "I performed 'Salvation' on 'Dial Midnight' on ITV," he told me, "but I'm not all that keen on being on television."

Ernie is already busy working on a follow-up album, and plans to work with the group N - Daze, because, like him they have a vision to reach the rave/Nightclubbing crowd with the gospel. He is also in college, training to be a plumber. "I'll only give that up to go into ministry full-time," he says. "By that, I mean a recording deal, with concerts - and I'll have altar calls at my concerts." Please, someone give him a recording deal fast - Britain's ravers need him more than Britain's sinks do. CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.
About George Luke
George Luke is music editor for the black arts magazine Artrage and lives in London


Reader Comments

Posted by Paula Salazar in Edinburg Tx @ 17:22 on Aug 4 2015

I have always heard about you Ernie always wanted to be able to here you,&now at the Door Christian Fellowship I finally have this chance your testimony,&what your were saying that God wakes you up at &give you a song,to sing,it brings back memories to me,of my Mother,she was &Evangilist,&ya woman of God,she would wake up at &start praying &singing,saying The Lord has given her the words to sing& to share it with other people,she would always go into different churches &using her song that The Lord has given,I just Love listening to the song you sang Judgement day I seen it on You Tube,&just had to listen to it again it's a true song&many people don't get the meaning of it,&when they do it's to late,Your testimony is beautiful,&true people ask God to help&instead of telling God,that your a child of his &say God you have to help me in this situation, Ernie I'm so happy I get to see you in person at church& a lot of things is revealed back to me,Amen

Posted by andy noon in leigh manchester @ 19:04 on Dec 7 2012

i had heard in the past about your testimoney but never read it for myself. i used to go to the potters house in walthamstow in the late 90`s and regulaly spoke to ernie. a very humble man who i admire for walking away from fame for God. i listen to ernie`s records from time to time and they always lift my spirit. God bless you Ernie and all the Potters House as your teachings have stayed with me from place to place as i have moved about the country. When i attended Walthamstow i didnt really understand but i do now. Thankyou Pasta Brown for doing as the spirit tells you, never give up on any soul, you impacted my life so much without trying that is how i know it is the spirit within and not your own works.. Praise Jesus

The opinions expressed in the Reader Comments are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms.

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