From a spiritual or musical perspective, Coventry is probably famous for two things. Firstly, for the destruction of its ancient cathedral during German bombing in the Second World War and the phoenix-like rise of its modern successor. Secondly, for the two tone ska revival of the late 70s where for a brief moment, the Coventry music scene was cool.
These days when it comes to music Coventry is overshadowed by its near neighbour Birmingham but with some major new venues like the Skydome and old venues being revived there's been a bit of an upsurge in the live music and club scene.
Although the city and surrounding areas are not overrun by a horde of Christian music acts, there are some significant things afoot. The influence of Nexus is an encouragement to other artists in the area and groups formed by musicians attending the school also play on the local scene at the Coliseum. As in any city, a lot of venues are on the look out for bands that can pull a crowd. Goldsmiths play regularly at the Flanker And Firkin, and have permission from the City Centre management to play open air gigs on some Saturdays in the Precinct. One local church, New Horizons, have a regular gig each week at Scholars night club. The Warwick Arts Centre, which is situated on Warwick University campus, hosts regular live music from a variety of mainstream acts and occasionally higher profile Christian artists play there like Martyn Joseph or The Blind Boys Of Alabama.
Continuing our series where we visit cities across Britain to discover what is happening on the Christian music scene, Mike Rimmer was sent to Coventry.
Background: Malcolm learned classical guitar when he was nine, achieved grade five and started work on grade seven before switching to tuba (!) at the age of 14. Achieving grade eight tuba, he played with numerous wind bands, brass bands and orchestras over the years. His guitar playing was resurrected in the summer of 2000 when he was asked to play in his local church worship group. He wasn't a Christian at this point, but enjoyed taking part. Gradually the songs became more than words and notes and he became a Christian in March of last year and began to write songs about the experience. He is still writing!
Facts: Malcolm recorded 'Fit For Worship' (2001), created on his PC to sell to friends to raise money for the church's youth worker. He continues to play acoustic guitar in the worship group at All Saints, Allesley and often leads worship. Malcolm is also starting to venture into pubs, clubs and music venues. He hasn't had a whole gig to himself yet, but has played floor spots at folk and acoustic clubs.
About His Ministry: "My ministry has two sides: One side is within the church, helping people to get close to God with music and worship. The other side of my ministry is to go out into the world and use my voice and guitar to sing about issues affecting the world, our country and individuals. My aim is to communicate the issues and offer a message of hope and justice. I use my own songs and covers, whichever is appropriate.
Style: Pop Rock
Line Up: Rob Halligan (guitar, vocals), Gav Callard (lead guitar), Hugh Matt (drums), Dave Iggy (bass), Lizzie Tom (vocals) BACKGROUND: Goldsmiths have been playing together for the last 10 years in various forms, initially leading the worship at their local Jesus Fellowship congregation in Coventry and Warwickshire. It was in 1998 that they first started to look at gigs outside of the regular church timetable.
Facts: The band have recorded two cassettes 'Hey God' (2000) and 'Beautiful' (2001) and recorded a debut CD 'Iknow Youknow' (1999) with producer Phil Goss. Since then they've recorded material for other
Jesus Fellowship CDs. Live work includes playing at main events including the Jesus Parties at the Sanctuary, Milton Keynes, a support slot for Coastal Dune at Aston University and a number of local pub gigs.
About Their Ministry: Rob Halligan: "The band are busy opening a new Jesus Centre in the city centre. It's going to provide drop in facilities, a cafe (bass player Iggy is the cafe manager!) training and other services for the marginalized as well as being a central venue for our church. The Goldsmiths event is an evangelistic gospel event that happens every six to eight weeks. It includes Goldsmiths (the band) and a drama team that demonstrate the Gospel in all sorts of ways. The vision is that we take church to where people are and not just wait for people to turn up."
Style: Roots/Pop Rock
Background: Rob has been part of the music scene in his church since 1988, writing songs and being part of the main church musicians in Northampton. They've recorded a number of CDs and played and hosted events at Wembley, the Manchester Apollo, Sheffield City Hall and other main venues in the UK. He also started busking because it was a great way to meet people and tell them about Jesus. In 1997 he moved to Warwickshire where he joined the local music scene and helped form Goldsmiths. Tragically Rob's father was killed in the attacks on the World Trade Centre last year and in response he organised Electric Raiser, a gig featuring five bands; local bands Myst and Purple Gang and Christian acts Riverdeep and Supervision. Rob performed with a band from Nexus. The night raised around £500 for the British Red Cross Afghan Appeal.
Facts: Rob has played on the following Jesus Fellowship releases: 'Songs Of The Jesus Revolution1 (1994), 'On The Move1 (1995), 'Generation J' (1996) and 'Dare To Be1 (2001). Rob is currently recording with Nexus and should have a CD out in the summer. Since September 11th last year, he has been in the local media a lot and that has continued. ITV filmed the Electric Raiser gig and it will be screened on Sept 11th this year.
About His Ministry: "I'm very much involved in all that our church is doing with the Jesus Centre and Goldsmiths. Being directly affected by September 11th has opened a lot of doors in terms of ministry, especially reconciliation and the music and projects I'm producing at the moment reflect that. My vision is to see people that wouldn't normally go near a church find out about Jesus on their own ground. It's a real honor to see folks meet Jesus through what you do."
Style: Praise and Worship
Background: Originally from Trinidad in the West Indies, Lee has been singing since the age of 12. While studying at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma, he led a
worship team weekly for an outreach ministry to the city of Tulsa. Lee strikes a balance between the traditional and the modern mixes, inspiring older hymns with contemporary praise. In Trinidad, the USA and the UK he has ministered in song at several worship services. He explains, "I hate 'performances' and just enjoy ministering in song and touching hearts!"
Facts: Debut CD 'Deeper'(2001) was totally supported by Global Care - all the proceeds from the sale of the CD go to them. Currently Lee sings wherever he is invited in Coventry and worships at Walsgrave Baptist Church.
About His Ministry: "Even though I understand the question about ministry, I always struggle with this response - because I believe I am involved in ministry daily to my family, my wife Sonia and kids Kathryn and Daniel and Ryan. If I can impart to them the purpose of what I enjoy doing, not for monetary gain, but sharing and touching and changing lives in some way, then I have taught and shown them the true meaning of life and God's love!"
Style: Solo - Acoustic/Roots; Band - Pop Rock
Background: Based just outside Coventry in
Leamington Spa, Phil has been writing songs since he was a teenager in the 70s. He originally developed songwriting as part of a church outreach in a coffee bar. In the late '70s Phil formed a band True Vine before going solo and sometimes performing with his own band.
Facts: Phil is currently doing a mixture of things. With kids' music he led music at family worship services at Spring Harvest and has had a number of songs published in the Kids Source songbook. He is also developing songs for a new CD to be recorded later in the year.
Recordings include True Vine' (1979) with True Vine; 'Catch A Glimpse' (1984); 'Growing In You' (1987); 'Unspoken Words' (1989); The Price Of Love' (1995); '16 Of The Best' (1997); 'After The Dream' (1997); and 'Just As Much As Yesterday' (2000). Phil is currently involved with pub outreach doing his own material and cover versions. He plans to start work on a new solo CD later this year.
About His Ministry: The pub stuff is evangelistic but I've also found a ministry of reconciliation taking place where we meet the backslidden in pubs. One guy recently told me, 'I walked away from God years ago and now he's in my pub!' I don't do a great deal of worship except in my own church."
Style: Hip Hop/Reggae
Background: Preacha G (aka Josh Graham) began rapping in 1984 and worked as a hip hop/ragga DJ before getting saved in 1995. He started writing material about his faith and continued to do a lot of live work, mainly in the mainstream. He has appeared on Central TV series Soul Music, hosted by Apache Indian, and continues to work in youth clubs, schools and festivals.
Facts: Preacha G has plans to release debut single "Inhabitation" in 2002 and follow that with the release of his debut EP 'Devil's Mentality'. Currently, he is locked away in the studio continuing to write and record. Also has plans to record a music video later in the year.
About His Ministry: "I'm on fire! I want to help the person who is broken. I mainly work with youth in schools. I'm also a lay preacher and evangelist. I'm trying to get people to understand Jesus is the only way and he can make the difference. I want people to know him and his love and see that he's made the difference in my life and come to know the Lord."
Style: Heavy Rock with 1970s/early '80s sound.
Line Up: Pete Jennens (lead guitar, backing vocals), Andy Edwards (drums), Rob Jennens (bass guitar, keyboards, backing vocals), Graeme Leslie (lead vocals, guitar, keyboards)
Background: Formed back when the new wave of British heavy metal was the latest thing, Stairway originally appeared as part of a compilation album of British metal bands put out by Kingsway in 1991. The band played together for most of the '90s, mainly in the UK. In 1997, Stairway took a short break but are active again.
FACTS: The band are currently recording a third CD due for release, again on their own label, in May/June 2002. Previous releases are last Ship Home' (1992), a compilation released by Kingsway Music containing two Stairway tracks; 'No Rest: No Mercy' (1993) Kingsway Music; 'Bleeding Heart' (1999) and 'No Rest: No Mercy' re-issued in 2000 on own label.
About Their Ministry: Graeme Leslie: "We are not an evangelical band, yet minister through our work available on CD and via the Internet which is distributed worldwide in
places such as Japan, Malaysia, Brazil, America, etc, and through concerts that we occasionally perform. We feel God has called us to spread his word to folk who listen to heavy rock music and who would not necessarily get to hear his message in this genre."
Location: 2 Radford Road, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire CV31 1LX
Facts: The shop has been trading in Leamington Spa for 33 years and manager Graham Allen took it over in October 2001. It is going to be renamed Leamington Christian Resource Centre and the book and music range is slowly being extended. As well as Christian books and music the store also sells Fair Trade goods. Currently the shop stocks approximately 100 CD titles across a range of different styles. Worship music is the dominant seller. About The Ministry: Graham Allen: "A lot of customers are in ministry, church leaders and youth workers. We also want to help people who are in need. It's the same as any Christian bookshop - we try to help people out, especially when we get people who are trying to find truth."
Location: 7 Castle Street, Rugby, Warwickshire CV21 2TP
Facts: The shop is 25 years old and is independent and owned by a local church. Although medium sized, it offers a full range of items to provide for the Christian community in town including books, gifts, music and cards. The shop stocks approximately 250 CD titles. Praise and worship is the best seller including Delirious? and Yfriday, who recently played a concert locally.
About The Ministry: John Shaw (manager): "A lot of people just come in for a chat and need someone to talk to. The privilege of selling people a Bible is a ministry. It's a good way to spend their money!"
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