Tony Cummings quizzed Karl "Nova" Njoku of R&B and hip-hop gospel team GK REAL
More and more British-based gospel groups are making it onto CD though, it has to be said, many also seem to disappear after their debut album (where are you now True Solace, Chorale, Global Zamar?). One group who seem to have a better chance than most to stay around for the "difficult second album" are London-based six-piece GK Real. Their debut 'It's All About You', distributed by Spirit Music, has picked up plenty of plaudits from the critics and its appealing mix of R&B, hip-hop, traditional gospel all served with a hint of Nigerian passion stands up well against the big budget American gospel offerings. In fact, it was produced by an experienced mainstream producer Emmanuel Edwards who is one of the members of GK Real. Band member Karl "Nova" Njoku explained how the group came about.
"Emmanuel was contracted to Universal Records as a producer, producing for the likes of Another Level, Misteeq and Jamelia. He grew dissatisfied and had a vision to make an impact with gospel music. He formed independent label, Rockhill Entertainment (the same outfit who produced 'Seasons And Times' for Margaret Nana Tandoh). Emmanuel approached each of us, Gozi 'Gozonkeys' Okogwu, Remmie Odumesi, Ayodele Ajana, Lanre Fajumo and myself, and asked if we would like to be part of a gospel project. We were (and still are) part of the House On The Rock's City Mass Choir. Gozi and Emmanuel were part of the church band and the rest of us were worship leaders."
Nova continued his potted history of GK Real: "We all started writing together in December 2002. "It took about nine months to record 'It's All About You'. We recorded the studio part of the album in Rockhill Studios which was at Peckham at that time. The live part was recorded at House On The Rock in Wembley and finished off at Rockhill Studios. At the start we didn't have a name for the band. One day we were in the studio and Remmie was doodling on paper and playing with our initials and came up with GK Real and I just came out with 'God's Kingdom is Real" and it stuck."
The group are much, much more than a product of the studio. Said Nova, "GK Real have played a lot of gigs since we came out. From the Hard Rock Café in London to Jesus House For The Nations in Washington DC all the way back to small churches in London as well as mega-churches. We have even performed at Holloway Prison! We have gigged in Liverpool Cathedral (that was great!). And we're about to do the Festival Of Life at the Excel Exhibition Centre in November and in December we are going to our home nation Nigeria to gig at the biggest gathering of people! It's called the Holy Ghost night!"
Already GK Real are cementing plans for the future. "We will probably release a live DVD and record some music videos so that we can properly contend in the urban marketplace with the secular artists! We want to spread the Gospel through our inspirational and heartfelt music! Also each of us is very creative and have a lot of projects in the pipe-line. Also expect our second album next year by God's grace. We just want to keep creating lots of crossrhythms (pun intended!) and keep making waves for the Kingdom of God!"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.