Tony Cummings reports on GOSPEL ROCK which seeks to reveal talents and change lives
Gospel music talent searches have been going on for many a long year and ever since mainstream TV began broadcasting such initiatives as Pop Idol, X Factor and their ilk, the Church has enthusiastically supported the search to find fresh musical talent. What sets Gospel Rock apart from other Christian talent searches is that since 2009 the Gospel Rock events have established themselves as fixtures on the British Christian music scene and have also shown a heartening disregard for the "gospel" (ie, black church) and CCM (ie, white church) divide which continues to influence the thinking and practice of other UK Church initiatives. In the words of pastor and founder of Gospel Rock, Joseph Belibi, "We believe Christianity is not black or white, it is multicultural and we want to bring down those barriers and unite the body for the glory of God."
Joseph's viewpoint is born out by the past winners. In 2010, London-based Oyeyemi Oyetunji and Liverpool-based duo DaViglio were the winners while the overall winner for 2011's Gospel Rock was Durham-based pop singer Nikki Hopkins.
The structure of Gospel Rock is that auditions are held in different parts of the country - this year in Edinburgh on 5th May, Stoke-on-Trent on 19th May, Coventry on 6th June and London, date to be confirmed.
Pastor Joseph spoke about what kind of talent Gospel Rock was looking for. "Whatever their style of music - pop, R&B, hip-hop, balladry, afro - we are looking for talented people with a heart aflame for Christ. By raising the profile of Christian music and helping new talent to get training, recognition will surely follow, that they may promote the Gospel of Jesus Christ without compromise through their music, and inspire change in people's lives. It is in my heart that we should inspire a change in people's lives; be a recognised voice in gospel music; bring a fresh perspective within the music industry with new voices; and reach ordinary gospel artists to develop their God-given talent freely without compromise."
The artists who get through the auditioning process will be given a chance to perform at Gospel Rock semi-final concerts at various locations with the category winners going forward to a Grand Final, to be held in London. The winners will receive a contract to record a download single (available through iTunes) along with 100 physical copies of the single plus the opportunity to participate in a UK tour.
Pastor Joseph is no newcomer to music ministry. For five years he led a discipleship house group with Morris Barratt at Barratt Ministries and was a pastor for a local church in Oldham for three years. Now he works full time with Gospel Rock, describing his work as "mentoring artists, praying with them and liaising with their pastors for accountability and working with all the churches together for the glory of God." He added, "We reveal talents in order to change the lives first of the artists and those they come in contact with."
For more information on auditions, etc, visit www.gospelrock.co.uk.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.