Nu Colours: Living on their knees

Tuesday 1st October 1996

Once a long, long time ago, they were Colors Of LCGC and recorded for a Swedish gospel label. Now they're NU COLOURS and record for Polydor. George Luke spoke to the sanctified R&B stars.

Continued from page 1

One of the band's more notable recent gigs was at one of the most depressing moments in English football history - the England/Germany Euro '96 semi-final. "I was more interested in the game, actually," says Lain. "No, not really. It was a pretty good experience; we were there to warm up the crowd and get people going before the match. It was a great opportunity to let our message be heard by the football-loving masses."

So, where did England go wrong? Lawrence offers his expert opinion: "What should have happened is we shouldn't have sung. They should've just got Lain and me to play for England - we'd have got through!"

Fazay chips in, "I wanted Germany to win." Er...why? "Because I'm from Wembley, and if England had won, the area would have been a mess!"

So far, things look promising for the new album. The first two singles, "Desire" and "Special Kind Of Lover" both made the top 40, with the Tip Sheet (the trade mag published by Jonathan King) reckoning the latter would be a smash hit. It's not the first time the outspoken Mr King has predicted big things for a Nu Colours song; at the 1995 MIDEM music industry conference he told delegates that Elizabeth Troy's jungle cover of "Greater Love" would be Britain's first jungle Number One (okay, so he isn't always right).

Fazay remembers the jungle record well. "When it was originally done, they came to Nu Colours first," she recalls. "They took the original and did a jungle mix. If I remember well, they de-tuned my voice -they took it lower and it was like, (attempts bass voice) 'it's'taken some time...' - like a man's voice.

"That wasn't a problem, but we were focusing on the new album so we didn't really want to go there because we couldn't promote it even if we'd done it, and that wasn't the direction we were taking. At the end of the day, it's a good, strong song; we wrote it, so it's done well for us."

In more ways than one, it appears. "It opened up doors to the younger kids in that market who didn't know Nu Colours, because whenever we'd sing it at our shows, they'd ask, 'Oh, is that you?' and we'd say, 'Yes, it's our original song.' So you know, God works in mysterious ways."

By now, long term fans must have noticed that Fay Simpson's name has acquired a couple of extra letters. What gives? "My original name is Faith, so Fay isn't really my name," she explains. "I'd wanted to go out as Faith, but there's a singer called Faith already. So I decided to change my name once and for all, and call myself Fazay (faissez), which comes from 'faire', which means 'doing' in French. It reflects me; it's a happy name, and every time people say my name, it sounds like they're happy - Fazay!"

Recording 'Nu Colours' was not without its problems. "In total, the album took 18 months to two years, but if you were to condense it all, it'd probably have taken six months," explains Priscilla. "When we started the album it was very hard finding songs, because there aren't a lot of gospel songwriters out there that we know," Fazay continued. "Quite a few writers were thrown at us; every one had a different opinion of what was right for Nu Colours. We then thought we'd write our own tunes and meet producers who would come to us, rather than the other way round. From then, everything started to come together."

"While we were recording the song 'I Pray', it was a very emotional time for us and we actually felt the emotion and the anointing whilst we were singing it," says Priscilla. "We know that it's going to touch people when they hear it."

Which, in Lain's opinion, is all that matters. "I was watching a TV show the other day and an established member of the gospel fraternity was saying that if the music doesn't touch you; if it doesn't move you -if it doesn't heal your broken heart, take you through the low times, or even help during the high times, then it's not gospel music. And basically, that's what our music's about. We like to touch people; it doesn't matter about whether it's traditional, contemporary, rock, soul or indie - if it has a message of good news and it's touching people's lives, it's gospel."

"On the album, we have all those ingredients to offer," Priscilla continues. "If you need healing, or a word of wisdom or encouragement, it's all there. And it is because we live our lives as Christians and write songs out of our own experience."

If there's such a thing as a formula for the perfect gospel song, Priscilla might have it - or come very close - and it's this: "Have a strong song and keep it simple, because you want to reach everyone; the layman on the road; the children; simple but effective - that's what you've got to be. People will go away and read the song lyrics and talk about them and it will mean something to their lives." 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

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