Karl Allison went to investigate reggae gospel pioneers Ben Okafor, Rupie Edwards, Ann Swinton, Liquid Light, David Smith, The Channels and Dave Armstrong.
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Dave Anthony became a Christian on 27th September 1992. It was the first thing he told me. He was playing ragga before his conversion and he was known as Watchman. Now he plays ragga and is known as Watchman For Christ.
"The definition of what I do is probably 'ragga-gospel'. Before I got saved I was a pretty serious boxer and I was really into my music. I'd buy reggae albums every week. When I got saved, I gave away all my records. There was just something in me that said 'Get rid of them.' I gave every single one of them away.
"For quite a few months I wouldn't even let anyone play reggae music in my car. The only music I played was country and western style gospel, 'cos that's all I really knew as gospel. Christians gave me soul artists' albums and I refused to play them. I told them it wasn't gospel. But then the Lord started ministering to me. He told me to use music in the reggae form and I still tried to reject it as not of God. It took a long time before I did anything, but eventually I realised I had to be obedient to God's calling. My music is now being used for the glory of God."
Dave is now gigging regularly at the Wades' church in South London, and is also getting involved in the same prison ministry as Ann Swinton. He's currently trying to lay down the tracks for his first album. He's getting help from BGR (Gifted Brothers On The Rampage), a new team of streetwise Christian rappers currently launching a Soul-To-Soul type umbrella management for happening Christian artists.
Something is definitely happening out there. Young men giving their
lives to Christ and playing gospel ragga in the
nightclubs and the prisons. Praise God! And not only that, but Dave, the newest convert, is the one artist who says he's had no opposition to his music from the church. Brothers and sisters, we may be progressing.
A final blast from the Watchman: "I will be a light to those in the darkness. When I perform, they can see that I'm 100 per cent for God. I'm not watering down the Gospel. I'm not going to give them what they want to hear, I'm going to give them what they need to hear."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.