THE JORDAN FAMILY are a Christian family featured on a TV documentary who now have their debut single out. Hughie Lawrence reports.
Those of you who thought it was only our American cousins who could produce gospel family dynasties (ala Winans) are going to have to rethink their perspective. The Jordan Family from London's South Norwood have emerged to become major players in Britain's grassroots gospel scene and when I tell you that as well as Clint, Desiree, Clinton, Leon and 11-year-old Eugine, there are another FIVE Jordans at home, you can see that there's clearly much more to come. The five eldest members of The Jordan Family, whose single "Pass The Love" came out recently and picked up a fair amount of airplay, are no strangers to the gospel scene. They are all members of the London Community Gospel Choir. I spoke to Clint, the father of the family and the group leader. Intriguingly Clint is an Anglo Indian. He explains, "During the rule of the British Empire, Anglo Indians were born where the English, normally officers, intermarried with Indian people, hence the Anglo Indians. They were used as a ruling party of sorts. They mediated between the Indians and the English. So essentially they were looked down upon by the English and were despised by the Indians. So they had a hard time in their own country in India where I was born. Anglo Indians were classified as Indians by birth as opposed to Indian citizens. So we weren't attributed the full rights that an Indian citizen would have. And that was the case for many, many years. Both my father and my grandmother were Indian by birth as opposed to Indian by citizen. We were of Asian stock but also of English stock and our ways tend to be Westernised with strong Indian influences. Very outward going people, very happy-go-lucky people. I was raised as a Roman Catholic. I came to Britain in 1961 when I was about three years old. Unfortunately my mother and father broke up when I was in India. My father came to England with me. That was it really. He landed in England with a pound in his pocket and the rest is history as they say."
It was Clint's wife Desiree who was the big spiritual influence. "She was a Christian first and she brought me into the church. I was baptised in 1979. Before I came into the church I used to like Bob Marley. I used to run a sound system with a friend of mine. We grew up in Brixton. I became interested in gospel music, the old time songs."
When I ask how he came to join LCGC Clint replies, "I tried joining them some years back but when I phoned up to get some information, the person I spoke to was supposed to send me some stuff but I never received it. So about four years or so passed and I saw an advert in The Voice (the black community newspaper) that simply said, "Committed Christians required to join gospel choir." At the time I was looking and wanted to belong to a gospel choir. I phoned and there was Bazil Meade's dulcit tones on the other end so I went along for an audition and that was it really. By the skin of my teeth, he tells me sometimes. I was the first to get involved with LCGC. Then after myself came my wife and then the eldest children came after that."
Clint continues, "When I first joined the choir I was happy and contented, doing what I did with the choir. I was very proud. I am still a member and a still very proud belonging to them because I think they do a tremendous work. Part of the work they do nobody ever hears of. It's unbelievable, the stuff that they do."
His years with LCGC have brought Clint plenty of colourful memories, particularly their tour of Morocco. "LCGC were I think the first UK choir that went to a Muslim country. The British Council were integral in promoting LCGC because of the positive nature of the choir. LCGC are not frightened to go anywhere the Lord would take them. Their roots are strong, they're committed therefore the bonding within the choir is also very strong and we all stick together. As you know the choir is made up of different denominations of Christianity and sometimes there may be conflicts in doctrine or whatever the case might be. But by and large as Christians we put these differences aside and our common cause is the ministering of the Gospel. There's a tremendous unity within LCGC."
Clint remembers the early days of The Jordan Family, a decade ago, when they sang at a little church in Brixton. "The response was just so overwhelming that we thought to ourselves, 'Oh, that was interesting, maybe we should do a bit more.' But you know time went by and I got involved with LCGC and we didn't really pursue it seriously. We carried on doing what we did in our church and stuff like that. Eventually we did a concert at The Jazz Cafe in London and we were on the bill with high profile artists. The Wades were there and Nu Colours. We got to squeeze in, as it were. Once again we sang and did our best, and again the audience just reacted to us really, really well. Afterwards we sat down and said. Maybe there is something in this, maybe God wants us to be doing something more. Sadly though, my father contracted cancer and that put things on hold until he passed away. The beginning of "97 was when we really started putting our songs together and getting our act together as it were. That was a really good year for us. We did an awful lot during the course of that year. We started off by appearing on BBC 2 in January and then we entered a talent contest called Sunday Selection. We got profile because of that. We also supported Commissioned when they came over here. That was really good for us because that was filmed by Channel 5. They liked what they saw of our family and they approached us and did a half hour documentary, just on family life. It was called My Sunday and was like a day in the life of the Jordan Family, which happened to be a Sunday, which meant us getting up and going to church, Sunday dinner, stuff like that. They did a brilliant job of that and we just carried on throughout the year. People were getting more and more aware of us."
Rather than wait for a record company to show interest, they started their own record company, Family Records, and put out their "Pass The Love" single. "We said we're not going to wait around, God has given us a talent, we're not going to wait to be discovered as it were, we're just going to slowly build upon what we're doing, brick by brick and let God have his way. So we did the CD ourselves, we financed it ourselves; we produced it ourselves with the help of Noel Robinson who's been very instrumental and very supportive. The songs we wrote ourselves. It's out there now and since December we've been selling the CD mostly off our own backs. Nobody has taken us up; we haven't got a distributor as such. We had I (XX) CDs pressed and within the space of two months we covered the cost of pressing. So we are proud of what we are doing and what we've achieved so far. But we know there's an awful lot more to be done and more to achieve. We believe that God has given us something and we've been putting our faith into action by actually going out and doing things. I think that at the end of the day if you start knocking, doors do definitely open and although we haven't achieved the level of what we would like to achieve, we're being led by what God is seeing fit to put before us. You know, if we covered in two months the cost of our pressing, not necessarily the whole production costs of the CD, but the pressing cost, that's a landmark to say that's behind us, we've now got to go and sell some more CDs. Then we'll look at repressing and distribution. So we are definitely trusting in God and he's come up trumps."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.