Tony Cummings reports on the London-based aggregation UP Project, also known as URBAN PRAISE PROJECT
Rather confusingly, the sleeve of the EP 'Sacred//Secular' shows it as by UP Project, though most of their ever-growing legion of supporters as well as iTunes are calling them Urban Praise Project. But there's nothing else confusing about the group and it's no wonder that their song "Give It All" is a hit on Cross Rhythms radio, and if you've been to Spring Harvest, New Wine or one of the dozens of gigs these exciting London-based urban musicianaries have played, you'll know these guys take no prisoners in their live sets.
These guys? The UP Project line-up includes vocalists Mark Tate, Dayna Springer Clarke, Carrie-Anne Golt and Joanna Tate, and keys player Mike Tan, percussionist and hype-man Rich Herbert, guitarist Tom Snell, bassist Simon Bower and drummer Alex Iddin. The Project officially formed in 2016 with the stated aim of creating "a vibrant sound and experience designed to make you jump, dance and sing your heart out to the Lord." Their website explains how they have crafted their sound at various Christian conferences and events that have included the Hungry and Urban Impact venues at New Wine and The Pursuit 24/7 Worship Gathering. They're experienced in leading both "standard" times of worship, as well as specific praise party evenings. As they say, "Alongside the mashups, we will continue to produce and record our own material."
So far, their efforts have resulted in the storming 'Sacred//Secular' EP, which was produced by Mark Tate, Alex Iddin, Tom Mills, Steve Harding, Jimmy James and Alex Hart, with James and Hart doing the mixing. It's a propulsive, pulsating five-song delight with "You've Got My Hallelujah" featuring rapper Faith Child, another track guaranteed to get any crowd dancing. No wonder Carl Beech, the UK Director of Manchester's hugely influential organisation The Message Trust, wrote, "Every so often something gets unleashed into the worship scene that immediately grabs your attention. UP Project is just that. These guys are taking festivals and events by storm. A full on party vibe fused with praise - I love it!"
The band themselves commented on the theme of their 'Sacred//Secular' debut. "It's about breaking down the walls and barriers of worship. Finding a new voice and style in our sung worship. It's about breaking down the sacred and secular divide in the way that the Church sounds and expresses itself. It's time for a change."
The Chief Executive of Urban Saints, Matt Summerfield, has the final word. "The first time I experienced the UP Project (and it is an experience) I knew that God was birthing something incredibly fresh, exciting and absolutely engaging for young people. But looking beyond the brilliant music and the mash-ups is a bunch of guys who love Jesus and are passionate about others connecting with him in heart-felt worship."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.