Asia Worships

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Wednesday 1st December 1993

Album of worship for Asian Christians recorded by various artists including Nick Beggs

A PIONEERING album which fuses Asian and Western worship music has just been released. A number of well known Christian music figures including Kevin Prosch, Nick Beggs, David Fitzgerald, Bryn Haworth, David Grant and Terl Bryant have joined forces with a bevy of Asian musicians and singers to record the album Asia Worships', which has been co-ordinated by South Asian Concern and released through Kingsway.

The 'Asia Worships' project has attracted immediate media attention. BBC Television are to feature a live rendition of the album at Streatham Baptist Church on a programme on the theme of multi-cultural worship in the This Is The Day' series. It will be broadcast on 5th December.

Ram Gidoomal (pictured), a Hindu convert, of the Asia Worships project and chairman of South Asian Concern reports that the album has created an unprecedented interest in the USA. He told Cross Rhythms, "I was in Chicago a few weeks ago speaking to 100 North American Asian Christians. When the radio stations heard the test cassette they couldn't wait for the CD to be released, they just loved it so much that they kept copies which have now been played in Washington, New York, Chicago, Altanta and in Canada."

The album was conceived as a means of giving Asian Christians in Britain a culturally relevant worship resource. Explained Gidoomal, "I found that many young Asian Christians were becoming disillusioned and leaving the Church because they felt completely isolated, no longer Hindu but still Asian, not English or Western. I had to do something to help. This is how I came up with the idea of developing worship that Asian Christians could relate to. I shared my idea with June George, a South Indian, and a family called Ambrose from the Church of Pakistanies who were several generations Christians, who have helped to develop the idea."

The forerunner album to 'Asia Worships' was 'Songs Of The Kingdom', a low budget recording. Response to that album was so encouraging that, with the backing of Kingsway Records, work on one of the most ambitious multi-cultural worship projects ever conceived was begun. The tracks featuring its unique blend of British, American, Indian and Pakistani musicians were recorded and mixed at West Park Studios, Littlehampton. Then producer Martin Smith took the backing tapes to London's Kensington Temple where a choir of Asian Christians from all over Britain had assembled. Martin Smith told Cross Rhythms, "It was an amazing day, quite unforgettable. You almost had to pinch yourself to see you weren't dreaming. There were Asian Christians not just from charismatic Churches but from orthodox ones as well." The songs recorded are a mixture of Eastern and Western songs. Says Smith, "The biggest challenge was finding Asian songs that the Western ear could relate to. And also to get material that would appeal to all the generations of the Asian community, from those Asian teenagers born in Britain who've assimilated British and American youth culture through to elderly Asians who remember traditional indigenous music. The early indicators are that we've succeeded."

Ram Gidoomal believes that the cultural significance of 'Asia Worships' cannot be underestimated. He said, "When I first heard the sitar being used to worship Jesus Christ my hair stood on end and my hands tingled. It was drawing out the worship in me, in fact, it had this effect on all of us. It was like our natural inbred feelings were being released by hearing sounds we have been brought up to relate to. "It can be quoted that 'revival is always accompanied by new music'. I believe that revival is coming in England. There are 1.5 million Asians and 50 per cent of the children born here are in two cultures -Indian and Western. Through this music both parts of their culture are being reached. The album is of a very high quality. Everyone who has heard it loves the album, my niece can't go to sleep without listening to it and my brother listens to it all the time. These are Hindus and Muslims listening to songs about Jesus. The power of new music is unquestionable. I'm so excited about what God is doing."

As we went to press, a plan was announced to take the 'Asia Worships' project to Delhi for a worship conference for Indian musicians. 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.

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