Celebrating UKGospel

Celebrating #UKGospel: launching the Ladies Edition (Part 1)

I cannot tell you how SO, SO, SO PROUD I am of every single lady on this list!!!!

Story time: like many of the exciting ideas I get, this one came completely out of the blue and hit me like a ton of bricks

It went like this: last week as I was planning the relaunch UKGospel.com version 3, I thought I’d create a section dedicated to showcasing diverse UK Gospel talent in a very simple but effective way: make it part showcase, part profile, all celebration.

Atypical

It’ll be wide-ranging and slightly atypical, expanding the type of recipient we’re used to seeing in editorials of this kind.

How about we showcase producers? Or song writers? What about the graphic designers that have given us distinctive visual branding over the years, on everything from websites to flyers to CD covers.

No props

Anyway, you get the idea: the concept has legs. And scope. I decided to start the series with ‘Celebrating the Ladies of UKGospel’

  • There were quite a few reasons for that, not least because I think ladies in Gospel still don’t get the props they deserve
  • All this happened last weekend. I went ahead and made arrangements for the feature’s special edition graphic to be created
  • Deciding who should feature in the first ladies one was always going to be a difficult, as there are so many great ladies doing amazing things
  • However: it also made my decision to have multiple Ladies Edition entries a simple one – there was no way I could do just the one.

Showcase talent

With that settled I decided on the format:

  • Showcase the range of talent we have across a number of categories: from fresh, just-out-of-the-gate artists to those who’ve been incredibly steadfast with an unbelievable track record.
  • I wanted to represent the broad spectrum of the UK Gospel sound, too: from RnB to Praise & Worship, Afrobeats to Soul and Pop and everything in-between.

Pressure: International Women’s Day

  • Then on Thursday I found out it was International Women’s Day on the 8th March 2021. What better way to launch this series than to publish it on International Women’s Day..?
  • Except that gave me only 24 hours to contact all the ladies, explain the concept, send them the questions, get their answers back and then spend the weekend putting it all together.
  • The pressure was on!

Here come the ladies…

This brings me full circle back to why I’m so proud of these women: every last one of them dug deep, went out of their way and honoured me with a very quick reply.

This went from a feature with a 2-week deadline to something that had to be turned around in 24 hours! Ladies: thank you again.

You’re going to see them all in a second, but I have to give a special shout out to the following intermediaries who made things happen: Teelow (for Rebkah), Uncle Charles (for Diana), and Chibuzo (for Rae Rae).

It’s past 3 am: welcome to International Women’s Day…

‘Celebrating UKGospel: the Ladies Edition – Part 1’

Hello, my name is: Lurine Cato

  • I am a: Gospel recording artist, multi-award winner, MBE recipient, a vocal coach and producer and singer-songwriter

  • I started doing this because: it was my calling. I’ve sang all my life from the age of 3 – I always sang in church

    It’s my calling from God to do this – I could have gone the other way, as I’ve had major record labels approach me many times to do other types of music, but I felt the call of God to do this more

  • Find me at: Lurine Cato on Instagram and check out my music on Spotify

  • Here’s a random fact about me: I’ll give you two – most Gospel singers sing for charity, that’s standard, but in June 2012 I jumped 15,000 feet out of a plane for charity – and I only had 15 minutes to prepare when everyone had months!!!

    Secondly, I’m the first female Gospel artist since 1922 to receive an MBE
  • Favourite song I wrote: I truly don’t have a favourite. I get moments when my songs get played constantly in my ears at home, but if I were to mention one, I’ll say ‘You Revive Me’, because of how that song came together – I wrote and co-produced it

    That song gave me a MOBO Award – most people have to have an album to be nominated; I had one song!
  • Favourite song I wish wrote: this is so not fair! There are so many songs I wish I wrote!

    The first one that comes to my head is Sinach’s ‘Way Maker’: I thought to myself “I could have written that – God, why didn’t you give me that song?! Why didn’t I hear it through the frequency? Did I miss it?” No, he gave it to Sinach! 😀

    And trust me, she did a great job with that song!
  • You’ll be my new best friend if: you think I’m funny! I could have been a stand-up comedienne!! 🤣🤣
  • The one thing I never get asked, but I want the world to know about me is: I get extremely shy, but then I know how to pretend I’m not shy because I’ll make my face look like ‘I’m enjoying myself and this is great, and I don’t feel awkward….’

    But inside I’m in a corner, screaming ‘get me out! Get me out!!!’ 😂
  • You can publish a story on any ONE topic very close to your heart on UKGospel.com. What is it? It’ll be a story about why Contemporary Christian (CCM) artists are separate from Gospel artists – why there’s such a separation and why don’t we ever come together in unity, and the reasons why it happens, and what we need to do to stop it from happening…

Hello, my name is: Michelle John

  • I am: an artist, vocal coach, mother, I’m a woman
  • I started doing this because: from when I was a baby, God gave me the gift of singing – it was not something I asked for, and through the journey of my life, doors and platforms opened up for me to sing, so I just don’t fight it

    And I use my gift as best as I can to encourage others, and to make people happy and to minister to people and give them some sense of hope and healing through the songs I sing
  • Favourite song I wrote: ‘Labels’. It talks about labels we all have. Some of them are labels people have put on us, some are labels we’ve earned, some are from how society sees us
  • Favourite song I wish wrote: ‘Indescribable’ by Chris Tomlin/Kierra Sheard, etc. I just love that. I wish I’d come up with that
  • You’ll be my new best friend if: you just pray for me. Just support me with your prayers. You might not understand what I’m doing or the direction that God is taking me

    You might not tick like on my post, yada yada yada, but if you just pray for me that God is guiding me, that I’m hearing from the Lord, then you’ll be my best friend
  • Everyone thinks I’m a… I guess the first word that comes to mind is ‘Diva’
  • But in actual fact I’m a… really lovely Diva – I’m like the girl next door Diva 🤣🤣

    I’m just a lovely girl with Diva sensibilities 🤣
  • The one thing I never get asked, but I want the world to know about me is: as a strong independent, confident woman in myself, I’m what’s known as ‘the strong friend’. So often, people don’t ask you if you’re okay

    That’s the one thing: people don’t often ask if you’re okay because they’re so used to you being strong, and being there for everyone else

    But what I want the world to know is that sometimes I need a hug, too!
  • You can publish a story on any ONE topic very close to your heart on UKGospel.com. What is it? I think the story for me would be about self-worth and self-value, especially where women are concerned in understanding who you are, and who God says you are

    We’re not what’s happened to us or the experiences that we’ve endured or come through, or escaped or survived.

    Even with the scars and the pain and the memories and the experiences, we are who God says we are, and we should model that, which is very close to my own heart and my own message.

Hello, my name is: Naffymar

  • I am an: Urban Gospel Musician
  • I started doing this because: I realised God gave me the gift of music to reach out to the lost and express his thoughts through me
  • Here’s a random fact about me: I love trying out new things. Hair, fashion and food
  • Favourite song I wrote: Walk With Me ft Aude-Carla
  • Favourite song I wish wrote: God like you by Calledoutmusic 
  • You’ll be my new best friend if: you’re full wisdom and have a great sense of humour
  • Everyone thinks I’m a…very outspoken person who doesn’t care about people’s opinions 
  • But in actual fact I… get quite shy sometimes, I just push it aside to do the Lord’s work
  • The one thing I never get asked, but I want the world to know about me is: I’d rather stay in my room than go out to be with friends. I love being in my own space!
  • You can publish a story on any ONE very important topic on UKGospel.com. What is it? “Jesus: The expert at turning a Nobody into somebody great”

Hello, my name is: Niiella

  • I am a: Gospel Musician, singer, vocal coach – to be honest, I wear different hats on different days, but those are the two main things that I do
  • I started doing this because: I felt like it was the least that I could do in return for God saving my life – saving me from being suicidal, from depression, saving me from myself

    I was so grateful when I saw how far I had come that the least I could do was give this back to God so that other people can be blessed
  • Here’s a random fact about me: I am 3/4 Ghanaian and 1/4 Nigerian. My grandmother on my father’s side is from the Yoruba tribe in Nigeria. Most people think I’m completely Ghanaian, but no, actually: I have something else in there… 😀
  • Favourite song I wrote: I have a lot of favourites, but my current one is ‘Stand with Me’, which is quite close to my heart. It says ‘when I’m alone, stand with me’ – that’s the long and short of the song, and I absolutely love it
  • Favourite song I wish wrote: It’s a song called ‘Out of Hiding’ by Steffany Gretzinger – there’s a version by Tye Tribbett. I love that song so much that I’m like ‘Oh – I wish I wrote that song…’. It’s still beautiful, though
  • You’ll be my new best friend if: you love to eat smoked salmon as much as I do. I am obsessed: smoked salmon with cream cheese and crackers and just a slither of avocado is… the bomb! 🤣
  • Everyone thinks I’m a… tough nut. Like I’m a tough person
  • But in actual fact I’m a… big softie on the inside. It just takes a while to get there sometimes, depending on who, and what, and where and how… But I really am a big softie
  • The one thing I never get asked, but I want the world to know about me is: well, it’s not that it never comes up, but I definitely think we can talk more about healing from trauma or things that have happened in our past that have made indentations on us that we may not necessarily be aware of

    It might not even be something drastic. Sometimes it just might be a moment in time that was very traumatic to us and to our experience of life, and everybody is able to heal from that, and it’s important for us to lean into pain and vulnerability to allow God to heal us and work on us – and I feel like that’s a subject a lot of us run away from a lot of the time.

    I’ve been though the process (and still going through the process in some ways) but it’s necessary, and you will love yourself for allowing yourself to go through the hard places…
  • You can publish a story on any ONE topic very close to your heart on UKGospel.com. What is it? A series of mini-stories from creatives:

    Musicians talking about a memory in time preferably from earlier in life/in their teens, that they believe impacted them or shaped them for the better and influenced their creativity

    It’ll be really interesting to get an insight into a creative’s life in a different way than we usually do…

Hello, my name is: Anu Omideyi

  • I am a: Singer Songwriter, Choir Director, Vocal Coach, Worship Leader
  • I started doing this because: I love God, music and ministry
  • Here’s a random fact about me: I love swimming and being in water
  • Favourite song I wrote: ‘Back To You’
  • Favourite song I wish wrote: This changes every month. At the moment it’s ‘Nothing Else’ by Cody Carnes
  • You’ll be my new best friend if: you take the time to try to get to know me rather than assuming you know who I am

    Also, if you buy me chocolate
  • Everyone thinks I’m: an extrovert
  • But in actual fact I’m: an introvert in the true sense of the word
  • The one thing I never get asked, but I want the world to know about me is: lol – I can’t answer this question as I’m actually a very private person
  • You can publish a story on any ONE very important topic on UKGospel.com. What is it? The use of gospel music to advocate for social justice, marginalised groups and victims/survivors of any kind

Hello, my name is: Asha Elia

  • I started doing this because: I saw there was a need for more kingdom music and I got tired of complaining to God about the lack. Eventually He just said ‘Hey, you’re right here, you can do it’.
  • Find me at: Asha Elia on Instagram and Twitter
  • Here’s a random fact about me: I’ve always loved to sketch
  • Favourite song I wrote: I change my mind about this every other month, but right now my favourite song is ‘Nights Like This’
  • Favourite song I wish wrote: ‘Monica’ by ItsTaylorMade – that one is a banger!
  • You’ll be my new best friend if: you’re passionate about healing and psychology, and just understanding ourselves better
  • Everyone thinks I’m a… confident person
  • But in actual fact I’m… Really shy
  • The one thing I never get asked, but I want the world to know about me is: more about my personal life further than just the music, just because I’d love to be a lot more transparent, but God’s definitely helping me in that area
  • You can publish a story on any ONE topic very close to your heart on UKGospel.com. What is it? It would be about healthy relationships – healing.

Hello, my name is: Becca Folkes

  • I am a: singer-songwriter and content creator from the UK
  • I started doing this because: God called me to it. Plain and simple. I wanted to be an actress or athlete, but God led me in this direction
  • Find me at: @Becca_FolkesUK on Instagram and Twitter)
  • Here’s a random fact about me: I love spicy food, to the point where I add spice to almost every dish I eat if it’s accessible
  • Favourite song I wrote: I loved writing ‘Rhythm’. I think it was definitely outside the box in terms of how I approached the topic and it was my first attempt at a house record, so I 100% enjoyed it
  • Favourite song I wish wrote: I definitely wish I was in the room while ‘Loved By You’ was being written by Mali Music. I love that song so much and it’s one of a large list of songs I wish I took part it
  • You’ll be my new best friend if: you buy me a large black coconut Yankee Candle!!
  • Everyone thinks I’m a… super bubbly/loud person all the time
  • But in actual fact I’m… pretty reserved most of the time
  • The one thing I never get asked, but I want the world to know about me is: I love Bali… But I’d need them to ask me how much their tickets cost so they can buy it for me so I can go! LOL
  • You can publish a story on any ONE topic very close to your heart on UKGospel.com. What is it?: The story I would post would be on the culture of silence in the Black Church.

    Through ministry and sharing my testimony of surviving childhood molestation, I’ve been blessed to meet so many people

    But the heartbreaking part is that so many can relate to or share my testimony and that grieves my heart. I’d like to have open and honest dialogues with leaders and survivors for all UKGospel.com subscribers to read and be educated by.

Hello, my name is: Diana Hamilton

  • I am a: Worship Leader, songwriter, recording artiste
  • I started doing this because: at an early age I saw and watched my dad who was a pastor and worship leader lead the congregation and eventually found that this brought me Joy and fulfilment too
  • Favourite song I wrote: Adom
  • Favourite song I wish wrote: How Sweet the Name of Jesus sounds
  • You’ll be my new best friend if: you love to worship and follow on my insta or watch my video on YouTube
  • Everyone thinks I’m an… Extrovert
  • But in actual fact… sometimes I want to be on my own
  • The one thing I never get asked, but I want the world to know about me is: I am veeery good cook
  • You can publish a story on any ONE very important topic on UKGospel.com. What is it? How African Gospel musicians can make an impact with their ministries in the UK and beyond

Hello, my name is: Rae Rae

  • I am a: Christian Music Artist
  • I started doing this because: I’ve always loved singing. I’ve been part of choirs, and I just really feel like God wants me to use my voice for Him

    I’ve come to know that music is such a powerful tool and I’ve always wanted to be able to create songs that will impact people in such a positive way
  • Find me at: Miss Rae Official on Instagram and Facebook
  • Here’s a random fact about me: when nobody’s looking, I like to dance in front of the mirror.

    When I was younger I used to watch a lot of dance films, so sometimes I just go back to that place where I feel I’m such a great dancer. I can dance, but I feel like I’ve got all the moves like in the movies! 🤣
  • Favourite song I wrote: that will be ‘Lay it Down’. I feel like it’s such an honest song that talks about being worried about the future and being open about how one feels, especially when things are uncertain

    It’s a song I relly love – when I got feedback from it, people would say it was very relatable

  • Favourite song I wish wrote: at the moment it’ll be ‘People’ by Jonathan McReynolds.

    I feel like it’s a song that could have been written 10 years ago, because it’s a topic that’s so relevant.

    There are topics you talk about in conversation, but you wouldn’t think it could be put so well in a song and Jonathan McReynolds does such a great job, but doesn’t exempt himself in the storyline.
  • You’ll be my new best friend if: you’re happy for me, and you want to see me succeed. You’re fun and can make me egusi soup (it’s a Nigerian dish) – surprise me and bring it to my house! 🤣
  • Everyone thinks I’m… very confident when I’m on stage and performing
  • But in actual fact… just before I go on stage, I always need to go to the toilet because of nerves! 🤣
  • The one thing I never get asked, but I want the world to know about me is: one day I’d love to sing the national anthem, whether that’s in the UK or Nigeria – I think that’ll be amazing! I’ve never been asked that but I want the world to know that. That’s one of the things I’d like to do in my lifetime

Hello, my name is: Sadé Eboné

  • I am a: Singer-Songwriter
  • I started doing this because: I know that it is God-given, he could of given these songs to anyone else but instead he gave them to me. For that reason, I will serve the gift giver with the gifts He gave to me
  • Here’s a random fact about me: According to some of my family members, I have a tendency to sing in my sleep!
  • Favourite song I wrote: ‘Love Don’t Mark Skin’, a song about domestic abuse
  • Favourite song I wish I wrote: ‘More Than a Woman’ – Gregory Porter. One of the best singers and writers, there has ever been!!!
  • You’ll be my new best friend if: you are a Nottingham Forest fan hahaha
  • Everyone thinks I’m… of Nigerian heritage
  • But in actual fact I’m… of Jamaican and Kittian heritage
  • The one thing I never get asked, but I want the world to know about me is: That I’m a big fan of Karaoke!!!! I Love singing louddddd, it’s the best thing!!
  • You can publish a story on any ONE topic very close to your heart on UKGospel.com. What is it? My story would be about people that have experienced church hurt and how they find their way back to God

Hello, my name is: Sarah Teibo

  • I am a: Worship leader singer songwriter and recording Artist
  • I started doing this because: I felt strongly that I had something to share with the world and there is no better time than now to do it
  • Here’s a random fact about me: I wrote a book called ‘Sex Interrupted’
  • Favourite song I wrote: ‘Make You Smile’
  • Favourite song I wish wrote: ‘Holy Ghost’ by Kim Burrell
  • You’ll be my new best friend if: You understood the complexities of dealing with an extroverted introvert
  • Everyone thinks I’m a… workaholic
  • But in actual fact I’m a… Productivity-holic
  • The one thing I never get asked, but I want the world to know about me is: Can I ride a bike? No, I can’t ride a bike to save my life. And I’m ashamed of it
  • You can publish a story on any ONE very important topic on UKGospel.com. What is it?
  • Breaking barriers as a female gospel/Christian artist

Hello, my name is: Rebekah Young

  • I am a: Singer
  • I started doing this because: I love singing and I truly truly believe God has gifted me to share the message of Jesus and to enjoy music in all of its fullness
  • Find me at: ‘Rebekah Young’ Spotify/Apple Music and @rbkhyng on Instagram
  • Here’s a random fact about me: I am 1 of 7 children in my family and I have an identical twin sister
  • Favourite song I wrote: Has to be ‘Tender’, I remember I was on the bus in Manchester when the words came to mind
  • Favourite song I wish wrote: So many to pick from! But at the moment ‘Cranes In The Sky’, Solange
  • You’ll be my new best friend if: you vibe with Lauryn Hill/Amy Winehouse/Erykah Badu, only the best
  • Everyone thinks I’m a… Geordie
  • But in actual fact I’m a… Boro lass
  • The one thing I never get asked, but I want the world to know about me is: alongside my music I’m currently working as a youth worker and really believe God has put the next generation on my heart since I moved to the capital!
  • You can publish a story on any ONE topic that’s important to you on UKGospel.com. What is it? How important it is that Jesus is the centre of all our outworks; music, breathing, work, social life and everything in between

Hello, my name is: Sharyn (Pronounced Sh-reen)

  • I am a: Gospel R&B Singer-songwriter
  • I started doing this because: I felt that there was a gap in the market here in the U.K, so I decided to create the sound I wanted to hear.
  • Find me at: @SharynOfficial on Twitter and Sharyn on Apple Music (my favourite music platform)
  • Here’s a random fact about me: I released my first single when I was 9 years old, but you won’t find it anywhere on the internet.
  • Favourite song I wrote: Such a difficult question, but ‘Broken Hearts’. It’s a song that was made for the noughties and makes me want to get up and dance.

    At the same time, it’s a very vulnerable and honest track, that asks an honest question that many people have, where and who do we turn to amidst our heartbreak and disappointment.

    I wrote this song in a pitch black room in Uganda and I just poured my heart out to God.
  • Favourite song I wish wrote: ‘New Creation’ by Junior Garr. One of my favourite songs of all time, simple lyrics filled with so much truth.
  • You’ll be my new best friend if: You love to eat. Brunch is my favourite meal of the day and so you must be ready to meet at 12pm sharp!
  • Everyone thinks I’m… an extrovert
  • But in actual fact I’m an extrovert… LOL. I enjoy love spending time with people.
  • The one thing I never get asked, but I want the world to know about me is: I make some mean chicken wings! Fried, grilled, barbecue’d. Fantastic stuff.

Hello, my name is: Victoria Tunde

  • I am a: singer/songwriter and Gospel artist. As you can tell from my name, I’m of Nigerian heritage
  • I started doing this because: I’ve always had a passion for music – from a very young age I used to sing and be in plays, so when I found Christ it felt natural (especially as I have always written) that I would write and minister Gospel music
  • Favourite song I wrote: ‘Change Me’, that came out in December 2018.
    I just love that song because it really tells the story about my life and where God has brought me from
  • Favourite song I wish wrote: ‘So Will I’ – me and I’m sure a billion other people wish they wrote that.
  • You’ll be my new best friend if: you are kind, considerate, loving, not self-centred and a God-fearing human being.
  • Everyone thinks I’m a… snob. I’ve had really good friends that have given me feedback and they say I’m a snob
  • But in actual fact I’m a… I’m just really shy. I’m an introvert – an extreme introvert.

    I might be in the room with a thousand people and I’ll just sit there on my own, not because I’m snobbing everyone but because I don’t know where to begin the first conversation
  • The one thing I never get asked, but I want the world to know about me is: I love to beatbox 🤣

    I make really weird percussion noises and I’ve done it a few times and people are thinking ‘is there any instrument playing?’ and I tell them it’s me.

    I sometimes do it if I’m daydreaming about something…
  • You can publish a story on any ONE topic very close to your heart on UKGospel.com. What is it?

    I think it’ll be about money, especially in this pandemic season.

    Talking about money can sometimes be seen as dirty by people or something that falls out of the sky.

    I’d love to publish a story about becoming financially free, financially savvy and a good steward, because the bible talks about the talents, so becoming a good steward of the talents and therefore the money that comes with the talents that have been bestowed on to every single one of us.

    So, who’s hiding it and burying it, and hoping that no one gets to judge them about it, and who’s investing it, and building on it and therefore is a good steward of the gift of funds placed in our hands

    That’ll be a great subject for me, especially with my financial services background.

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