ON THE UP AND UP: Witness
SOCIAL MEDIA has given us the type of insight into the lives of our friends and acquaintances we have never experienced before.
This was the case for me when I logged onto Facebook on April 3 and read a revealing post from West Midlands based social justice artist, personal development coach and business development professional Witness, also known as Adrian Burke.
In the 90s and early noughties, Witness made his name performing reggae gospel. He became a social justice artist to reach a wider audience and became known for raising awareness of key social issues. He even headlined a concert at Birmingham’s National Indoor Arena, performing to 5000 plus audience. However his Facebook post, written to mark his 40th year, was filled with details of his professional highs and personal lows.
These included becoming a Christian at 17, marrying at 20 and performing for the first time, winning his first gospel award in 1997, touring the US in 2000, becoming a social justice artist, collapsing in the street due to marital problems in 2009 and subsequently divorcing in 2013.
Witness was very open in sharing with Soul Stirrings his reasons for opening up his life in such a way on Facebook.
He shared: “I suppose I’ve got 5000 friends on Facebook, people either who have known me because they went to school with me, worked with me, or are a Christian audience and many a time I’ve put things out on social media to just share a bit of my background.
“I have a lot of people that assume and presume that all is well and that nothing happens behind the scenes.
“In my year of becoming 40 I thought let me have a look back in retrospect of my life and give some people a background to who I am and what I’ve done, my successes and my failures.”
And he revealed why he became a social justice artist, “I was tired of the political and traditional aspects of the church that say a lot, pray a lot, but from my perception do very little where it concerns the general public.
“I thought there has to be much more than this. I had reached my peak in doing gospel.”
In fact, as the son of a social worker, Adrian has a keen sense of the social ills that negatively impact people’s lives. And he shared how his dad once told him that of the people who gave their tithes on Sunday, some would visit him on Monday stating they had no money to pay their bills.”
It was obvious from Adrian’s post, that his lowest point was the breakdown of his marriage. And even though he and his wife of almost 20 years went through months of marital counselling with their pastor, the marriage was not able to be saved and the couple subsequently divorced in 2013. It remains an area of sadness for Witness.
Life however seems to be on the up and up for Witness. He recently started a degree course at Aston University studying Business and Psychology, has signed a new record deal and has an album out in the summer. His latest work will feature a number of guest artists from the world of gospel. His Community Interest Company URASTAR Enterprises which encourages good citizenship amongst young people continues to grow and he recently got engaged.
All in all life is looking good for Witness. He highlights that when God is in the mix, there’s always something good around the corner.