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Kingdom Choir and the future of UK Gospel

SUCCESS: The Kingdom Choir

THIS YEAR will go down as a ground-breaking year for Karen Gibson and the Kingdom Choir – and possibly for UK gospel – following the recent announcement that they have been signed by Sony Records.
The Kingdom Choir debut album for the label is scheduled to be released on November 2. A concert is planned at Union Chapel in Islington, north London on November 28.

The Sony signing has been welcomed by the UK gospel scene. Juliet Gospel, head of the Gospel Music Industry Alliance (GMIA) hopes it will alert UK gospel artists to what is possible.

“This signing will help to create excitement and encouragement to the aspirations of people,” she said. “It’s reminiscent of when the Inspirational got signed by a mainstream label in the 1980s during UK’s gospel golden age.”

She added: “This development hopefully give artists a boost to up their game and do wonderful things on key platforms in an excellent way. And hopefully will inspire our churches to re-focus on gospel choirs.”

Bazil Meade MBE, founder of the London Community Gospel Choir (LCGC), one of UK’s most well known gospel choirs, shared: “It’s an amazing thing to happen. And look at the way the choir have achieved it – by singing at the Royal Wedding and getting attention from across the world.

If the album gets promoted properly, and does well, people from across the world will definitely take notice of what’s happening in the UK gospel scene.”

In a statement announcing the signing, Karen Gibson stated: “The Kingdom Choir are absolutely delighted with the journey of the past few months. It’s been a rollercoaster, but we wouldn’t have it any other way – first, the honour of being able to sing at the royal wed- ding, and then the thrill of being signed to Sony.”

Sony Music boss Nicola Tuer said she had “jumped at the chance” to sign the group. “The choir believe in love, music and power and we are excited to capture this on record for their fans across the globe.”

There’s no doubt that the gamechanger for Karen and the Kingdom Choir was performing at the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in May.

The wedding was watched by more than 1.9 billion people, and YouTube videos of the choir singing Stand By Me during the wedding have amassed more than 10 million views.

GOLDEN

Roy Francis is no stranger to UK gospel acts getting mainstream record deals. In the 1980s, during the period known as UK’s gospel’s golden age, Roy managed the Inspirational Choir, who were signed to CBS Records (now known as Sony Music).

The choir had a number of top 30 hits, and travelled the UK and Europe to perform at a range of secular events, usually to a great reception.

He’s now writing a book, due out in the autumn, which details how gospel artists can achieve success. He sees the signing as a positive development: “I’d love to congratulate her on this achievement. One of the big lessons she demonstrates, is that for UK gospel artists, you never know where an opportunity to reach a wider platform will come from.

"So they must always be hopeful, accessible but at the same time be sure of who we are and what we are trying to achieve.”

Only time will tell if the album will be the sales success that every one is praying, and hoping it will be, but there’s no doubt that when the year ends, Karen Gibson and choir members will look back on 2018 and see it as life-changing.

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