Jamaica Gleaner / Gospel music has in many ways influenced other forms of music and vice versa, including reggae, dancehall and alternative, which has resulted in a relationship between the genres known as contemporary gospel. However, it is a genre that is often times left out.
In a recent Gleaner Editors’ Forum, preceding the RJRGLEANER Communications Group-sponsored Kingston Music Week (KMW), it was mentioned that the genre of contemporary gospel does have a place within the entire celebration of the city as a creative hub with a focus on music production, despite the difference in audiences.
Speaking at the forum, entertainer/promoter Patrick ‘Tony Rebel’ Barrett said that the KMW is a great opportunity for gospel artistes and organisations to come on board.
However, it was also noted that all musical forms had their defined or high seasons. Gospel music events, in particular, are normally executed at the end of the year into the month of January; for example, Genesis, which does not coincide with the KMW schedule, which is usually the first week of December.
“It is twofold. What we have done to have control over what happens in the week, is to develop a series of events so that we are not only promoting events of promoters or people who are doing events. Sometimes what we have to do is encourage promoters to do events during this period,” Dr Dennis Howard, general manager of Radio Service at RJRGLEANER Communications Group, said.
The next step to include contemporary gospel will then be to persuade persons within the gospel music sector to host events that focus on the genre, the history, diversity and role of it within the creative hub. There have been efforts by the organisers of KMW to create a rapport between the week-long celebration and significance of contemporary gospel without any conflict of interest, but it has not yet been formalised.
CEO of Glory Music Tommy Cowan said, “In spite of where we are, whether gospel or dancehall music, Jamaican people are religious and the absence of the genre is a result of an oversight somewhere. I think it may be how it is internally organised, although I can’t speak for anyone; maybe the persons did not look at the area and its market to adapt it in the right way.”
NO CONFLICT OF INTEREST
Cowan is fascinated by the idea of being a part of the line-up of events and does not think it is a conflict of interest. He expressed interest in the promotion and execution of an event that would not only capture the attention of Christians, but the same secular market that is attracted to other proceedings of KMW. He also remembers being approached in earlier years to do a gospel event, but did not find a position for it at the time.
“We would have needed to break out the events more individually to give it its own identity so that people could understand it is a gospel event, and by doing so, draw the secular market as well,” Cowan said.
“Gospel music is a vibrant genre, if not more vibrant in many ways that even young people can enjoy events like Fun in the Son. The secular crowds that attend nowadays gospel concerts are just as entertained as Christians. In fact, 30 per cent is from the secular world that attend through curiosity and to enjoy themselves,” he added.
He suggested that since KMW is a celebration that gives thanks to the contribution of music, contemporary gospel could play a part by way of looking at the history of Kingston, what it has provided to the culture and world with a focus on Kingston’s historic churches as landmarks. Cowan is looking forward to the 2018 execution of KMW to possibly bring his ideas to life as part of the celebration.
“I would be so happy to sit down with the organisers as part of the committee to determine how we deal with it, because people in gospel understand gospel, we would understand how to market it, how it should be approached and executed to stage it, as part of a week that highlights music and the contribution of the genres, in Kingston,” he added.