I am a non-believer, as I have mentioned in a previous post.
However, I am grateful for those that do believe. Do hold faith in their heart. Those that build and craft their art based on their love (fear?) of a supreme being. And I don’t mean Cristiano Ronaldo’s least favourite sculpter.
For the next couple of posts, please indulge my love of all things spiritual, from the position of someone that is damned for all eternity. From the music they play to the buildings they design. This is their interpretation of their faith, shared with us.
Gospel House producers and vocalists are no different to the classical artists that have come before them. They use their talent and instruments – physical or virtual/electronic – to create the sounds, melody and bombast to honour and share their devotion. The only difference is that one is played on BBC Radio 3 (all too often involving a harpsichord) and the other is more at home in a nightclub at three in the morning.
Maybe the monks who have to get up before dawn for prayers, would benefit from 125bpm of devoted sounds?
I first fell in love with the genre, if not the subject, when I picked up Kim English – Everyday from 23rd Precinct in Glasgow. Here I was, a lad in my mid-20s, living a life devoid of all spiritual guidance – playing a track at 5am in an afterparty, where a woman thanks god for her health and looking after her. Everyday!
The fact that it has been remixed by Hex Hector, and moves along at a gallop is key to my love for the song. But it’s not all just about the pace. It’s hard not to listen to the lyrics as well.
Take Roy Davis Jr and Peven Everett’s – Gabriel. A stripped down, slower track that blew up across both the house and UK Garage scene. It is all about the lyrics for most of it. The horns that come in add a decent touch, but the drum loop pretty much just carries the words of devotion – as if this was the word of a prophet, no matter what the faith.
Bringing us up to date is Robert Hood, a name familiar to lovers of darkened rooms and minimal techno. Hood often lays his faith bare under his Floorplan alias (along with daughter Lyric Hood). On their first album alone they have a run of three tracks – The Heavens & The Earth, Good Thang and He Can Save You – that contain samples of religious leaders, or teachings pointing to their glory of their god.
We Magnify His Name is a great example of how faith and funk can appeal to anyone, no matter what you believe.
There are many more examples I could offer up, including Michelle Weeks, Michael Watford or Barbara Tucker. Maybe the thing that unites them all is their upbringing and the way they celebrated their faith. As a white kid growing up in draughty and, dare I say it, boring religious ceremonies – the idea that god could be celebrated through uplifting song and dance was alien to me.
So I drifted. I lost my faith around about the same time I fell in love with dance music. So no, whilst I will never worship at the alter of the one they call god – I will give thanks and praise to those that still believe.
Because as the Ministers of Funk and Jocelyn Brown would say – “If you believe like I believe, you’ll find a way”