Festival celebrates diverse contribution of gospel music

(Photo: Getty/iStock)

Liverpool is set to host the UK's first ever mainstream Gospel Music Festival.

The event will take place in Stanley Park on 9 September 2023 and will feature The Kingdom Choir and Called Out Music who are scheduled to headline among other international artists.

The festival, organised by Liverpool Lighthouse, coincides with a drive by the UK gospel music community to make September a Gospel Music Heritage Month and organisers want to raise more awareness of the widespread influence of gospel music.

"Much modern mainstream music, as well as many genres of music of black origin, owe their origins and inspirations to gospel music. However, these roots often go unacknowledged and unrecognised," organisers said.

Anu Omideyi, Liverpool Gospel Music Festival Director and Music Director at Liverpool Lighthouse, said it had been "wonderful" to see gospel music featuring on a "national scale" recently, particularly during the King's coronation ceremony and the 2018 wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, where the Kingdom Choir performed.

"Gospel music and musicians have significantly supported mainstream popular artists for decades and now we're excited to build a mainstream platform that celebrates and platforms the genre itself," said Omideyi.

Rebecca Ross-Williams, Creative Director of Liverpool Lighthouse said, "It is beyond exciting to announce Liverpool Gospel Music Festival this September as it responds to a national need, as there isn't an equivalent.

"It is the right time for the festival with a drive to make September Gospel Music Heritage Month, with Liverpool as UNESCO City of Music, having such a strong music heritage and because of Liverpool's contribution to black history."

She continued: "Liverpool Lighthouse is committed to supporting the protection and development of gospel music and we aim to provide a much needed platform to gospel music artists, showcase some of the best internationally, and bring joy to our audiences."

Liverpool Football Club players Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Luis Diaz recently visited Liverpool Lighthouse to show their support for the festival, with Oxlade-Chamberlain playing drums alongside the choir.

Oxlade-Chamberlain said his time at Liverpool Lighthouse was "really, really good".

He revealed that Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson Becker plays the classic, "Hallelujah", "non-stop in the changing room, so Hallelujah is what I hear most days".

He also commented on the rich influence of gospel music: "It's where a lot of soulful music comes from."

The festival will be accompanied by a programme taking gospel music into schools in partnership with music education hub Resonate.

The pilot will take place in two secondary schools in June and will roll out to more schools in the next academic year "with the eventual aim of curriculum change that will see young people nationwide learning about the music genre", Omideyi said.