Lurine Cato is proving why her track, ‘Chosen To Serve’, is so timely. Being an ambassador; singing at the Grenfell Memorial Service; being vocal coach on ITV Good Morning Britain’s ‘Sing It to Win It!’ competition; working with the B Positive Choir… the multi award-winning gospel singer-songwriter, vocal coach and producer just hasn’t stopped!
Over the years, Lurine Cato has worked consistently with a number of charities and has supported good causes, including working with Love Life Ministries, founded by Bruce Dyer (UK’s first £1m teenage footballer) and his wife, Janine Dyer (Raymond & Co), and The Safety Box Project, with entrepreneur and international speaker, Nathaniel Peat. With both organisations she has been working to change the lives of young people and adults within prisons and remand centres, sharing her testimony and songs.
In May 2017, as an ambassador for the Diana Award, the CEO, Tessy Ojo, asked Lurine to perform at the Inaugural Legacy Award, a new international award as a memorial to Princess Diana’s 20-year anniversary. This event took place at St James’ Palace, where the HRH Princes William and Harry presented the Award to young people from across the globe, including Belize, USA, Canada and India.
Lurine was then asked to be part of the Global Gift Foundation fundraising event, on behalf of the Diana Award, at Earl Spencer’s family home at Althorp, Northamptonshire. “Everyone was up and singing and dancing to ‘Wave it Away’ – a gospel track! I was honoured that my friend, composer and orchestra conductor, Ian Oakley, came to play for me for one of my songs, ‘Keep Fighting’. It was very emotional, and I could see many of the guests wiping tears from their eyes.”
The Grenfell Tower Fire occurred on 14th June 2017 and, sadly, many people lost their lives, leaving a devastating impact on the survivors, families, local residents and the nation. A couple of days later, Jon Sewell (Soul Box Band) and The Message Trust were planning an open-air memorial service for the people of Grenfell, and requested Lurine’s help. The Latymer Christian Church, one of the nearby churches and organisations, had responded to the needs of the residents of Grenfell and the local community, by offering a safe space, counselling, support, food, clothing and aid, and wanted to do something tangible to bring some comfort.
On Sunday 18th June 2017 – just four days after the fire – The Message Trust, Latymer Community Church, Latimer Minister, the Eden Team, opera singers from Kensington Temple, Fresh Manna, Ian Copeland Green, Rachel Kerr and Lurine Cato came together, and Grenfell’s first Open-Air Memorial Service was convened. “Everybody just pulled together,” said Jamie Sewell, Eden Trust. “The guys who came with the professional PA system drove miles down the motorway, like angels, to support us.”
The worship team was a collaboration of Church of England, Evangelicals, and Pentecostals (and included Lurine’s sisters: Paulette Cato Tyson and Elaine Cato), and the preaching by Frog Orr-Ewing (Latimer Minister) helped those who needed some relief. The constant supply of chairs from the church to the closed-off street finally ran out as more and more people came.
It was the well documented in news reports around the world when the Fire Brigade, who arrived in their engines, received the first of many resounding applauses. Lurine recalls: “There were so many hurting people, so we spent time talking, hugging and praying for them and wiping their tears. Romans 12:15 says ‘Weep with those who weep’, and I was weeping. Many volunteers were on hand to offer support to so many who were still shell-shocked. You could feel the grief, confusion, anger and heavy sense of loss and uncertainty (over missing loved ones) in the area. I knew it was right for us to be there.”
Lurine was back at Grenfell in June for the ‘Gospel 4 Grenfell’ fundraising open-air concert at the nearby Tabernacle Christian Centre, organised by Christian host and comedian, Anthony ‘Pass Da Mic’ King. The church leaders, Pastors Derrick and Pauline Wilson, together with church members and volunteers, had been working tirelessly since the fire started. King galvanised artists from across the gospel community to lend their support. Lurine was asked to minister in song, alongside fellow artists and musicians, including: Noel Robinson, Natalie Phillips and Volney Morgan & New Ye. The funds were being raised to enable the church to continue financially supporting the families. “Again, it was amazing how everyone cooperated and pulled together,” Lurine commented.
Later that year, Lurine was approached by the NHS Blood & Transplant (NHSBT) Service to support their choir, B Positive Choir, at the MOBO’s pre-event. They sang Andra Day’s ‘Rise Up’, and her relationship with B Positive continued when she was contacted again to perform with them at the MOBOs 2017 (Channel 5, also syndicated and shown on BET) alongside performances from Stormzy and X Factor finalist, Tokio Myers. During that time, Lurine received the Honorary UK Entertainment Award for her contribution to gospel music.
The NHSBT had ambitions to raise awareness of blood conditions such as sickle cell anaemia suffered by mainly Black and minority ethnic (BAME) communities, and the importance for people of similar backgrounds to give blood. They needed new, younger donors from across the UK, however, particularly for this campaign, they needed donors who reflected the BAME population of the patients who needed to receive, as this blood would give the receiver a better chance of survival.
To spread the word, B Positive Choir, directed by Colin Anderson (BBC Choir of the Year winner) and Marsha Crossland (project manager for the NHSBT), decided to audition for Britain’s Got Talent and asked Lurine to join them. After much prayer and getting to know the choir members (who were also sufferers of sickle cell and other blood conditions), Lurine and her team took the decision to postpone working on her new album and going on tour, and concluded that raising awareness and encouraging new blood donors was too important a cause to miss.
The music world must have thought it strange to see Lurine on a talent show, but she received a lot of support, as people understood the ‘Give Blood’ campaign was saving lives, and it was an honour to represent the NHS. It was never about winning BGT; it was, however, a great opportunity to reach the masses with the ‘Give Blood’ message.
The choir’s first appearance on the show was an emotionally tearful one for BGT judge, Amanda Holden, who had received a life-saving blood transfusion during the birth of her child. B Positive Choir and Lurine Cato did well getting through to the semi-finals with Andra Day’s ‘Rise Up’. In the semi-finals, they sang ‘This is Me’ from the hit film, The Showman, and went straight through to the final when judge and producer, Simon Cowell, bestowed the rare wild card. The competition was won by the comedian, Lost Voice Guy.
The 70th anniversaries of the birth of the NHS and the arrival of the Empire Windrush to England made it a fortuitous year for B Positive Choir and Lurine Cato, who were invited to sing at a number of high profile celebration events, including the NHS Celebration at York Cathedral and Windrush celebrations at the Andover British Army Base. The choir suffered deep sadness, however, when Simonne Kerr, one of their members, was murdered. “The impact on us all can still be felt… We will never forget her,” Lurine said.
Her first visit to South Africa led to sell-out concerts and demands for more. Her backing singers’ coaching workshops have featured guest artists, such as reggae artist Janet Kay (Silly Games); Jahméne Douglas (X Factor), and international saxophonist, Joe Leader. Her vocal work has launched many careers within the music industry, which is probably why this year she became the sought-after vocal coach for ITV’s Good Morning Britain’s singing competition, ‘Sing It to Win It!’, hosted by former Girls Aloud band member, Kimberley Walsh.
As well as live performances, Lurine is now back in the studio, creating new songs and recording with her friends and highly talented producers, Mark Qura Rankin (Chris Brown, Usher), Ian Copeland Green (Michael Jackson, Jennifer Lopez, Noel Robinson) and Marcus Johnson (Beverley Knight, Kim Burrell, Soul II Soul).
It has been a pivotal year for gospel music nationally, with fellow artists, like Jason Nicholas Porter and Wayne Ellington, doing well on The Voice UK, as well as the deserved respect people like Karen Gibson and Marcia Dixon are receiving for having contributed so much for gospel music within the UK. “Karen Gibson and Kingdom Choir did us proud at the Royal Wedding, and are moving gospel music into new territories.”
Lurine Cato continues to be on a mission to reach everyone – particularly those who are hurting – with a message of faith, hope and love, and certainly has been ‘Chosen to Serve’.
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