Global Music Link recently had a rather engaging conversation with Dave P, owner of UGN Media. The conversation touched on many things, and chronicled his broadcasting journey over the last 30 years. What emerged is a remarkable story about a man who has a heart for the independent gospel artist. Hence, Mr Dave Paul has earned the mantle of ‘Dean of the New Breed’ of gospel artists.
As a young man, Dave always loved music and his dream was to be a radio presenter. He would listen to a variety of radio stations from the UK and from different faraway places. Radio Luxembourg was a favourite on his little handheld radio. He got his first radio job playing gospel on a mainstream community station, with three shows: Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday. A remarkable thing happened one Saturday. The station manager came in, saying: “Dave, I can’t believe it! They’re listening to your show all over in the market. They are loving your gospel music. That’s never
happened before!!!” In Dave’s words: “For me, transitioning into that was a remarkable thing. I just couldn’t get away from it. It’s what I really love doing.”
Dave’s consuming passion for the independents was fomented on his many trips to the States. “I used to go to America quite a lot, to the GMWA (Gospel Music Workshop of America), and what I saw with some artists – very humble – they just wanted the airplay and were so grateful. They would say: ‘You know, OK, man, I got a CD here. If you take it back to the UK, I guarantee you’re going to like it. It’s a jam, man.’ Actually, when I took it back, some of it was all right, but you could feel the passion in what they were talking about, because they just wanted to get out there.” Dave continues: “Well, I can’t imagine, if I’m a recording artist, what do I need to do to get out there? So, I put myself in their shoes to see it from their point of view, and you have a lot of radio stations, big guys, playing the same stuff over and over again, and these independent artists are writing even better songs. I just love to support because, you know, with me being independent as well, as far as I see it, I’m by myself too.
So, I am a great supporter of great independent artists. That is what I do, and that is what I love doing. We all need support. That’s the way I see it.”
During our far-reaching conversation, we asked Dave how he engages with this ‘new breed’ of independent gospel artist. Does he nurture them? Guide them along? Give them suggestions?
“I do indeed. I am not afraid to say what I feel – with respect, of course. But they’ve got to understand that it’s a dog-eat-dog world in this game right now, and you really have to work hard. If your vocals are not on par, or if your production isn’t great, I’ll have to say you need to really go and rethink this again at the end of the day.
You can tell me: ‘Man, this song has Jesus, it mentions God, and mentions going to the throne.’ No, your music really has to be on point as well, because if you want to get airplay on mainstream radio, then you’ve got to be really listening to what’s happening now. We’re not saying that you should be selling out or changing your lyrics, but you’ve got to think outside the box. You’ve got to create new songs and styles, instead of copying others. Find something inside of you, and let it happen.”
We asked Dave if he thought UK gospel artists are copying the Americans too much…
“That’s the thing, some people were copying too much and everything sounded the same. I know full well that I’m not the best broadcaster in the world, but guess what? I believe that I have a heart to deliver the way God created me. This is what I do at the end of the day. You know it’s not for everybody, but find something in yourself and people will sort of, like, shine together. I like that person because they are so natural. They don’t have to be using all these big fancy words; they are just like me. I just want to get by, so just let me do it. And that’s the thing about me and independent artists.”
Well, Mr P, we suppose that’s why you are known as the ‘Dean of the New Breed’.