GMIA appoints new Directors to take Gospel music into new era by Juliet Fletcher

The Gospel Music Industry Alliance (GMIA) – the body representing British Gospel – has appointed six new directors to shape and implement a national vision for the sector, as it launches into the new 2020 era.

Chosen for their influence, experience and expressed passion, the elected individuals are:

Karen Gibson – founder and leader of Kingdom Choir

Marcia Dixon – award-winning Journalist and PR specialist

Wizdom – Managing Director of Tileyard, the largest independent music community in Europe

Anu Omideyi- founder and leader of The Reapers Choir

Tolu Adepegba – radio and media presenter

Roger Moore – record label and film production owner/founder, GL360

The new directors were chosen by special committees set up in each of the GMIA’s six regional areas, representing practitioners from Scotland, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, South West & Wales, the North, the Midlands and South East & London. The mood amongst the diverse creative community is one of great excitement and expectation. They join existing directors: Janet Simpson (music director and member of legendary group, The Simpson Sisters), Kevin Tomlin (Black Music historian and author) and GMIA founder, Juliet Fletcher (British Gospel pioneer).

During the past decade, the growth and influence of gospel music in Britain has seen an exponential participatory increase, particularly with the rise of African gospel beats, and following the popularity of community, university and corporate gospel choirs. More significant to this is the exposure of gospel acts at various high-profile events and occasions in the media.

WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE?

Changes for the organisation followed an intense process of procuring new volunteers; taking part in the formation of regional networks, and recommendations to the GMIA Board, with nominations coming from far and wide. This was independently adjudicated by O’Neil Dennis (aStepfwd.com) and Adebayo Abimbola (7GospelTracks.com), after their formation of Gospel Action Group, which was set up as a catalyst for seeing transformation for sector ambitions through united effort.  More than fifty nominations were whittled down to fifteen. Each representing their region, a total of thirteen regional nomination committee members were all instructed to vote on their final choice of six, without conferring with anyone.

The importance of these new appointments brings a total new impetus to GMIA, because it was galvanised from the sector itself.  In the words of my young people’s motto from the 1970s: “Cooperation, coupled with zeal, will accomplish that which zeal alone cannot do.”

There are many of us who have had a lot of zeal, passion and desire to see a demonstrated unity that knows no geographical, ageist, denominational or cultural boundaries.

It is an exciting time for GMIA to have this new influx of very influential and inspirational individuals – a strong collective to forge and shape a national plan in this new era. We all know that a vision that is clearly defined and achievable is required.

A WORD OF WARNING – A WORD OF ENCOURAGEMENT

The election of these individuals does not negate the critical need for as many individuals to join the effort of shaping and implementing what it means for us to have a working representative organisation for our creative community. The task it great and calls for all our abilities to respond to the needs in our communities. See how the coronavirus affected us in our live events. How are we going to respond as a creative faith-filled community? Even our own businesses will need to know how to survive in whatever economic or cultural environment we find ourselves.

GMIA now consists of nine directors:

KAREN GIBSON

Karen Gibson, an award-winning choir conductor and workshop leader, is a powerhouse of inspiration and energy. Known for  the  high  quality  of  her  work,  Karen’s  experience  is extensive. She has been involved with vocal groups and choirs for over 25 years, conducting   gospel workshops across the UK and Europe, as well as Nigeria, Japan, Zimbabwe, Rwanda and the USA.

Long before her performance with the superb Kingdom Choir for the Royal Wedding in 2018, Karen’s international status and influence were already well established. She has walked through doors of opportunity within our education system, which includes leading a ‘How to’ gospel workshop for 250 educators at the London Music and Drama Education Expo 2017, and opening for the first ever Music and Drama Education Expo in Manchester, 2017.

MARCIA DIXON

Marcia Dixon is a communications specialist who runs her own PR consultancy called Marcia Dixon Public Relations, which specialises in helping churches, ministries, businesses and organisations reach the Black Christian community – considered to be the most cohesive, wealthiest, educated and aspirational sector of Britain’s African and Caribbean population.

Marcia has, quite rightly, received numerous high-profile recognitions and awards for her longest running single-handed contribution to Christian media, particularly in the Black Church experience. In 2004, she was nominated for a European Federation of Black Women Business Owners Award, and in 2005, the African Caribbean Evangelical Alliance included Marcia Dixon in their list of 21 people who have contributed greatly to the development of Britain’s Black Christian community.  A Lifetime Achievement Award for her media work, in mobilising and informing faith communities, was presented to her at the first Legacy Gala, held in London.  She was also awarded the Inspirational Woman of the Year at the 2016 Wise Women Awards. More recently, in 2019, she was nominated in the category for Media Excellence at the Baton Awards, an event held for BAME women at the House of Lords.

“LADY T” TOLU ADEPEGBA

Tolu Adepegba, affectionately known as “Lady T”, is a multiple award-winning radio and live event presenter, with over a decade in the music industry. Lady T studied Music and Media Management at London Metropolitan University, after which she secured an internship at MTV as a production assistant, where she gained skills in TV production and management. Following a significant stint at BBC Radio Oxford, she moved on to host the flagship and primetime show,  Gospel Drive, on the UK’s number one Christian radio station, Premier Gospel for seven years, which had an average listenership of 765k listeners per week.

With her infectious personality and fantastic sense of humour, Lady T rapidly grew in popularity with the audience. During this time, she has interviewed gospel greats, including Donnie McClurkin, Kirk Franklin, Michelle Williams from Destiny’s Child, Mary Mary, Letitia Wright and David Oyelowo, to name only a few.  She has also hosted numerous high-profile events, including the Wise Women Awards, Thy Kingdom Come in Trafalgar Square for Archbishop of Canterbury, and various major concert events.

She was nominated for a UK Entertainment Award for Best Show amongst mainstream contenders -the only female in the category. She is the founder of ‘Kandid with Lady T’, a podcast which was nominated for a prestigious Jerusalem Award, coming second runner-up.

In addition to radio and TV presenting, Lady T’s services also include being a guest panellist, event host, voice-over work, and music and media consulting.

WIZDOM

Wizdom has worked in the entertainment industry for the last 20 years, and has built a reputation for excellence within the creative development of young people. Promoting his first event aged 12, and releasing his first song on the BRIT School CD at 14 years, he joined the pioneering “Tru Skool”, MOBO award-nominated hip-hop group, GreenJade.

As a member of GreenJade, he was executive producer for nine albums, whilst running the group’s record label and recording studio. He has also directed six music videos, and managed at the Brixton Fridge (The Electric), ULU, Granaries, Cargo and many other venues.

Wizdom was instrumental in creating the Gunz Down song, video and schools tour that was part of Choice FM’s Peace on the Streets campaign, which was seen by 10,000 young people in London, and corresponded with a fall in gun violence amongst young people between 2005 and 2011.

He revolutionalised the XLP Arts Showcase programme as Arts Director for the charity XLP, helping a number of young people to realise personal and creative arts goals, including: Jermain Jackman, winner of Voice UK; TriN3rgy’s appearance of Britain’s Got Talent, and helping to provide 25% of the initial intake to the new music industry college, ELAM (East London Arts & Media School).

Wizdom is now the Managing Director of Tileyard Impact, which is a creative industry youth and community development programme based in the heart of the industry as part of Tileyard London in Kings Cross.

ROGER MOORE

Birmingham-born Roger Moore is the eldest of four children, raised by his Christian parents in the Wesleyan Holiness Church. This upbringing not only guided him spiritually and shaped his morals, but also influenced him musically and culturally.

In the early 2000s, Roger volunteered for two local gospel promotions, where he was mentored in running tours with international traditional gospel artists and in running urban music events.

He went on to launch Divine Intavention, where he supported over 25 individual Midland-based acts to record and release their own material. Roger was the executive producer for over seven CD albums and a live recording.

Roger became frustrated with what he felt was a lack of strength and depth of gospel media platforms in the UK, and he launched Gospel Link Magazine in 2006, which ran for six years.

The knowledge and skills he developed producing Gospel Link Magazine formed the foundation of Gospel Link 360 CIC.

Roger continues his commitment to building UK Gospel, and has expanded his platform through podcasting with the #TheLiftShow & #TheQCShow at the newly refurbished GenStudios.

ANU OMIDEYI

Anu Omideyi is the award-winning choir director and manager of the award-winning The Reapers Choir, a gospel choir that was a finalist in BBC1’s Gospel Choir of the Year 2014, and has performed in venues including 10 Downing Street for the Prime Minister, Kensington Palace, the Royal Albert Hall, the Royal Festival Hall and the London African Music Festival 2015.

Anu was an off-screen judge for BBC Songs of Praise Gospel Choir of the Year 2019, and has been an official vocal coach for the University Gospel Choir of the Year UK since 2018, having been a UGCY judge two years prior.

The pleasant surprise is that Anu is a professionally qualified lawyer, and was highly successful before following her inner conviction of dedicating her life work to music and gospel music in particular. Her quick wit, style and friendly manner draw people in, and her practical but charismatic approach enables her to communicate effectively in any environment.

Anu now runs her own business, through www.anuomideyi.com, in which she provides musical services, such as song writing, producing and choir directing, alongside services comprising chairing, hosting, public/motivational speaking and broadcasting.

JANET SIMPSON

Janet Simpson is a solid church girl, having her full foundation and growth in her pastoral parents’ Light & Life Full Gospel Fellowship, a Windrush Generation legacy. Of the eight children Janet is the eldest of four girls who make up the harmonic Simpson Sisters, who are renown for their foot-stomping grooves with an emphatic style of their own.

Amidst all her church experience as a music minister, over many years Janet has invested in her own musical journey by attending courses run by the prestigious Berklee School of Music in the USA, the Gospel Music Workshop of America and The Gospel Heritage Foundation, founded by the legendary publisher and entrepreneur, Dr Teresa Hairston.

Janet runs her own business – J Simbet Accountancy Services Limited – managing the day-to-day financial accountability for various large international companies. The company has been operating since 2012, specialising in payroll consultancy, and currently manages accounts exceeding £3 million. She is qualified in BTech Management and is a Member of the Chartered Institute of Payroll Professionals.

KEVIN TOMLIN

For the last thirty plus years, Kevin Tomlin has been studying music with a signature sound based around soul and r’n’b music originated from America, especially music from America’s inter-cities and urban areas, such as New Orleans, Chicago, Memphis, Muscle Shoals, Detroit and Philadelphia.

While he was living in America, he began teaching music history in the area of ‘Music of Black Origin’ and visual arts in South Florida, USA, through the ‘Arts in Education’ programme.

During this period, Kevin was involved in the creation of special training programmes and workshops for music teachers in South Florida schools and other settings, using music history as the foundation, to build exciting programmes of study and support for education professionals.

In recognition of his work as a music historian, Kevin was appointed in 2015 onto the Executive Board of the UK-based GMIA (Gospel Music Industry Alliance), serving and representing British gospel music in its relationship to gospel music sectors in other territories across the world.

JULIET FLETCHER

Founder of GMIA – alongside the late Linton Beckles and co-organiser Caroline Hughes – Juliet has made promoting British gospel music her life’s work, especially to see an organisation that expresses and demonstrates united working in the sector, from a professional, arts, cultural and spiritual approach. She has created numerous ‘first time’ events, including: Oasis Gospel Music Awards (1983); ‘We’re Gonna Sing‘ – first documentary on British Gospel, televised on Channel 4 (1981); BBC Gospel Train first ‘live broadcast’ show, touring Black churches in the UK and USA (1993 – 1997); series of Gospel Summit Business Industry events (2003 – 2016), and Windrush Church & Music – a one-day three-cities LIVE simultaneous broadcast from Manchester, Birmingham and London, marking 70th Years Anniversary Celebrations.

 It has been an amazing journey to this stage. There is a roll call of individuals who have made all the difference to where we are today. We need to call upon other individuals in every region to build this new vision on how to advance our scene. The Board’s job is to start the ball rolling, but only together as a united sector can we keep it rolling.

If you would like to participate in the development of what the GMIA is hoping to achieve, please get in touch by emailing info@gmia.org.uk or calling 020 3086 8348.

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