The Gospel Shout

MAVERICK CITY SINGER RYAN OFEI SEEKS TO INSPIRE FAITH WITH LATEST EP 

Grammy-nominee and Maverick City singer, Ryan Ofei, speaks with fellow gospel artist, Coco Dupree, about his new EP Limitless Worship, faith, inspiration — and whether a collaboration with Stormzy and Justin Bieber could be on the cards…

COCO DUPREE (CD): We’ve just listened to some of your new music, and I feel privileged; it felt like the atmosphere shifted. If I were there by myself, I’d have definitely been on my knees on the floor!
RYAN OFEI (RO): Thank you! That’s what we want. Music that evokes emotion, truth and spirit.

CD: For those hearing about you for the first time, who is Ryan Ofei?
RO: Ryan Ofei is a son, a brother, a friend, a pastor, a musician and an artist. I love God, I love His people, and I love cultivating ways in which we can get to know Him more.

CD: Before music, you were heavily into sports. How did that transition from sports into music take place?
RO: Sports was a creative avenue for me, music was another avenue. My favourite was sports, and I played American football for years. I had scholarship offers and, at the time, I definitely felt this was the path I’d be taking. But during my last year of high school, I got seriously injured. I saw how that made my mom feel, and how it made me feel. I asked myself: “Am I going to be able to carry this on for a long time?” It didn’t feel like it would be the case, so I made the hard decision to drop sports, and I started trying to figure out what God really wanted me to do. That was my journey to university, where I found music — again.

CD: You’ve been sharing the stage with many high-profile artists, including Kirk Franklin and Maverick City. What has this experience been like?
RO: Every time I’m like: “God, is this really happening?” Halfway through the performance with Kirk, I thought to myself: “Wow, the guy I would listen to in my car is now on stage with me.” It’s surreal. 

CD: Do you get nervous before performing?
RO: Honestly, I have such confidence in God and also in the security of being with my band, that I have a feeling of ‘Whatever happens, happens – let’s go’. We have a track record of doing it, so it’s not as crazy as it would be if I were completely alone.

CD: How would you describe your new EP, Limitless Worship, which was released earlier this year?
RO: An opportunity to enter into the presence of God and pray, read the Word and worship, whether you’re in your car, workplace or getting ready in the morning. I want it to be something that facilitates an atmosphere for people to be free, really give God their best, and receive whatever He has for them.

CD: If you could collaborate with anyone, who would you choose?
RO: Jacob Collier is really, really cool; I’ve been listening to him a lot recently. I’m throwing in a second one — Stormzy! My third one would be Justin Bieber. Any of those! They’re incredible at what they do. I’m really inspired by them.

CD: Out of all your songs, which is your favourite and why?
RO: From a writing perspective, I wrote a song for my wife, Priscilla, called ‘WYMM’, (an acronym for ‘Will You Marry Me?’). I just sat down, and it flowed out. I think when something feels that natural, it’s a reminder that this is what I was always supposed to do. As for something I’m enjoying singing right now, I have a song called ‘Still Holy’ with Maverick City Music. It just feels right. I wake up and start singing it; it’s such an incredible song. 

Ryan Ofei’s new EP, Limitless Worship, is out now on all platforms. 

COCO DUPREE RELEASES NEW SINGLE
After a decade, and armed with an array of perspective-shifting experiences and a deeper understanding of where God is directing her, Coco Dupree storms back onto the scene with the sumptuously nostalgic ‘He Done It’ featurinng Triple O.

Coco Dupree has toured the world and sung to packed-out stadiums. She’s spent years working her way to the top of her craft as a backing vocalist, performing with the likes of Pixie Lott, Ne-Yo, Wretch 32 and more.

Dupree speaks about the visceral, life-altering dreams she began having during the first UK lockdown, which clarified some of the questions she’d been asking about her journey and destination. “During my decade away from being a solo artist, I was just living life out in the world. Nothing was working, I didn’t feel happy and content. But then, in 2020, I began having these vivid dreams, showing me achieving things and following the path God had laid out for me.”

Dupree’s latest single, ‘He Done It’, is a unique modern blend of gospel, r&b, and hip-hop. After ten years of perfecting her skills behind the scenes, from this point on, ‘Coco Dupree’ will no doubt be a name you’ll be hearing a lot more often.

The new single, ‘He Done It’, is set for release on 23rd June on all digital platforms.

GLOBAL ARTS MUSIC
Gaumont Theatre, London

I recently ventured out across the perennial hustle and bustle of London to find a cherished moment of God-given peace. Joined by my dear niece and gospel singer, Ms Coco Dupree, we were on a mission, and headed to the prestigious Gaumont State Theatre in Kilburn.

The occasion was the Donald Lawrence Music + Arts Global Spectacular. Billed as a tribute to the late great American Gospel musician, Edwin Hawkins, the night promised to deliver an unforgettable worship experience, delivered through a grand and diverse display of vocal talent.

From the moment we entered the auditorium, the first thing we noticed was that the atmosphere was charged with unmistakably positive energy and the awesome presence of God. Members of the audience were full of enthusiasm and danced their way joyfully through each of the uplifting and soul-stirring anthems.

Song after song, we were blessed by the outstanding ability of the lead singers and the range and versatility of the backing singers. From within the ranks of the audience came a multi-racial and multi-national choir comprising over 350 voices, all eager to elevate the sound of praise to breathtaking new heights.

The humility, sincerity and genuine charm of the lead man and host, Donald Lawrence, was a pleasure to behold and experience. We thoroughly enjoyed the worship experience, and we look forward to the next one in two years’ time.

My sentiments were shared by Volney Morgan, of MOBO Award-winning group, Volney Morgan & New Ye, who was the host. He said: “It’s safe to say the choirs are back! Music + Arts hands down was one of the events of the year, bringing so many people from Europe and around the world to come and sing gospel music. I can’t wait for Music + Arts Global 2025.”

Equally complimentary about the 2023 event was Ayo ‘Ayce’ Oyerinde of GloFest International, who served as the UK-based production manager for Donald Lawrence’s London-based worship extravaganza: “Music + Arts was a great success. Knowing the heart of what Edwin started and what Donald is continuing, I believe the essence of Music + Arts — love, togetherness and the breaking down of cultural barriers — was front and centre this weekend. I believe everybody left with a smile.”

O’Neil Dennis, founder of AStepFWD.com, who worked on event promotion along with Bill Carpenter said: “From the core team to the volunteers, to the choir and attendees, Donald unleashed an army of hearts, and it was absolutely inspiring to be part of the movement. The coming together of different nations gives us a taste of the power of gospel music to bring us into community, fellowship and harmony with each other.”
Denis Wade

VISION TV ONLINE TOP 5 GOSPEL RELEASES

1. UK-based gospel singer-songwriter, Alia Lara, has released her new single, ‘Love Like This’. The song is based on the Bible Scripture, 1 John 4:9-10, and Alia expresses her experience of God’s “ever-loving and never-leaving” love, with a fresh yet nostalgic r&b vibe and intricate lyrics to complement it.

2. Revere has released ‘Holy Hallelujah’, a song from their forthcoming album which features lead vocals by Becca Folkes and US-based worship leader, Carrington Gaines. This song was born out of the shared life experience of a team of songwriters from Brazil and America. Folkes and Gaines bring a level of raw honesty and passion to this song that points to the glory of God.

Holy Hallelujah | Becca Folkes, Carrington Gaines & REVERE (Official Live Video)

3. Family group, Vessels United, is back with a new release, ‘Nothing’. With an afrobeat twist, this song is bound to get you moving and adding it to your playlist. Vessel United says: “We encourage listeners to be bold and daring. There’s satisfaction knowing you are making a difference and a contribution towards the growth of God’s Kingdom.”

4. The award-winning DJ Shunz has released ‘Blessings and Favour’, featuring Greatman Takit (background vocals by Oyije). Co-produced, mixed and mastered by KD Summerz, ‘Blessings and Favour’ is an upbeat afrogospel amapiano track, created for every hearer to enjoy and feel uplifted. DJ Shunz said: “The Bible says that we are blessed and highly favoured. So this track was created to affirm that fact.”

5. Elikem Kofi’s highly anticipated afrogospel album, ‘Long Life and Drama’, has finally arrived. With captivating tracks like ‘What I Want’, ‘Joro Mi’ and the irresistible ‘Be Okay’, this album is a timeless sensation filled with ethereal rhythms and soul-stirring melodies. Prepare to be spellbound by the divine artistry of Elikem Kofi, as he weaves an enchanting tapestry of hope, resilience and sheer musical genius.

All songs are available on digital platforms.

THE GOSPEL SHOUT BY Andrew and Shireen Morrison

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