Legendary UK gospel DJ Dave P spoke to Global Music Link about his love for his work, and his support of independent gospel artists
Global Music Link recently had an engaging conversation with Dave P, Founder and Director (together with Helen Paul) of UGN Media Limited, which is responsible for the running of UGN Jamz Radio.
The conversation touched on many things and chronicled his broadcasting journey over the last 35 years. What emerged is a remarkable story about a man who has a heart for the independent gospel artists, hence Mr Dave Paul has earned the title 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 different faraway places. Radio Luxembourg was a favourite on his little handset radio.
Dave got his first radio job playing gospel on community station Star FM. He then moved to Station FM – a very popular community station, where he presented three shows broadcast on Saturdays, Sundays and Tuesdays, before joining Choice FM. Choice, at the time, was one of the most well-known Black stations in the UK, with its gospel show amongst the most popular.
Whilst at Station FM, a remarkable thing happened to Dave. The station manager came into the studio, saying: “Dave, I can’t believe it! They’re listening to your show all over in the market and they are loving your gospel music. That’s never happened before!!!” In Dave’s words, “For me, that was a remarkable thing, very inspiring, and it’s what I really love doing.” Dave’s consuming passion for independent recording artists was inspired by his many trips to the States.
He recalled: “I used to go quite a lot to America to attend the GMWA (Gospel Music Workshop of America). I met many independent artists who were very humble, and they would say to me: “You know, 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.” They were just grateful I took their music with me. When I took it back to the UK and listened to it, some of it was all right. I could feel the passion in their music and lyrics, and they just wanted to broaden their audience with radio airplay.”
Dave continued: “When it comes to airplay, I put myself in their shoes to see it from their point of view. There are a lot of radio stations, big guys, playing the same stuff over and over again and some of these independent artists are writing even better songs, producing better music, but not getting airplay. I love to support independent artists, especially as UGN Jamz Radio is an independent media platform. I love what we do. The way I see it, we all need support.”
During our long-ranging conversation, we asked Dave how does he engage with this ‘new breed’ of independent gospel artist. Does he nurture them? Guide them along? Give them suggestions? He replied: “I do, indeed. I have confidence in what I say, with respect of course. Independent artists have to understand that it’s a free for all right now and you really have to work hard. For instance, if your vocals are not on par or if your production is not great, I would be honest and say you need to go and rethink this. If they respond: ‘Man, this song has Jesus, it mentions God, and mentions going to the throne’ then, with kindness, I would reply: ‘No, your music really has to be on point too, because if you want to get into mainstream radio as well, it needs to be of a higher standard.’
“If you want to get airplay on mainstream radio then you’ve got to be really listening to what’s happening now by listening to radio stations’ formats. We’re not saying that you should be selling out or changing your lyrics; it’s more about thinking outside of the box when creating new songs and styles, instead of copying others. Find something inside of you and create something wonderful.”
We asked Dave if he thought UK Gospel artists copy the Americans too much. His reply was: “That’s the thing with some people – they were copying too much, and everything sounds the same. I know full well that I’m not the best broadcaster in the world but, guess what? I believe I have a heart to present a radio show in a God-honouring way that is unique to me. Find that unique thing in yourself and your music and bring that to the table. You’ll find, people will like that person because they are natural.”
Well, Mr Dave, we suppose that’s why you are known as ‘The Dean of the New Breed’!