On Wednesday February 22nd guests were welcomed to an event to find out more about becoming a supporter of the Liverpool Gospel Music Festival, due to launch in September 2023.
Gospel music is an inclusive genre, enjoyed by audiences of all faiths and none and attracting young and diverse audiences. At present, in spite of the importance of gospel music to people from black and diverse backgrounds and identities, there is no mainstream gospel music festival in the UK.
The goal of the event was to raise awareness within the city and recruit sponsors, supporters and advocates who can help bring this exciting, uplifting event to North Liverpool.
The event featured performances by Love and Joy Gospel Choir and the outstanding Liverpool gospel artist Hayli Kincaid.
There was a presentation by respected local historian Lawrence Westgaph to put the festival into context of Liverpool's pivotal role in the development of Gospel Music through the slave trade and how it has benefited from gospel music and its influences into blues, rock and roll and other musical genres over recent decades.
Kevin McManus, Head of UNESCO City of Music at Culture Liverpool, Liverpool City Council shared how the festival moves forward the promises of celebration of diverse and inclusive music made as the UNESCO City of Music.
Anu Omideyi, the Festival Director, Music Director at Liverpool Lighthouse and Co-Chair of the Gospel Music Industry Alliance presented the vision for the festival, which is part of a wider project to develop gospel music as a genre in the UK where it has been historically undervalued and under-resourced.
This was evidenced by the startling statistic that 60-70% of musicians and other professionals supporting mainstream pop music artists have their roots in gospel music as a genre.
Gospel music, where it does receive support and exposure, also evidences a wide audience, with artists such as Stormzy and the Kingdom Choir demonstrating that it is possible for gospel music to succeed in the mainstream. Gospel acts are also embedded in mainstream music culture in other European countries, which have better established development pathways for artists.
The festival has already secured funding from the Arts Council England and Liverpool City Council but more funding is needed. Several more events are being planned as Liverpool Lighthouse work to raise the profile of this exciting event and attract sponsors and supporters to help make it a reality.
If you are interested in attending a future supporters' event or would be interested in a conversation on how you can support the festival, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org