Month: July 2014

What is Gospel Music?

 

A while ago I was having a conservation with friends on the state of Gospel Music today. I also was discussing with some people some time last year on Twitter on what Gospel Music is.

When Gospel Music comes to your mind, what do you think of? American Aunties and Grandmas in their Sunday Best shuffling, shaking their tambourines to ‘hallelujah’ sung music. What clothing does a Gospel singer wear? Do you think of a certain type of people singing Gospel Music? Is Gospel Music Black? Is Gospel Music White? Is Contemporary Christian Music different to Gospel, are they the same? Do you have to sing a certain type of music for it to be classified as Gospel Music? Can Rap be Gospel? Can Rock be Gospel? Do you have to dress a certain way to be a Gospel singer?  Do you have to shout and have a strong voice to be a Gospel singer? Can you have a mellow and soft melodic voice as a Gospel singer? Is Gospel Music only sung in English or does it to belong to all nations? Can you sing both secular and Gospel? Is Inspirational music the same as Gospel or is it different?

These are some of the questions that I discussed with some friends of mine and that frequently pops up when discussing the state of Gospel Music today.

What is Gospel Music?

To define Gospel Music is hard and controversial. It embodies different genres of music but if you were to find a common definition of Gospel Music you would find:

A popularized form of impassioned rhythmic spiritual music rooted in the solo and responsive church singing of rural blacks in the American South, central to the development of rhythm and blues and of soul music- www.dictionary.reference.com

Other definitions include:

Intense, joyful music that is associated with evangelists in the South, especially among African-Americans. Gospel had a strong influence on many rock ‘n’ roll singers- www.dictionary.reference.com

Gospel spans many genres, races, ethnicities, nations and languages. Whether Gospel is sang in Hindu, Norwegian, Persian, Zulu, Arabic, English, Twi, Indonesian or Yoruba it remains Gospel. This is what this collage represents, Gospel is for all. IMG_4355

How many faces can you recognise in the collage above? Alexis Spight is one. She is known for her contemporary Gospel music that has influences of dance music. Yes, Gospel dance music!

Definitions of Gospel found in the dictionary would have you thinking that it belongs to one type of people. It does not. The misconception of Gospel music is that it is sung in African American Communities and Churches only. That is not strictly true, it is very much a stereotype.  Gospel is sung by different types of people and in different forms of music.  But what does the music have in common? Gospel Music’s purpose is to spread the message of Jesus Christ through music.

So you may ask again, what is Gospel music?  The word Gospel refers to ‘Good news’, that Jesus died for our sins so that we may have eternal life. The Good news means that we have been given a extraordinary gift of forgiveness, grace, mercy and love. It is God giving his son Jesus Christ to save us from our sins, a gift of salvation  to humanity. It is sacrifice, overcoming death, having the victory, resurrection and life. So when I think of Gospel music I think of these things. I do not think of Gospel music belonging to one type of people, it belongs to all. I think of the promises of God, I think of salvation, I think of deliverance, I think of love, forgiveness, kindness, peace, joy, comfort- all the things God has said in his word. That is what Gospel Music is.

Gospel music as a term is interchangeable with the term Christian music nowadays. Gospel music is also a type of Christian music, but can be described as Christian music. Now do not get me wrong, if you were to look at the Billboard charts for example you would find various Gospel or Christian charts. Some types of Christian music are described as Southern Gospel, Urban Contemporary Gospel, Christian Contemporary Music-this is all marketing purposes! Different forms of Gospel music are marketed to appeal to different audiences. So if you prefer R&B or Soul influences you would tend to like Urban Contemporary Gospel. That is the market tools of the music business. It does not mean Urban Contemporary or Rock influenced Gospel music is not Gospel. Some people get caught up if a song does not sound like traditional Gospel or Christian Music and rule it off. The Bible tells us that music we listen to must be spirit led, so listen to the words? Is it praising God? Is it speaking the message of God? Is it preaching the Gospel? Does it edify your soul? Does it speak the things of God-to love and to be kind etc. If it ticks these things and others, then it is truly Christian Music. There are no instructions in the Old or New testament on what type of instruments should be played or what style of music is allowed and forbidden. All God commands is for the music to be spirit led (Ephesians 5:19, Colossians 3:16)

Gospel Music, Insiprational Music, Secular Music…

Now this is very much a controversial area. Is Gospel Music the same as Inspirational Music ? Is it similar?

There are great inspirational songs, that are used to inspire people in their day-to-day activities. Inspirational songs often speak about peace, love and kindness. But is this the love or the peace or the kindness that God speaks about? The world’s definition of love, peace and kindness is different at times. I do not think Inspirational music is wrong, but to describe Gospel Music as the same or similar is wrong.

I have often discussed this with friends, is it okay to sing and listen to both Gospel and Secular Music at the same time. There are singers that do and did so- Whitney Houston is one. It is a area of conversation that you would find many people have heated conversations over. It must be hard to sing both Gospel and Secular Music, one is Godly and one is worldly. However it depends on the type of Secular music it is, if it is crude and vulgar and against the things of God, the two cannot mix. If it speaks of the things and promotes the things of God, then it may be acceptable.

 

What is Gospel music? It is music that praises, that worships, that sings, that exalts the goodness of God. No one has to look a particular way to sing, it does not belong to one  particular group nor do you have to dress a particular way to sing it. Lara George, Andy Mineo, Daughters of Glorious Jesus, Oslo Gospel Choir,  Jesus Culture, Shirley Caesar, True Worshippers, Benjamin Dube…are different artists, sing in different languages, dress differently but they all have something in common. That is Jesus Christ. Spreading the message of Jesus through music. Now, that’s Gospel Music! 

P.S. these are all my opinions. You can disagree if you want

Stay Blessed

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Made in Africa

 

I love opening magazines and looking online for styles that l can send to my seamstress in Ghana to make into Ntoma (Twi word for African printed cloth) or Kente dresses, skirts and trousers etc.

My Seamstress made a simple Ntoma skirt with a peplum like end inspired by the Balmain Skirts in its Spring Summer 2014 collection. I paired it with a red lace top.

Made in Africa 1

African prints has indeed inspired Western Fashion and the fashion industry. It can be said it became ‘mainstream’ between 2009 and 2010. It is not uncommon to find African like prints in the high street as well on the catwalk. Fashion Brands like Matthew Williamson, Etro, Roberto Cavalli, Givenchy (and many more) have all had ‘exotic’ collections pop up now again. Celebrities like Solange Knowles, Michelle Obama, Gwen Stefani and Rihanna have embraced Ankara prints and styles. Seeing the influence that African fashion has had on the fashion industry as a whole and the strong desire for it (which has increased over the years), it is safe to say Ankara, Ntoma and Kente is here to stay.

African designers like Christie Brown, Duro Olowu, Lisa Folawiyo (Jewel by Lisa), Ituen Basi, Deola Sagoe transformed what was considered a local trend into a global trend, where everyone wants a bit of African prints. These designers reinvented traditional Ankara and Ntoma styles, for the modern woman and man. 

Franca Sozzani (Editor-in-Chief of Vogue Italia) believes that the Africa has the potential to develop into something like the brand and stamp, Made in Italy (See blog post Place to Visit- Victoria & Albert Museum’s ‘Glamour of Italian Fashion 1945-2014’). I agree! I truly believe that ‘Made in Africa’ has great craftsmanship and can be seen as a sign of style across the world.

I think I’ll write a detailed blog post on the development of Made in Africa and the Rise of African Fashion soon.

In the meantime, here are some more pictures of my outfit

Made in Africa 2

Made in Africa 3

Made in Africa 4

What was I wearing?

Red Lace Top- Marks & Spencer

Ntoma Skirt-Made by my seamstress in Ghana

Black bag- Marks & Spencer

Shoes- Zara

Stay Blessed

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Great Women Of The Bible- Lydia

 

Lydia-The Woman of Purple

Bible Reference-Acts 16:12-15;40

Family Background-The Bible does not mention Lydia’s family background.

Name Meaning-Lydia is a Greek name meaning woman from Lydia.

Who is Lydia?

The Bible introduces Lydia as a woman from the city of Thyateira and a seller of purple. Thyateira is in modern day Turkey. Paul and Silas went to Philippi where they met Lydia and stayed with her. Lydia was a seller of purple, which was a type of purple cloth. Thyateria at the time was a well known place for the purple cloth.

Why is Lydia great?

There is little known about the life of Lydia in the Bible but what the scripture tells us is great. The Bible describes her as a worshipper of God. When Paul and Silas met her on that Sabbath day, she was among women in a place of prayer. The fact that Lydia worshipped God demonstrates that she was a religious woman. Although the scripture tells us Lydia was a seller of purple goods, Lydia still had time for spiritual matters. She did not let her business and her work take over what was important, which was worshipping God. However being a religious person is not enough, the belief in God is not enough, being saved is enough.

The Bible tells us that Lydia’s heart was open to receive the word of God from Paul and along with her household she was baptized. This highlights Lydia’s hunger for God, she wanted more than just being a religious woman, she wanted to be for God and to be saved. She opened up her heart and received Christ as her saviour. She is seen as the first European Christian convert.

Lydia was also an hospitable woman, she opened her home to those who helped her to become a Christian. Through her newfound faith, she was kind and gracious to give a place for Paul and Silas to stay and help them with their needs. She invited  Paul and Silas to her house even after they had been in prison.

What can we learn from Lydia?

We can learn from Lydia story the importance of wanting to hear the word of God. The Bible says she opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul. Not only did she hear what Paul had to say, she acted upon it. To heed is to give careful attention and regard to something. So, Lydia listened to things spoken and took it into consideration. Sometimes we hear messages of God and that’s it. We go to Sunday church service and hear the sermon and that’s it. God wants us to heed to the things he has spoken. We should learn to listen and apply the word of God to our lives as Lydia did. It is important to listen, the Bible tells us that faith comes by hearing the word of God. Lydia abided by that and was willing to listen.

Secondly what we can learn from Lydia, is her eagerness for her to be saved and abide by the word. The scripture tells us that her along with her household was saved. She obeyed what Jesus had said, that being baptised was a important and necessary condition to be saved. In Mark 16:15-16  Jesus called for all to preach the Gospel and that who believes and is baptised shall be saved. 

Thirdly we can learn from Lydia is her kindness and hospitableness. She was a true Christian in opening her home to Paul and Silas. She was not ashamed also of the Lord’s prisoners.

Stay Blessed

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Place to Visit- Victoria & Albert Museum’s ‘Glamour of Italian Fashion 1945-2014’

Italian Glamour 3

A couple of weeks ago I went out with my brothers to Victoria & Albert Museum. We went to see the Museum’s exhibition ‘Glamour of Italian Fashion 1945-2014’. The exhibition started from 5th April 2014 and will continue to 27th July 2014.

Italian Glamour 4

The exhibition explores designs after the second world war to the present day. The clothes on display were breathtaking and just seeing the craftsmanship that goes into designing clothes is extraordinary. We also learned what the ‘Made in Italy’ brand means to designers, creative directors, artisans and writers. Franca Sozzani (editor-in chief of Vogue Italia) defined Italian fashion and ‘Made in Italy’ as quality, creativity, glamour, richness and unnoticeable luxury. Additionally, what was fascinating to see was the business aspect of the Italian fashion industry and Angela Missoni of the Italian fashion house Missoni commenting on the lack of support from the Italian government.

I thought Fausto Puglisi’s commentary on Italian fashion was very interesting:

I trust so much in Italian art and craft. That is something I like to do. I can never accept to do something out of Italy. I believe so much in sacrifice in fashion. Rome wasn’t built in a day and that’s for me the same thing. I mean a dress is not built in a day. A dress needs to be fitted, a dress needs to be sewed, a dress needs to be amazing. And if we think about the big names in fashion we think about sacrifice. Sacrifice means that fashion is your obsession and fashion is the only girlfriend and boyfriend you can have in life. Fashion is the only obsession, there is nothing else than fashion.

Francesco Cianferoni, Gucci Artisan:

On average a modeller has more than 20 years of experience. A prototype artisan, more than 10 years. I personally have done this job for 37 years. Obviously, our values are tradition, “Made in Italy” and quality. These are, of course, constantly challenged by innovation, which we must confront every day to have a young product that keeps up with the times.

Of course, during the making process the bags are assembled by hand, sewn with sewing machines, etc., but there is always a large human component – that is what determines the expected final result. We are talking about productions that were made in the 1960s and 1950s, and are still made today in the same manner and using the same tools. We draw a lot out of our historical archive.

We work with living materials. Leather changes according to tanning, dyeing… so many factors. The product always has to be followed from beginning to end, as every product is unique; each piece of leather is different from another. So it is not an assembly-line job, but a job requiring concentration, analysis and passion.

It made me appreciate fashion even more than I already do. The passion that goes into creating high fashion pieces is clearly visible in the exhibition. I am happy that I have brothers that equally love fashion as I do, we enjoyed ourselves so much (fashion geeks ha).

There is a book with the history of The glamour of Italian Fashion that you can buy from V&A’s gift shop. I can’t wait to read it!

Italian Glamour 5

Italian Glamour 6

Sadly, I could not take pictures of the exhibition. They were really strict on photography-sad times. You all need to see the beautiful clothing in the exhibition. It is only £8 for students. I want to go again!

Italian Glamour 2

Go check it out!

Stay Blessed

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