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As city celebrates UK’s first Gospel Music Festival, organisers say it just had to be in Liverpool

10 months ago

As city celebrates UK’s first Gospel Music Festival, organisers say it just had to be in Liverpool
Credit: Liverpool Gospel Music Festival

Liverpool is set to become the home of the UK’s first ever mainstream Gospel Music Festival as artists including The Kingdom Choir, which sang at Harry and Meghan’s wedding at Windsor, get set to take centre stage.

Organisers say it will be the first of many as the festival grows in size over the next few years, and with the hope that, in 2024, international artists will be involved.

And they add it could only have started in Liverpool.

“Liverpool is an exciting, welcoming, warm and culturally rich city, with a vibrant arts and cultural sector and it has connections to, and a really important part to play in, the origins of gospel music,” says Helen Brown, development manager for festival organiser, Liverpool Lighthouse, “in its role as a slaving city, because gospel music is a product of the experiences of slavery, and as the place that has benefited from gospel music through its evolution into rock and roll, and exported it with people like the Beatles.

“If you follow the journey of music, that’s where you end up. And so, Liverpool has both helped in the creation of gospel music and benefited from it, so we feel like it’s the perfect place for the festival to celebrate the contribution of gospel music and artists.”

Liverpool Lighthouse, which is based in Anfield, is the national gospel music centre, and an Arts Council organisation with a remit to promote gospel music.

Lighthouse Choir
Credit: Liverpool Gospel Music Festival

Helen says:

“We believe gospel music has been under-resourced and has huge potential in the UK.

“We reckon about 60-70% of musicians supporting mainstream pop music in the UK are actually gospel music musicians, who came through gospel music and trained as gospel music musicians, but there’s no pathway for them in the UK at the moment to reach mainstream audiences.

“On the other hand we recognise that those mainstream audiences are interested in gospel music which is incredible. We saw it in the Coronation and Harry and Meghan’s wedding.

“So we really want to see change in this area, and growth and development of gospel music as a genre in the UK, to develop audiences who are clearly interested in it, and provide pathways for fantastic, talented artists.”

The festival coincides with a drive to make September Gospel Music Heritage Month.

Anu Omideyi, Liverpool Gospel Music Festival Director
Credit: Liverpool Gospel Music Festival

Helen adds it’s also good to be able to host such a huge event in the north of the city:

“Traditionally, residents in North Liverpool have to travel to different parts of the city; Liverpool Lighthouse is committed to creating change through bringing exciting and diverse arts and cultural experiences right here, to communities of North Liverpool; along with the economic benefits that go with them.”

And she says: “It’s going to be a beautiful day, it’s going to be fantastic.”

When is Liverpool Gospel Music Festival being held? 

It’s being held this Saturday, September 9, from 1pm to 9pm.

Where is it?

It’s at Stanley Park, Walton Lane, Anfield.

Who will be there?

There are loads of amazing artists appearing including headliners The Kingdom Choir, and a host of others: Called Out Music, Love & Joy Gospel Choir, Sarah Teibo, Sense of Sound, Lighthouse Choir, Volney Morgan & New Ye, DavidB, Hayli Kincade & Wavertree Gospel Choir, and NaffymaR.

What is gospel music?

According to organisers of the music festival, the Gospel Music Industry Alliance identifies UK Gospel Music as having derived from the African, American and Caribbean musical experience relating to the Christian faith, and say it’s had a major impact on the development of popular music throughout the 20th century. Yet, while ‘acknowledging and valuing’ its roots in Christianity, black culture and spirituality, it welcomes people of all faiths or none, ethnicities and identities. “We want people to come and enjoy the music and a beautiful, uplifting experience,” says Helen. “This festival is for everybody.”

SenseofSound6
Credit: Liverpool Gospel Music Festival

Is it just music?

Not at all, there’ll be loads of stalls with ‘interesting and diverse food from across the world’ and drink, and stall holders from Granby Toxteth market ‘selling all sorts of things’ will also be there. There will be a funfair for kids, health and wellbeing stalls, information, and other activities.

Can I bring my own food?

Although there will be plenty of food and drink to buy at the festival you can take your own if you want to, but it is a family event and a ‘dry’ event so people are asked not to take alcohol.

Are tickets still available and how do I get one?

Tickets are only £5 to make sure everyone can afford to go (children under 5 are free), and there are still some available but you need to order online in advance. You will be able to use your phone to pay at the gate on the day IF there are still any tickets left, but you can’t pay with cash.

How can I get there? 

Try and use environmentally-friendly travel if you can. You can get to Stanley Park and the festival via the following bus routes:

17, Liverpool

17A, Kirkby

17X, Knowsley Industrial Park

27, Anfield

68, Aigburth Vale

19, Kirkby

The 14, 20, 21 and the 310 also stop nearby.
The nearest train stations are Liverpool Central and Liverpool Lime Street which are a short walk to Queen Square Bus Station from where you can catch several buses to Stanley Park. 

You will be able to get there by car – postcode for your Sat Nav is L21 9JR – and there will be parking in the nearby Stanley Park Carpark.

Will there be seating?

No, there won’t be seating, but you are welcome to take your own chairs and blankets.

Find out more information about the Liverpool Gospel Music Festival here.

Find all the latest Liverpool news here.

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