Interview with Audrey Gray, Gospel Music Industry Alliance
Audrey Gray has over a decade of experience in the gospel music industry, as well as touring, event production and artist mentorship. Being passionate about mentoring others and helping creatives to take control of their careers, Audrey founded ArtisteHub. During the pandemic, she was headhunted for the role of CEO for the Gospel Music Industry Alliance (GMIA).
Below, we dive into the world of gospel with Audrey, touching on the impact gospel music has on a national and international scale, the development of gospel music over time, tips for growing gospel artists and much more.
Tell us about your musical journey and how you came to be CEO of the Gospel Music Industry Alliance UK?
Audrey: I have been working in the Gospel music industry for over a decade, cutting my teeth on the Caribbean music industry while living in Trinidad & Tobago. When I returned to the UK I established ArtisteHub which provides artists, event and tour services. When the pandemic hit I started to offer a free 30 min mentoring sessions to encourage creativity during an extremely challenging period for all of the entertainment sector. This led to me hosting ‘Gospel Topics’, an online discussion forum looking at gospel industry issues and solutions. In fact, that was the basic rule of the forum…any raised issues must be followed with solutions. Written findings were produced some time after. Some of the Directors of GMIA were attending these discussion forums and reviewing these findings. It was shortly after this I was approached and offered the post of CEO.
Can you describe the gospel music scene in the UK and its relation to the international scene?
Audrey: The worldwide gospel music market is so varied from country to country. Gospel music communicates across a wide range of genres using music messages, cultural characteristics and lived experiences to express itself. When you think about the melting pot of the UK and take into account all of the above, the UK presents a unique mixture of African, American and Caribbean expressions that have been key to inspiring not just those territories but across the European music market. UK gospel continues to build and claim its identity, influencing the commercial markets as well as the gospel community.
Our definition of UK Gospel Music https://www.gmia.org.uk/about-us/
Which gospel artists are you really enjoying at the moment and want to shout out? Can you tell us a bit about their music?
Audrey: My ear is very tuned to REALLY listen to music, that’s my vocal coaching background, so my song choices are built on many things and change regularly. More recently my ears have been drawn to;
Rae Rae — RnB artist with a bold voice that owns the genre and message she sings about.
Reblah — Rap/Grime plus Afro vibe with a strong word based message, Reblah uses his culture and the genre to deliver bangers!
Bianca Rose — RnB soul, sometimes described as alternative RnB, has an easy listening vibe with interesting arrangements that will have you on repeat.
V9 Collective — Soul/funk band, a great inspirational sound with messages accompanied by the classic funk groove they have become famous for.
Jerub — a great example of an indie sound with soul. A voice you could listen to all day and music production is of high level!
How has the sound and style of gospel music developed and what kind of range of artists and sounds are there these days? For example in the recent GRAMMY Awards winners.
Audrey: The 2021 GOSPEL/CONTEMPORARY CHRISTIAN MUSIC Grammy category has highlighted just how varied the sounds, styles and levels that gospel music has extended into. There has been a very real exploration of musical styles over the last 5 years which just keeps growing and signposting gospel music.
For a listen to a range of UK Gospel/Contemporary Christian music go to https://astepfwd.com/category/chart/
What would be your three tips for gospel artists looking to take their career to the next level, from your experience?
Having work to develop artists careers and educate them on the industry, my three tips are;
1. See your music as a business and build accordingly.
2. Independent does not mean alone, plan with others who have an understanding of your goals and are there for the journey.
3. To encourage sustainability, promote your music, market your brand.My business website
How does the GMIA support its members and artists?
Represent — The Gospel Music Industry Alliance (GMIA) is a governing body for the Gospel Music Community in the UK and Ireland. The GMIA acts as a key representative with national and international creative industries bodies and funders, supporting initiatives that impact and improve our sector.
Resource — The GMIA offers subscription services that provide an online community, key resources, directory registration, and programs that support our Subscribers’ development at various levels.
Promote — As well as signposting music relevant activities and resources, we promote opportunities to our members and newsletter subscribers which range from jobs within the creative industries, music hire, welfare courses, educational programs and entrepreneurial training.
Unite — GMIA uses the collective voice of the community to highlight gospel music, focus development and reinforce legacy among those invested in the genre, the supporting art forms and the musical culture of gospel music. By uniting in these goals we achieve the data and community support to continue building.
Join GMIA https://www.gmia.org.uk/joinus/
We have a question for you from our last featured Artist Spotlight: How would you like to utilise your art to improve societies or local communities?
Audrey: I would like to see Gospel music represented and acknowledged for the impact and influence it has contributed across the creative industries. I look forward to developing projects that make room for creatives in a way that is sustainable and encourages a community culture that shares knowledge and fosters supportive working.
Our objective and plans https://www.gmia.org.uk/ourplans/
For social media to promote your interview, we would really appreciate it if you could answer the following question with three short bullet points:
What are the top 3 things you’d like people to know about gospel music?
● Gospel music is powerful, it influences almost every popular genre and continues to show its impact in the success stories of many mainstream artists, musicians and composers.
● Although choirs are a big part of gospel music, the presentation and genre list is wide and as it is creative..check it out!
● Gospel music is a creative means of delivering powerful messages with much needed hope and inspiration.