The African gospel music sector is a particularly unique one in the music industry.
It even has completely different origins and growth spans from gospel music in other parts of the world due to influences such as the culture and tradition of the African people. If you are curious and want to know more about this industry, read on to find out more about what the African gospel music industry is all about, its history, and some of the most distinguished artists associated with it.
What is African gospel music?
Gospel music in general is a religious style of music that is the typical sound of the Christian religion. The African gospel music industry is practically gospel music infused with African elements. It is as diverse as diverse can get. The industry is loaded with all sorts of genres like gospel hip-hop, gospel R&B, gospel soul, and even more recently gospel trap.
The peculiar thing about African gospel music is that it is incredibly versatile. This means virtually any instrument can be used to produce an African gospel track. Most contemporary African gospel tracks feature keyboard notes, drums, trumpets, or saxophones. African gospel songs are typically laced with messages of hope, joy, and restoration which are all found in the bible.
Gospel music generally is one of the fastest growing industries in music with a mind-blowing fan base. The sheer number of sales being made annually has been estimated to be more than 500 million.
History of gospel music in Africa
Gospel music in Africa has a fascinating history. A big part of African gospel music can be attributed to the visit of the missionaries to Africa. The missionaries brought with them new ways of doing things including singing. These new styles of songs were the beginning of gospel music in Africa and they were mostly performed by the choir during church services.
The reason why African gospel music is so distinct from gospel music in other parts of the world is that African gospel music is largely influenced by African culture and language. Even after the genre was introduced, the African people still found a way to infuse their authentic sounds, rhythms, and beat into it thereby creating a seamless blend of melodies.
Notable African gospel artists
They get you worshipping and praising. They usher you in the presence of God with their spiritual songs. Here’s a list of the most prominent African gospel artists.
- Nathaniel Bassey
Nathaniel Bassey comfortably ranks among the top African gospel artists. Some of his melodies like ‘Onise Iyanu’ are among the most appreciated gospel songs in Nigeria. His smash hit song ‘Yeshua Hamashiach’ blew up in many parts of West Africa. Apart from being an award-winning singer, Nathaniel Bassey also plays the trumpet. His love for incorporating the Nigerian language has added a lot of flavour and originality to his songs.
- Benjamin Dube
Hailing from South Africa, Benjamin Dube is one of the most prominent South African gospel music artists. He has spurned out beautifully written songs like ‘Xa Ndiyekelelwa’, ‘Jeso Rato La Hao’, and ‘Bow Down and Worship’. Benjamin Dube wears many hats. He is a pastor, multi-instrumentalist and award-winning gospel music artist.
This gospel music artist is at the top of his game when it has to do with the East African gospel industry. Sam Lucas Lubyogo better known as Levixone hails from Uganda. In 2021, he gained victory at the Rhema East African Awards where he cinched the award of best African gospel artist. That award served to further display just how talented the singer is.
Sinach’s place in this list is undisputed as she is one of the most popular gospel music artists in Africa. She has been recognized as one of the most influential artists in the last decade. Some of her most notable songs include ‘I know Who I Am’, ‘Way Maker’, and ‘He Did It Again’. The foundation of her career was built mostly on Believers Loveworld International where she makes music alongside other gospel music stars like Frank Edwards and Ada Ehi.
Challenges of the African music industry
Just like every other sector of the industry, the African gospel industry has its obstacles. One major limitation to an increased reach is that some people believe that the music style is too religious for them. As a result, a few artists who ts have tried to switch genres to gospel music have been shunned by their previous audience.
Others argue that in the industry, there is no solid structure. Quality promotion in particular tends to be a major challenge for many African gospel artists. This problem when not properly addressed is what leads to poor sales and a smaller reach. One factor that contributes to this poor promotion issue is the lack of resources, especially funds which are needed for so many reasons.
The fact that there is inadequate financial support for the average African gospel singer is a major challenge. For some reason, some people seem to believe that just because it is gospel music, it should be free and hence they do not compensate these upcoming gospel artists properly for performing at live shows or doing collaborations with them.
Despite the challenges, African gospel musicians continue to push through in an attempt to change the narrative and elevate the industry to a better place than it is right now. With hope, optimism, and consistency, African gospel music artists continue to do an exceptional job by uplifting people.
African gospel music has been feeding the souls of the African populace for a long time. The spiritual style of music associated with the charismatic movement has now become the typical music style for a lot of Christians in Africa. The top artists in the industry continue to do Africa proud by consistently churning out quality African gospel songs. One thing is certain; if you are looking for a way to boost your mood and spirit, put on some good African gospel music and you will be good to go.
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