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GMIA STATEMENT REGARDING GREGORY CAMPBELL DUP MP AND HIS REPORTED ‘RACIAL BAITING’ RE BBC SONGS OF PRAISE PROGRAMME
The GMIA (Gospel Music Industry Alliance) states that comments made by Mr Gregory Campbell MP regarding the BBC Songs of Praise series Gospel Singer of the Year are unfounded and demonstrate his ignorance of the genre. We fully support the recent broadcast of the programme.
We find it extremely odd that Gregory Campbell would take issue with a Christian programme celebrating gospel music because all of its participants were black. To make his argument Mr Campbell insists that gospel music is not (in and of itself) a black genre. However, it is clear that he fundamentally misunderstands the background and evolution of gospel music in this country and abroad. If he did, he would know that the overwhelming majority of participants in the gospel music community in the UK are black and have been for a long time. This is not news to most people.
Our own enquiries into the making of the programme indicate that appropriate procedures were followed and fell within guidelines published for production. We would also like to point out that, as indicated by the programme’s presenter Mark De Lisser, of the estimated forty-three or so people that made the show, nine of them were Black. So, whilst the show fronted an all-Black cast, Black people were still in the minority in the making of the programme celebrating a genre in which they dominate.
We further note the wider historical context of TV in general in the UK that has included all-white participant programmes or programmes with a single member of an ethnic minority.
Even if Mr Gregory’s views are genuinely held, he might have broadened his thinking enough to recognise that, at times, the redressing of a historical unequal balance of representation might require a bold move in the opposite direction if it is appropriate in all the circumstances and if the merits of the situation provide for it. We reject his implication that it is not possible that all of the finalists were selected due to merit given the processes followed by the programme. We, therefore, find his comments extremely irresponsible and divisive.
We are thoroughly disappointed that somebody holding such a public office would misuse an opportunity for celebration and turn it into an affair of dissension.
GMIA will continue to attempt to educate about, bring recognition to and support professional and amateur gospel music practitioners as they engage in the arts, culture and media with excellence across the UK and beyond.
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