2012 has only just begun and I already love its sound. Last week, the soulful young singer/songwriter Michael Kiwanuka received the prestigious Sound of 2012accolade, topping the BBC list of the most exciting emerging artists. His first television appearance on Jools Holland’s show was described as “a tender moment of humanity in the midst of Bjork's chirruping and the scrappy bombast of the Chili Peppers”. His beautifully crafted songs are peppered with spiritual lyrics and contain a considerable gospel influence.
“Oh my, I didn't know what it means to believe. But if I hold on tight, is it true? Would You take care of all that I do? Oh Lord, I'm getting ready to believe. We'll be waving hands, singing freely. Singing, standing tall, it's coming easy. Oh Lord, I'm getting ready to believe."
Having grown up in Britain after his parents fled the regime of Idi Amin, Michael ascribes his growing love for music to the influence of his schoolteacher in Muswell Hill, who encouraged him to play and explore various musical styles. In the midst of the bombastic drums of league tables, the annual middle class scraps for the best schools and the chirruping of a narrow academic focus, Miss Ogilby’s affirmation helped shape her pupil’s musical capacities to their full potential - a tender moment of humanity indeed.
We can all contribute to such a distinctive Sound of 2012. Investing our best in people. Composing new sounds in harmony with God’s Spirit. Writing new lyrics that resonate with timeless truths and melodies that do not harmonise with the dominant popular tunes. For, while dissonance sounds less than "harmonious" to some ears, it is a requisite part of most compositions - without it music tends to command little attention.
This week the BBC launched The People's Passion, a brand new choral work that can be performed by people across the country at Easter. Schools, existing choirs and those still to be formed in communities or at work can be part of this nationwide premiere - “a moment of national harmony”. Alongside it, five new plays on the daily life of people working in a fictional British cathedral will be broadcast, containing new compositions. During Holy Week, the drama and music will draw people into the Easter story.
2012 is only two weeks old, but each week has brought a new, fresh and creative sound, the resonances of which can be endless - the harmonies of which can truly glorify God.
“A moment of national harmony” may be too ambitious a key to hope for, but “…singing freely, standing tall, I'm getting ready to believe” that God is composing something new.
May we be sensitive to the sound of God’s Spirit and flexible to follow where it leads us, for: “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit." (John 3:8)
Marijke Hoek, coordinator Forum for Change - Evangelical Alliance