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A Bible remix to stir the soul of Gospel lovers

IMPORTANT THEMES: Dr. Robert Beckford (photo credit: BBC)

ONE CONCLUSION you will come to after listening to the new project from University Professor Dr. Robert Beckford, Britain’s most well-known black theologian, is that you’ve never heard anything like it.

Always innovative, Dr. Beckford is gearing up for the release of The Jamaican Bible Remix music CD in February. It aims to bring to life the Jamaican New Testament Bible, translated from the original New Testament Greek to patois, and to create a new socially conscious gospel, which Professor Beckford says will entail “kicking out the selfish praise music and promoting the politics of Jesus”.

The Jamaican Bible Remix music project, which has been supported by the Bible Society, is Dr. Beckford’s brainchild. He believes it will help UK artists hear what socially conscious gospel music could sound like. He explained:

“The spirituals were always communal, very political and talked about the God of struggle and justice. With Thomas Dorsey it gets mixed with the blues and becomes less concerned with social and political justice and more with individuals.

"What I wanted to do was develop a Gospel tradition in Britain that would take much more seriously the traditions of the spirituals than Gospel music.” He says of the album:

“What I’ve tried to do with this album (the cover is pictured above - photo credit: Canterbury University) is construct a new vision of Gospel music as a social political message rather than an individual message that concerns personal behaviour.

"On another level I’ve tried to make each track much more complex in terms of the theological thinking that is taking place.”

Dr. Beckford is keen to get people thinking theologically about the Jamaican Bible and a socially conscious gospel. He co-wrote the featured songs which draw on some important themes in the Patois Bible with Tony Bean of 5am Records. There’s a homage to black women in the song Magnificat based on Luke 1, which features Reverend Rose Hudson-Wilkin, while Social Justice reminds us why Christians need to be socially conscious.

The result is an album with a myriad of musical styles which includes Drum’n’Bass, Reggae, Grime, and Jazz, performed predominantly by Birmingham-based artists including Reggae DJ, Witness.

The album will be launched at Birmingham’s The Rock Church next month.

Dr. Beckford is best-known for his TV programmes which look at the intersection between society, culture and faith. His screened documentaries include the Secret History of the Disciples, The Hidden Story of Jesus, and his most recent screened documentary, The Battle for Christianity which was broadcast on BBC One.

He is working on a radio play about a Christian detective that has the spirit of discernment – that is to be able to read people well, and has hopes that it might become a TV show.

In the interim Dr Beckford will be praying that The Jamaican Bible Remix hits the mark. The Jamaican Bible Remix will be available for free download on February 25.

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