WASHINGTON (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — A coalition of gospel artists, songwriters, industry executives and church leaders announced the formation of the Gospel Artists Progressive Movement, a new alliance that has pledged to raise awareness of music industry business practices.
The non-profit group aims to educate gospel artists about recording contracts, copyrights, publishing rights and other financial business issues that have emerged recently as the genre's popularity has risen.
Gospel music – which annually accounts for more than $1 billion in record sales in the U.S. alone and close to 10 percent of all music types sold – has only a handful of superstars among the more than 1,000 recording acts and performing groups. G.A.P. will call for education and reforms that may allow hundreds of talented and successful artists to review and improve the current compensation structure and preserve artistic freedoms.
"I earnestly support the mission of the G.A.P. Movement," said the group's chairman, the Rev. Robert Lowe, pastor of the 4,000-member Mount Moriah AME Church in Queens, N.Y., host of the I.Gospel television show and a former gospel music artist himself. "It's long overdue that we seek to bring more equity for all persons involved in this industry," said Lowe who also operates a small gospel label, Moriah Music Group.
Other members of the GAP board include: Brenda Culpepper, former president and owner of PepperCo Records, Dean Rev. Jerry Streets, Battell Chapel chaplain at Yale University, gospel superstars James Hall and Grammy-nominated Twinkie Clark of the Clark Sisters.
"I have labored in this industry for more than 15 years. It is great to see artists, executives and educators come together and learn from each other and empower ourselves," said gospel legend Hall, whose albums are consistently atop the Billboard Gospel charts.
Added Pierre Redding, president of AG Media Group, the parent company of GospelCity.org the nation's number one gospel music website, "It's high time someone stands up and declares that it is not business as usual. Gospel music has to be held to a higher standard.
Streets, known worldwide and the author of several books, added, "It is imperative that we protect our artists and empower them."
Culpepper, whose recording company has a long history of success, said gospel spans three spectrums: music, ministry and art form. "We should also not be afraid to ask the right questions, take ownership of our art form thereby strengthening our ministries," she said.
Clark, the Grammy-nominated writer of hits like "You Bought the Sunshine" and "Is My Living in Vain," added, "I just want artists to be knowledgeable about their rights," she said.
The G.A.P. Movement is calling for a gospel music business summit to be held this August where the group will also petition for the establishment of an artists, musicians and songwriters benefits system that would offer healthcare, retirement and pro bono legal services. –by CelebrityAccess Staff Writers