15 October 2013
Sandra Godley, MOBO nominee
'Gospel diva' Sandra, born in Bristol of Jamaican parents, grew up listening to the likes of Aretha Franklin, Amy Grant and Jessy Dixon. She began performing at just 12 years old and went on to perform at conferences, festivals and front two bands. With three albums under her belt and the GEM award for best gospel newcomer, Sandra's passion as a singer, songwriter and gifted communicator is contagious.
What were your beginnings?
I guess I was a typical West Indian Pentecostal church girl. My parents sent me and my brother to church and I jumped into everything; youth group, choirs and bands. Later on, I joined a secular band to gain more professional experience and I began singing in pubs and clubs. I deliberately wanted to learn how to be in front of audiences who didn't respond with an 'amen'.
Where does your song writing inspiration come from?
In 2005 I realised that God was calling me to write. I started on my first album called Sweet Surrender but that time was very challenging - my father died of cancer and tragically my producer died in a car accident. These were people who had inspired me so it was tough and I had a lot of questions. I held on to my faith, kept being real and expressed myself into song.
Is your music only for a Christian audience?
Not at all. I always remember a statement from Cliff Richard in the 70s, he said he likes to be known as an artist that happens to be a Christian. I didn't realise at the time how profound that statement was but I agree. I have no problem singing in a secular environment - that is what I do. Our gifting and talents are to be used everywhere not only in a certain situations.
Is there any music that you will turn off instantly?
Until I'd been to Nashville I'd have said that it was Country music but I discovered there are different shades of it so now I love it.
What about fame?
I'm old enough now not to be dazzled by it all. Fame is great but knowing how to handle it is vital. Fame is fleeting and very deceptive - it is like a butterfly that can go and land on someone else anytime it pleases.
What has been your best moment so far?
The tour with Jessy Dixon, known as the king of gospel, in 2008 was a highlight. He is an American artist and that experience was breathtaking. Finally getting signed to Nashville based label C&C Music Group was amazing, after years of sending in demos and of course being nominated for a MOBO award.
Do people write off gospel music because of religious words?
Yes, I think they do. I always talk about gospel music as being about both the music and the words. The musicality is amazing and people are drawn in by that. Others love it because of the words. The challenge for Christian artists is to decide who they are singing their message to. I sing to both audiences. I don't just do gospel to Christians. I aim to translate that concept to people who have no experience of God. It needs to be in language they understand and everyone can be inspired!
What would you like to see change in the music industry?
There needs to be more training on the business and leadership aspects of the industry. I have realised how important it is to understand marketing and social media. A dream needs to be sustainable - finance, plans, and good choices. There are different challenges for women as opposed to men because we need to think about family and home. I waited until my children were older before I signed a contract as you can't just go off on a tour or plan a concert whenever you like.
I am so excited and honoured to have been nominated for a MOBO award, it's going to be a great night. People often ask me if 'Godley' is my stage name. It isn't, it's my real name and I just love it! I would like to share some of my experience and journey with younger people starting out in the music business.