Religion

The royal wedding created a new ‘gospel story’

It was one of the highlights of the royal wedding. A gospel version of “Stand By Me” changed the life of choir leader Karen Gibson and, she believes, marked a cultural shift in Britain. Rosanna Philpott reports.

LONDON AND WINDSOR, ENGLAND, UK (REUTERS AND BBC STUDIO/ EVENTS UK SPECIAL) – Two weeks since the British royal wedding that broke tradition, and for the gospel choir that helped do it – bookings are through the roof.

CHOIR LEADER, KAREN GIBSON,

“I physically can’t even keep up with the emails and the messages – requests for interview and tours and weddings.”

Since the wedding – watched by millions around the world – Karen Gibson has been nicknamed the godmother of gospel:

CHOIR LEADER, KAREN GIBSON,

“I do get stopped every time I go down the road – photos being taken, sometimes they’re trying to pap you on the sly when they think you’re not looking.”

Karen’s Kingdom Choir is meeting up in their London stomping ground for a wedding debrief.

Everyone agrees – it’s been a whirlwind – of media requests and fan mail but there’s also a feeling already that this big moment for gospel has sparked a cultural change as a woman of color married into the very top of Britain’s establishment.

CHOIR LEADER, KAREN GIBSON,

“I feel there’s been a shift – I do – everybody loves a good wedding – everybody loves a good love story – and what you’ve seen in the royal wedding is the coming together of two cultures. It’s done that for gospel music I think it’s done something for people of color. I could feel something hanging in the air as we sung – it was a real moment.”

But this wasn’t what the choir would call ‘full on’ gospel.

CHOIR LEADER, KAREN GIBSON,

“They didn’t want any of that – normally we would click and bounce – but um – no.”

When Harry and Meghan met Karen to request the song ‘Stand by Me’ they all decided on a more simple, stripped back version.

CHOIR LEADER, KAREN GIBSON,

“It was right for the platform – and it was right for the world.”


Associated Links

  • BBC
  • Oral literature
  • Vocal music
  • Music history
  • Karen Gibson
  • Rosanna
  • Wedding
  • Stand by Me
  • Gospel