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Remilekun funked up gospel in her euphorically liberating single, Put Your Weights Down

The one and only luminary, Remilekun, is back on our radar with the momentously uplifting single, Put Your Weights Down, and once again, her unfaltering zeal has driven us to evocative euphoria.

Definitively proving that gospel doesn’t need to adhere to any genre, Put Your Weights Down put synthy funk and disco rhythms behind the ultimate good vibe anthem, which is destined to resonate with everyone. The universally infectious track hits every conceivable mark as it compels you to move to the beat and unshackle yourself from what is holding you back and down.

This is far from the first time that we’ve found reverence for the soulful force, but this new single which captures the electricity of a live performance reached the pinnacle of mindful exhilaration. The essential playlist staple will lift any mood as it encapsulates the artist’s journey from singing covers to leading a ninety-member choir. It mirrors the impact of her inspirational and transformational leadership – get behind her; you won’t regret it.

Raised by a single mother who instilled in her resilience and creativity, Remilekun’s music is imbued with the courage to overcome life’s storms. Put Your Weights Down is not just a song; it’s a narrative of perseverance and a beacon for anyone looking to rise above their circumstances. It’s Remilekun’s musical prowess and heartening background that make this track—and her—an essential presence in the landscape of gospel and inspirational music. I can’t help but adore her.

Put Your Weights Down was officially released on November 11; check it out on Spotify and YouTube.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Folarin & Keziah harmonised chapter and verse on the presence and power of God with their 2023 EP, Greatest

On November 1st, the award-winning Canadian worship music duo Folarin & Keziah delivered their ‘Greatest’ EP, which stands as a testament to their mission of forging a cutting-edge intersection across the convergence of Christian and contemporary gospel genres.

By weaving cinematically striking elements of rock, RnB, soul, funk, blues, and pop around the impassionedly upraising lyricism which taps into the salvation of faith and emanates the assurance of unfaltering hope, Folarin & Keziah orchestrated one of the most seminal devotional records of the decade.

If you’re looking to be liberated from fear and to vanquish semblances of incertitude, just hit play on the duo which has been repetitively celebrated by the Gospel Music Association and hear them harmonise on their strident reverence for the presence and power of God.

Stream the Greatest EP on Spotify or purchase the 6-track release via Bandcamp.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Unveiling the Harmony: An Exclusive Interview with Gospel Duo Folarin and Keziah

The A&R Factory Team recently had an enlightening chat with the much-loved Gospel duo Folarin and Keziah. They tell us more about what it’s like to work as a couple and take us deep into the creative glue of their wonderful music project which has inspired so much during these dark times.
How would you describe your brand of music to a new listener?

After much thought through the years, we simply define our sound as worship music. There is so much opinion about what constitutes gospel or Christian music genre and we’ve struggled to understand the key differences. For example, we observed that many artists that identify as black are automatically grouped into the gospel category even if their sound says otherwise. Similarly, very few artists that identify as white describe their music as gospel. This creates a type of artificial divide that has left us with more questions than answers in terms of defining a genre. We’ve decided to  focus on writing songs that reflect our Christian faith and express them sonically however we see fit. We have been privileged to minister in multicultural spaces and we have learnt that people just want good music and the genre stereotypes can sometimes hinder our ability to connect. We love and listen to several Christian and gospel artists but find that our music blend is genre-defying which gives us the opportunity to connect with listeners regardless of their color, creed and culture.

How did you both start performing together and what is the writing/production process like?

We both started our music journey on different trajectories. Folarin started leading worship in a local church in Nigeria in 1997 and has been doing so ever since. Keziah also started singing in the choir as a teenager in Nigeria but took some time off in her early twenties to focus on other ministry gifts in the church. After we got married in 2011, we both started singing at Talbot Christian Center, Nottingham, England where Folarin was a worship band leader. About a year later, we moved to Canada and continued singing in church as worship leaders in St Catharines and Hamilton, Ontario. We started writing songs and sharing them with members of our Christian faith community and this received an overwhelming response. It soon became obvious to us that we wanted to be more involved with music outside formal church settings. We started the band, Folarin & Keziah in 2018 and released our first album in 2019. Our song writing process is atypical as it tends to focus on inspiration and tapping into the moment. For example, I (Folarin) was having a conversation with a patient who was recovering from Stroke when the inspiration for Relentless (first album title track) was received. We were listening to a heated conversation about who the greatest basketball player is and we concluded it was basically impossible to pour the accolade of ‘greatest’ on any human being. We got to work and the song greatest (title track of sophomore EP) was born. Relentless was written in less than an hour to write while Greatest took over a year to complete. Once we create a song, we reach out to our team to arrange a recording with a live band off the floor. That typically results in a demo that needs additional productions for the final track. The next step involves background vocals jumping on the track before we finally work our way around the track to add our voices as lead singer.

As a couple, how do you find performing together and has it made your bond even stronger?

We really enjoy performing together and we continue to evolve as a duo as we push each other towards excellence. Performing together gives us the chance to spend more time together and travel together. However, contrary to what most people may believe, working as a couple is also fraught with the challenges you face when working with a family member. Performing together also helps us see each other in a different light and exposes to what we both act like when at work. With that knowledge comes more patience to learn how to complement each other and create great music without sacrificing our uniqueness.

Please provide more details about your label and how everything began?

We started God Colors Media Inc in 2019 as a creative start-up focused on producing, performing and publishing worship worship music that is undignified and genre-defying.  Like many independent artists, we invested a lot in music production and audio-visual gear during the pandemic when all studios were closed. Although we always wanted to have our own label, that period quickened the process. We decided to self-release all our music and control the production, distribution and promotion of our music. Having a label also allows us to retain ownership of our intellectual property since we write most of music ourselves. Our vision for the future is to support newer artists by offering more flexibility, creativity and control. As we grow in the music business, God Colors Media will help us maintain a larger share of any profits we make from music sales. God Colors Media is currently registered with the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN).

Your 2nd album was just released. Please explain to us how the project came together and what is next?

Our sophomore project, Greatest was released on November 1, 2023. The EP contains 6 tracks and is a collection from some of the songs we started writing during the pandemic. Everything to Me, the first single from the EP, was released at the end of 2022. This was followed with four singles Greatest, Long to Worship, Audience of One and King of Glory in 2023. We decided to feature our friend and one of the most dynamic worship leaders we know, Melina Dulluku-Fisico on the project. Melina is a singer songwriter, musician and worship leader in Ontario, Canada and listeners will get to hear her beautiful voice on Audience of One and King of Glory. Like our first album, all songs were written by Folarin & Keziah with Sam Williams (Toronto) receiving co-production credits. We have an album release and worship concert scheduled for November 12, 2023.

Last, what advice would you give a new musician who is just starting out in this game?

To anyone, thinking about creating music especially with a spiritual essence. Know your listeners, create music you love and look for people that you can work with that will offer great advice but not try to change your vision into theirs. Ultimately, time is the greatest revealer. So, learn to be patient while waiting for your music to be heard around the world. That itself is not a guarantee!

Hear their music on Spotify. See their creative journey on IG.

Interview by Llewelyn Screen

Seattle’s Christian Rock Reverend Ryan Graves Used His Credence to Create an Electrifying Alt-Rock Hit with ‘Enemy’

Impressively, Ryan Graves is fresh from the release of his second LP of 2023; far from new to the game, he became an integral part of Seattle’s Christian alt-rock scene in the 90s; with his latest album, Human, which stands up to the cataclysmic threat of AI, Graves definitively proved that he can still hit the high-fire mark.

With a rap-rock edge that is just as sharp as the ones carved by The Beastie Boys in the verses of the standout single, Enemy, and classic rock credence making its way into the choruses, it is an electrifyingly hair-raising hit that mainlines the adrenaline through the post-rock instrumentals that create a platform for Graves’ piously enlightening vocals.

Graves’ latest album, Human, was officially released on September 11; stream it on Spotify now.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Marygolds transcended space and time with the blues in their indie Americana single, Time Machine

The Louisville, Kentucky-hailing indie Americana outfit, Marygolds, made light melodic work of stripping away the past few decades and bringing a bygone era back to life in the standout single, Time Machine, from their eponymous 2023 EP.

Everything rests mellifluously easy on the timbre of the vintage bluesy guitar chords, which shimmer with early ’60s nostalgia as they drive the evocative instrumental arrangement under the gospel-esque vocals which reach the epitome of old-school soul. With the intimacy infused into the massive roots-wrapped production that could rival Father John Misty’s masterful work, Time Machine is so much more than an ode to the past; it’s a ticket back to soulfully sepia-tinged sanctity of it.

Perhaps even more remarkably, even though Marygolds left no clues to their 21st-century habitation behind in the cinematic gravitas of their work, their reverence for roots music didn’t come close to resounding as archaic. The outfit comprised of progenitors of modern blues is definitely one to watch.

Time Machine is now available to stream on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Essilfie took gospel out of the church with her lush trap hit, Prayed Up

Since making her debut, the Ghanaian soul and R&B singer-songwriter, Essilfie, has established herself as one of the most dynamic artists in the game. With no genre off the table, anticipating her next move is impossible, but it is always effortless to get in the groove of her latest releases; take her latest trap and hip-hop-infused hit, Prayed Up as the perfect example.

The gritty conviction in her spoken-word rap bars is only matched by the lush sultry appeal of the reverb that spills from the instrumentals in the single that breaks the monocultural could for starters and obliterates genre and geographical boundaries for a triadic triumphant exhibition of authenticity.

As luxe as a Jay Z hip-hop production, as soulful as a Sade single, and as introspective as, well, she set her own bar here, the single that speaks through an alter-ego to traverse themes of resilience and faith is one to meditate on.

Check out Prayed Up on all major streaming platforms via this link.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Megan Lynette paved the path to resilient redemption in her debut single, Broken

With her debut single, Broken, the Houston-born-and-raised contemporary Christian & gospel singer, songwriter and soulstress Megan Lynette helped her audience to find their missing pieces on the route to resilience and redemption.

Rather than shying away from the most painful facets of the human condition, the recording artist acts as the guiding light away from them by allowing her lyrics to traverse the themes of joy, struggle, healing, hope, and perseverance.

With vocal lines that drench the synthpop soundscape with stylish gospel-esque soul, Broken is an all-consumingly compassionate release that is ardently enlightening enough to resonate with anyone caught in the crosshairs of visceral pain, tragedy and confusion.

With her sophomore single, Only Hope, set for release in 2023, it is well worth following Megan Lynette’s career as it becomes illustrious in the coming months.

Broken is available to stream on Spotify.

Death can’t touch me now: John Leckenby sings with great faith on the Christian anthem, Promise

Knowing that his life is safe now despite the traumas of the world, John Leckenby is covered by the blood of Christ and has found his purpose now on the hugely motivating new single, Promise.

John Leckenby is a Fresno, California-based indie Gospel artist who shows us that he acknowledges the resurrection and sings with such love and care.

It’s like an anthem for my life,” said Leckenby. “It’s about the one promise that can sustain us in our lives, and that is the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”

Promise from Fresno-based worship leader and songwriter John Leckenby is a stunning song which shall help many find welcome warmth on a cold planet. There is so much drive and honesty here which is so heartening to see as we’re treated to a delightful soundtrack, by an artist who guides us into his current mindset.

Showing us the way to living a meaningful existence, this is the perfect song for anyone who wants to believe again.

If love is all that you need to live happier, surely belief helps fuse everything together.

Listen up on Spotify.

Find out more on IG.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen

Spotlight Feature: OTH€LLO introduced the future of Afro Fusion with his debut single, SZA 4 NGAZ

The Montreal-born, Harlem-based Afrobeat innovator OTH€LLO took gospel out of church and implanted it firmly in his ethereal dream of an Afrobeat RnB debut single, SZA 4 NGAZ.

Fittingly, after his music journey began by being introduced to Congolese gospel and secular soukous tunes by his Congolese immigrant parents, the sensuous single, which celebrates staying true to your roots while practising radical acceptance, finds plenty of room for religious imagery and tonality.

After a sensuously ambient RnB intro complete with saturated in warm delay indie guitars, SZA 4 NGAZ starts to tease hip-hop elements with the fiery canter of his verses before winding it all back down in the dynamically versatile hit that reached the pinnacle of Afro-Fusionist authenticity.

SZA 4 NGAZ is a sublimely promising start to OTH€LLO’s career. His carresively pure vocal lines paired with his down-to-earth lyrical style are enough to kickstart a new revolution in soul.

In the words of OTH€LLO:

“This song is an exploration of how growing my dreads again after cutting my first set was like falling again. It sonically narrates the process of self-love and self-acceptance through a fiercely Afrocentric and sexual perspective.”

After releasing SZA 4 NGAZ, OTH€LLO is back in the studio orchestrating his debut EP. If the forthcoming material is as arcane as his debut, you’ll want to save plenty of room on your radar.

SZA 4 NGAZ was officially released on the 1st of July; hear it on Spotify and SoundCloud.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Keep your RnB playlists pious with Freedom Worship’s single, I’m Gone

Keep your summer RnB playlists pious with ‘Summer Vibes The EP’ from Freedom Worship; the collaborative sun-soaked EP was created with the vision of providing the ultimate soundtrack to the summer while keeping gospel at the core of the soul. It is safe to say the passionate group of enthusiastic artists who banded together from a range of backgrounds succeeded in their mission.

Driven by their belief that they can positively influence the direction of culture, the limitless artists and innovators orchestrated one of the smoothest RnB releases of 2023. The standout single, I’m Gone, featuring vocals from Charlie Hill, is the perfect reflective soundscape for chilled summer nights. With lyrics that show you the way to humbled and emboldened gratitude and vocal lines so consoling that the single becomes a sanctuary, I’m Gone delivers endless solace to faith followers and those who find their own path alike.

Stream I’m Gone with the rest of the 5-track EP via Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast