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O’Neil Dennis: 'aStepFWD chart is a platform for everyone'

FOUNDER: O’Neil Dennis is the man behind the website

ONE OF Britain’s best known gospel music websites, astepfwd. com, celebrates its fifth anniversary tomorrow (March 29).

Artists from across the UK including Lurine Cato, Noel Robinson, Dire Pitan, KT Worship, Andrew Bello and Jake Isaac, will gather at Kensington Temple, London, for a concert, which will provide time to reflect and celebrate the website’s success during the past five years.

DIFFICULT
The website is the brainchild of O’Neil Dennis. He founded the site as a young Christian wanting to listen to UK gospel and Christian music.

He explained: “It was difficult to find UK Christian and gospel artists, everyone I turned to was pointing to US acts.

“I wanted to know more about the Christian scene and it was difficult to find the music.

“I thought, ‘Let’s do something that allows people looking for UK gospel and Christian music to find it’.”

The site has become the must go to place in cyberspace that people visit to get UK gospel and Christian music news, church news and to find out which artists have won a place in aStepFWD’s very own UK Christian Chart (UKCC). The chart showcases the best in UK music. Artists send in their new releases and a panel of UK gospel practitioners choose their favourite releases. The releases that get the most votes make it on to the UKCC. And Dennis is proud of the chart.

He shared: “It has provided a platform for everyone, whether emerging artist or established artists.

“There is a place artists can go to that allows people to find out what’s happening across the scene. It also encourages UK talent to stand strong and has been an indicator of where we are at and where we are going.”

The chart gets music from all Christian music genres from across the UK. Lately, they’ve been getting a lot of Christian music from Ireland.

“As the word spreads, we are finding people are so starved of platforms in and around their areas to do with their musical styles and genres, so they are happy for the work we are doing,” Dennis explained.

Aside from the charts, aStepFWD has, for the past two years, put on Poets in Action (PIA), an annual event featuring American poets that have a huge online following.

TIMING
Dennis has been surprised at the hundreds that have flocked to see the poets live here in the UK.

“It tapped into something, the timing was just right,” said Dennis.

“There were 1,100 people at the first PIA event, 1,250 last year and this year we’ve moved to the Dominion Centre in Wood Green, a much bigger venue.”

The poetry bug seems to be catching as PIA will also be performing at Big Church Day Out event later this year.

The future looks bright for aStepFWD and they’ve got lots planned for forthcoming months.

They aim to continue the masterclasses they started last year, are planning to bring back their music and media conference, and stage their Christmas live. In spite of the obstacles, Dennis and his team of volunteers have enjoyed it.

“It’s been a tremendous journey over the last five years. We at aStepFWD have been humbled by the immense support we have received as we continue to push and promote the countless great initiatives and talent within UK Christian and gospel scene. We’re thankful for the opportunity to serve such a vibrant community and are looking forward to celebrating with you all on March 29.

“Here’s to the next five years of growth!” Visit astepfwd.com for more information.

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