Small music and champions of pop culture

Bhangra-world-record Found myself listening to a heavy piece of theologizing on Friday by Graham Cray otherwise known as Bishop of Maidstone.  As I was driving to an afternoon meeting. I thought of him this morning as I was pondering whether and when Bhangra (that crossover of pop music coming from the Punjab but turned by the UK Indian community into a global phenomenon) would be accepted as English folk music in its own right. And one in the eye for the BNP who no doubt want to trace our folk roots music back to the Ice Age.

Graham Cray spent much of the 1990s at Greenbelt Christian art festival championing the cause of what I would call 'small' music. Popular. Not serious.  Deconstructing music of all genres and using it to do cultural analysis. Talks on Madonna,  Radiohead, Bowie and Michael Jackson. I remember this because it doesn't sound promising. Putting a dog collar and a guitar together is normally a recipe for a gag or a disaster but Graham carried off these lectures with aplomb.  He went on to run a college which trains vicars and then as bishop led the initiative which produced Mission Shaped Church the closest thing to a marketing document the Church of England has. I don't expect ever to see the likes of Graham Cray on a BBC arts programme. But he and many others like him have worked tirelessly to take popularly culture seriously for saying serious things as well as giving us bubble gum music as a soundtrack to live to. He's a hero of mine – I don't think he's deconstructed bhangra yet but I'd love to hear him do it!



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