The production notes also reveal an incredible testimony. Roger had miraculously survived an horrific car crash (the pictures of the damaged car - also in the inlay notes - have to be seen to be believed).
Their music and writing subsequently took on a even deeper, more intimate and heartfelt passion, justifiably making 'Live In London' the instant classic it has become.
Prior to that I'd come across Roger's name as a guest feature on a track from Alan Charles' excellent 2004 debut album 'Da Plan', where his vocals were a smooth foil to Alan's Reggae DJ lead on 'Lord I Lift Your Name On High'.
In 2008 Roger and Sam emigrated, making Atlanta, Georgia, USA their new home and in recent months have had a great international response to their music right across America and the Caribbean. 'Live In London' has gone on to be nominated for several awards internationally.
I'd been meaning to do a quick profile piece on them for quite a while (many thanks to Marcia Dixon for trying to organise my original hook-up several months ago). Then through the networking power Facebook, I was finally able to get in touch with Roger.
Roger and Sam are in the fairly unique position of being UK artists currently fronting a project created in the UK that's receiving an excellent international response. I wanted to find out how much being UK artists played a part - if it did at all - in any of this.
A few email exchanges between Roger and I later, and we were good to go...
It's probably best if we get some context. How do you define your music style...?
'Classic Christian music'. The reason why we say classic is that our music was made with the intention of it being timeless. We did not want to make an album with all the latest sounds and riffs that would sound dated within the two or three years.
The idea of this album was to write at least one anthem that would be sung for a 100 years, like 'Amazing Grace', or 'Great Is Thy Faithfulness'... I think we may have achieved this with 'Awesome Wonder'...
I'd certainly agree with that. You two are one of our many music ambassadors spread across the globe. How does your sound compare with the traditional American Praise & Worship format?
I would like to think that what we do is different from what they do.
Americans do what they do very well, but you have to remember that the sound you are hearing out of the different states are culturally related to the state or region they live in.
The new praise and worship style of people like Israel (Houghton) and Martha Munizzi, have come from a sound that was developed with a mixture of black and white influences. So it is really hard to compare our style with their style as our cultures are fundamentally different.
For example our musical background comes from 3 primary areas:
1. British: Sam grew up in London, with all the influences of England as our home: the
language, the food, the people, school etc. That affects the music we make and the sound we
2. America: we all grew up listening to the Winans, Commissioned, Bebe and Cece
(Winans), The Hawkins, Andrae Crouch, the Clarke sisters, you name it…
The influence of America cannot be denied. In the early years, I (Roger) sang in a group
called Source Of light in London and we were rated on how much we sounded like
We even started giving our selves nick names according to the members of Commissioned!
Lord help us!
3. Caribbean: I (Roger) lived in Jamaica for nearly 19 years as a young man. It goes without
saying that the music of the islands are a part of me and even though you may not have heard
it on the last album, it's definitely present on the new project.
We'll hold on the new project for a minute. I want to explore a bit more about UK and USA styles... What are the similarities and differences from where you're standing...?
The similarity from our prospective is the common understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ and Him crucified. We sing about the same saviour. As a result the similarities dwell in the fact that we have the same goal in ministry and that is to present the gospel in song, or worship in song.
The difference in our opinion is simply this: in America there are a few different ways of looking at gospel and Christian music. Gospel here in the US is not only a ministry - it’s also a genre that is treated like any other musical genre.
As a result you will find artists in the industry that are not necessarily "saved" as we know it, but just love singing gospel music and have made a living from doing so.
Needless to say that doesn’t happen in the UK …to my knowledge.
You're now based in Atlanta. What do you see that people like about the way you as a UK artist approach your craft and music...?
We live in Georgia, a really beautiful city. Sunshine for 12 months a year and though it gets a little cold during the winter months, the sun still shines throughout the winter - we like that!
Well, apart from the fact that Americans love our accent, especially Sam’s, we keep hearing the people say our music takes them to another level.
We are hoping that what they sense is the anointing on our lives which seems to show up greatly at all of our performances.
Having said that i feel that the UK have a lot to learn about the industry, and i feel that the United States is a very good place to start as there are many good examples of that here.
And in light of that what do you think the UK has to offer the world?
Our uniqueness is paramount! We don’t only have lots to offer America we have lots to offer the world!
When God calls for a UK artist He doesn’t expect to see a US artist or an Australian artist show up. He’s calling for what he has put inside of us as UK artists. It’s unique and we should never insult God by trying to be anyone else
Your debut album 'Live in London' is getting a great response pretty much wherever you go. Why do you think that is...?