Christian sound systems in Britain: its origins, functions and theology

Masters Thesis

Tracey, C. 2019. Christian sound systems in Britain: its origins, functions and theology. Masters Thesis Canterbury Christ Church University School of Humanities
AuthorsTracey, C.
TypeMasters Thesis
Qualification nameMasters by Research

The Christian sound system movement in Britain represents an exchange between ‘church hall’ and ‘dancehall’ which started in the late 1990s. This contentious engagement between ‘secular’ and ‘sacred’ spaces is related to the wider discipline of theology and popular culture. The aim of this study is to explore how Christians have engaged their faith within black popular culture; focussing on sound systems. Current scholarship has analysed sound systems in Britain through the lens of social theory, artistry and technology. This essay investigates the history and function of the Christian sound system movement in Britain through qualitative interviews with members of ‘Shekinah Sound Ministries’ and ‘His Majesty’s Sound System’. The controversies involved in the Christianisation of the ‘dubplate’ is discussed as well as the criticisms directed at the movement for using reggae music as a tool for evangelism in the early years. The data highlights the importance of the MC, selector and engineer as the primary practitioners involved in ‘ministering the music’ to the audience. The thesis positions the Christian sound system movement within the history of black Christian music in Britain. Both traditions draw from an African Caribbean heritage which then mixes in other contemporary styles to reflect a black British religious expression. This thesis extends the discussion further by searching for theological themes behind the Christian sound system performance which have been previously ignored in the literature. This paper suggests that the Christian sound systems in Britain demonstrate an interfacing of theology with culture.

KeywordsChristain sound system; Black popular culture; History and function; Shekinah Sound Minstries; His Majesty's Sound System
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Deposited30 Jun 2020
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