Marking the seventh American tour in less than two years to launch from the United Kingdom’s Zoe Records, The British Are Coming Tour 2011 has garnered much attention and many fans with its latest diverse cast of artists.

Originally established to promote a 21-cut album of the same name, the tour has featured 10 artists so far, the latest being British gospel sensations Coco Dupree and powerhouse of the same label, Deborah.

While Gospel music in America is a full-fledged industry with its own heavy hitting stars that transcend a check in any certain box, the genre is no where near as popular in areas like the UK. The artists were surprised that the United States has two very different types of Christian music: Gospel and Christian Contemporary.

“Gospel is an underground industry in the UK so we try to do what we can in America,” said Dupree. Similar to how American artists cross the water to break into the European music scene before major success in the US, singers and songwriters of the UK often try their hand at the business in America to really make a name for themselves in their native country.

“Even though I enjoyed growing up and listening to gospel, I identified with it because it’s what I believe. Gospel is the basis of my faith and it has helped me shape my life,” said Deborah, whose latest album, From the Heart, has won over a whole new batch of American fans. The London native’s first single from the album, Sovereign King, has rocked crowds from Richmond to Delaware with its infectious hook and heavy bass. Influenced by the likes of Richard Smallwood and Kirk Franklin, Deborah says she has also gleaned from groups like Mary, Mary.

Frequently mistaken for being a duo, the two are actually two independent artists who often provided background vocals for each other while partnered on tour. “Doing background vocals for each other has really enhanced their stage performance and individually it has expanded their ability,” said Zoe Records’ American representative, Marnita Coleman, who traveled with the artists during their month long tour of North America. “You would think they’ve been working together for years.”

With the edgy style and hard hitting vocals that easily switch into fluid rhymes on her latest album, Fall and Rise, Dupree says her experience in the secular music world had a significant impact on her music and her life. “I realized it really wasn’t for me because the passion wasn’t really there. Being outside of the church really made me want to help and I wanted to tell someone about it and be real.” Raised on established favorites such as The Winans Family and Commissioned, Coco Dupree says as a result of a marginal European gospel market, most of her influences are American.

While on tour the ladies also experienced an American Thanksgiving, their first crazed Black Friday, and a taste of nightlife in Baltimore and surrounding cities. The British artists thoroughly enjoyed themselves while performing and experiencing venues outside of traditional churches such as Eden’s Lounge, where they attended the Women of Power networking event.

The two also used their thirty days in the United States to connect with local artists such as Kissi B, who draws crowds to Amour every Friday, and Jeff Bradshaw, know as Mr. Trombone in Philadelphia.

Including stops in Wilmington, De. and Richmond, Va., Deborah and Dupree say their tour of the states has been a very wonderful experience.

“Baltimore feels like home and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it,” said Deborah, who admits that in her short time in the city she has become addicted to 7-11 Slurpees.

Aside from working on her upcoming album, Distance, Dupree says she would love to work with Tye Tribbett and Deitrick Hadden with artists such as Fred Hammand topping the list for Deborah. Both ladies hope to be a part of The British Are Coming Tour 2012.

Alexis Taylor

AFRO Staff Writer