(c’73-present) Garth Hewitt (guitar / vocal)
Local, or at least we could claim so from ’85 to the early ’90s, Christian singer / songwriter Hewitt released his first album ‘The Lion and the Lamb’ in 1973, with 43 other LP releases since then including the newest,’Easter Revolution’ in 2022 on GingerDog Records [GDCD0000132].
In ’73, Hewitt performed at the Billy Graham Organization’s Spre-e at Earls Court and Wembley Arena. He returned to the event the next year, the final Spre-e event, at Wembley Stadium to 22,000 strong attendees. This was recorded and mixed for Key, a New Malden based Christian record label, by R.G. Jones Studios and the compilation LP ‘Live at Spre-e Album’ was released later that year featuring Johnny Cash, Cliff Richard, Aleksander John, Choralerna, Malcolm & Alwyn, Graham Kendrick, The Advocates, and Hewitt.
The first Greenbelt was in ’74 and Hewitt played the event, going on to be one of the events Directors/Board Members for over 25 years. ’74 was also the year he released ‘I Never Knew Life Was in Full Technicolor’ on Myrrh. The success of Spre-e led to the Billy Graham Organisation organising Eurofest ’75 in Hevsel Stadium, Brussels at which Hewitt also appeared. After a two year wait, Hewitt released his third LP ‘Love Song For the Earth’ again on Myrrh in 76. The next year, Hewitt wrote the music for a film backed by the Christan relief agency, Tearfund, titled ‘A World of Difference’. This was the first of many collaborations with Cliff Richard who performed in the movie and which also featured Hewitt singing the title song. Then in ’78 Richard provided backing vocal’s to Hewitt’s “I’m Grateful” LP, another Myrrh label pressing. The year after Richard produced Hewitt’s “Did He Jump… or Was He Pushed?” LP, which was released by Patch/EMI, and went on to cover two of Hewitt’s tracks from that album. The first, “Did He Jump,” didn’t chart for Richard. Another Hewitt song, “That’s Why We’re Here” was selected as the theme for Granada TV’s Pop Gospel programme in ’79.
1980 saw Hewitt at both Cambridge and Oxford universities as part of Billy Graham evangelistic campaigns. This was also the year he was presenting the Pop Gospel show with Bernie Flint and when Myrrh put out ‘The Best of Garth Hewitt’ compilation album. He moved to Southern TV’s Reverend Roger Royale presented religious affairs show Royale Progress when it started in June ’81, but four weeks later the programme was axed. Another Hewitt song “Under the Influence”, from his LP of the same name released in ’81, was recorded by Richard, with Kenny Everett providing backing vocals, in ’82, using it as the B-side (except in the US and Canada) to his single “The Only Way Out”; which reach No.10 in the UK Singles Chart. Tearfund funded and was the label for Hewitt’s ‘Record of the Weak’ LP released in ’82. In ’83, the people of Uganda, nicknamed Hewitt “Namirembe” for the track of the same name, on his Indian and African influenced album, ‘Road to Freedom’; back on the Myrrh label, about a hill in Kampala, Uganda. Hewitt released two LPs in ’84, both on Scripture Union, titled ‘Mud on My Eye’ and ‘The Bride’. In ’85, Richard performed “A World of Difference” at The Live-Aid after-party. This was the second track from Hewitt’s “Did He Jump… or Was He Pushed?” LP covered by Richard. This was also the year Hewitt set up Godalming human rights charity Amos Trust and released ‘Alien Brain’ on Myrrh. Myrrh were also the label for the ‘Portfolio’ LP that hit the street in early ’87, followed later in the year by ‘The Greatest in the Land’ on Scripture Union. Hewitt was named International Artist of the Year at the Gospel Music Association’s Dove Awards 1988 in Nashville. That same year he released ‘Scars’. In ’89 Hewitt performed a concert in the Manchester church Sri Lanken refugee Viraj Mendis was claiming sanctuary to avoid deportation, to highlight the issue. Later that year he began touring with Stewart Henderson and Geoffrey Stevenson. The show was called ‘Broken Image’ and sponsored by TearFund focused on the plight of poor people in the Philippines and ran into 1990.
At the very beginning of ’91 the De La Raiz label put out ‘Un Nino es el Futuro’. Then, having encountered street children in Brazil, Hewitt wrote his protest song “Little Outlaws, Dirty Angels”, which appeared on the ‘Lonesome Troubadour‘ album in April ’91.
On the 12 April ’91 he appeared at St. Andrews Church, Goldsworth Park, 3 days after the release of the LP. In ’93, in response to the murder of Stephen Lawrence, Hewitt wrote “You Are Loved Stephen Lawrence” with the aim of raising awareness and protest against racism. Lawrence’s mother, Doreen, selected the track as one of her choices on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs. A productive year saw Hewitt release three albums in ’92: ‘Memories’ on Myrrh, ‘Blood Brothers with Ben Okafor’ on What? Records, and ‘I Shall Be Made Thy Musique with Penelope Cave’ on Eagle. The next year ‘Walk the Talk’ was released. Hewitt was appointed the Guildford Diocesan World Affairs and World Mission Advisor in ’94, a roll he held until ’96. During this time he released ‘Stronger Than the Storm’ on Myrrh and ‘The Greatest Gift’ on Bible Lands. In ’96 Hewitt began his four-part Journeys series on Myrrh. ‘Journeys 1, The Holy Land’ and Journeys 2, Africa’ arrived in ’96, the next year ‘Journeys 3, Asia’ was released and the year after that ‘Journeys 4, Latin America’ completed the series. Hewitt’s final album release of the ’90s was ‘Gospel Singer’ on ICC in ’99.
ICC put out Hewitt’s ‘The Dalit Drum with Paul Field, Christian Aid’ in ’01. Then in 2002, Richard’s ‘Now You See Me, Now You Don’t” album re-release included Hewitt’s “Under the Influence”. The following year, continuing his lyrical activism he wrote “Light a Candle in the Darkness” for peace activist Rachel Corrie on her death in Gaza. He also released ’30’ a double album and ‘The Road Home with Artist Daniel Bonnell’, his only release on SPCK. Three years later, in ’06 ICC was behind the ‘Stealing Jesus Back’ LP. Then there was one release a year on Amos: ‘Journeys – Africa – Wings of Love Over Africa’ in ’07, ‘Bethlehem, Palestine’ in ’08, and ‘Gaza, Palestine’ in ’09.
The next decade opened for Hewitt with the release of ‘Moonrise’. Working with Kevin Meyhew ‘Justice Like A River’ was released in ’12. After Mike Sanders, a lecturer in nineteenth-century writing at The University of Manchester, discovered a Chartist hymnal from 1845, he presented it’s advocacy of egalitarian principles in 2012. Hewitt put music to the hymms and released them in 2013 at the “Liberty is Near!” LP. In ’14 a six album stretch with GingerDog Records began with ‘Something For the Soul’ and ‘Songs From the Fifth Gospel’ that first year. Two years past before ‘Peace at Christmas’, and another two until the ‘Against the Grain’ double LP. ‘My Name is Palestine’ released in ’19 wrapped the decade.
Here we are now and Hewitt has produced a legacy of 44 LPs, a mere seven singles, one musical, two DVDs, has 11 books to his credit and nine songbooks.