Vision Logo Circle

£25,000 Prize Money For a True Christian Song!

by | Fri, Feb 10 2023

Text size: A- A+

An exciting initiative has emerged from the UK encouraging Christian musicians to write songs with lyrics that accurately portray God’s Word. The Firstfruits Music Awards is the only premier global Christian Music Award that provides an opportunity for all Christian artists to submit, released or unreleased material and be in the running for a whopping grand prize of £25,000 which equates to approximately $44,000 Australian dollars! It is the highest value prize and honour available to emerging and undiscovered Christian artists. The strict limit placed on the total number of song submissions permissible in the competition means that all who enter will have a realistic chance of winning a cash prize.

The Firstfruits Music Awards is sponsored by The Guild of International Songwriters and Composers (GISC), the United Kingdom’s top industry body for songwriters, composers and music industry personnel. Nigel Swaby, President and founder of Firstfruits Music Awards joined Neil Johnson on 20Twenty to share information on this exciting initiative.

‘Music is very emotional. It touches people’s souls and with the right message can bring people to the foot of the cross, especially when broadcasts are heard in countries where Christianity is prohibited,’ said Nigel. ‘I see music as an effective vehicle to touch people’s souls on a global basis.’

Over the years, Nigel noticed that contemporary Christian music seemed to be moving away from biblical values towards a sort of sensory, emotional, touchy-feely God rather than the God of the Bible.  And some songs didn’t seem to have any Christian reference to them at all. Nigel said that while God represents love, it is not a full representation of who He is.

While songwriters don’t need to be theologians, they do need to understand theology to an extent so their lyrics accurately reflect the message in their songs. One example is the Australian band, Sons of Korah whose lyrics are based on the Psalms. They are independent of a music label so that gives them the freedom to stay true to God’s word.

Profits Above Honouring God

The music business is run by three large conglomerates, under which are multiple labels. Artists who are signed with major labels find there’s usually tension between what the record company wants them to do, which is to sell massive tracks and make them loads of money as opposed to portraying an accurate and inspirational message based on God’s word. When push comes to shove, it’s the artist that ends up compromising to the demands of the record company to produce music that is lacking in any sort of Christian message and sounds much the same, based on a formula that works to sell records, which are songs with emotional elements that draw people in. These songs sell albums, regardless of whether the words are biblical or not. The focus is on profits above honouring God.

Watering Down Christianity

Nigel has observed a watering down of Christian messages over the years. This does not apply to just songs, but church sermons as well.

‘Everybody likes Jesus to be their saviour, not so much their master. They all like the idea that God loves them. But the sting of judgement isn’t so nice. And I think the church has become secular, especially with bigger operations where you see stage productions where the pastor comes down from the ceiling on a rope. It’s become theatrical,’ said Nigel. ‘So the Gospel message is being diluted, Christianity is being diluted. People become less focused on God and more focused on their emotions, so, of course, they’re going to prefer feely touchy songs.’

International Panel of Judges

The Firstfruits Music Awards are open to Christian musicians around the world. So far, there’s been an amazing response with entries from India, Uganda, Nigeria, Australia, UK, Canada, the USA, and the tiny island of Malta. And to ensure an appreciation for the cultural differences from international entrants, Firstfruits has invited prominent music industry figures from multiple countries to be on the panel of judges.

Dave Thompson, from South Africa, was the former Director of Marketing and A&R at BMG Africa and Sony Music Africa for 17 years. He was responsible for international and national labels including Arista, Columbia, Epic, Ariola and J Records. He was a music supervisor for Big Brother, Fear Factor, Project Fame, and was a founding judge for South African Idol‘s talent show.

Alvin Taylor, from the USA, is a world-renowned musician and record producer. His debut concert as a drummer was in 1967, at the age of 14, when as a member of Little Richard’s band, which included Jimmy Hendrix and Billy Preston, opened for Elvis Presley in Las Vegas. Alvin’s credits include touring with Elton John, Natalie Cole, Bob Welch, Ronnie Wood, George Harrison, Eric Burdon, Sly Stone, Billy Thorpe, Ike & Tina Turner, Cher and Bill Withers. Alvin is a Producer for Capitol Records and Director of Artist Development at the niche label Hoods and Associates. Besides his passion for music, in 1984, Alvin became an ordained Christian minister.

Graeme Press, from Australia, is an internationally acclaimed music professional best known as Music Director for Australia’s Carols in the Domain in Sydney and Carols by Candlelight in Adelaide. Graeme has worked with Josh Groban, Engelbert Humperdinck, Katherine Jenkins, Leo Sayer, Jessica Mauboy, Dami Im, Mark Vincent, Kate Ceberano, Jimmy Barnes, Lee Kernaghan, Troy Cassar-Daly, Samantha Jade and Hugh Sheridan.

Jay Laga’aia, is from New Zealand. His career spans almost 40 years and includes roles as an actor in Australian television, radio presenter, songwriter, musician, educator and children’s author. In his early years, Jay toured with the Christian band Certain Sounds in New Zealand. He has written music for TV and film, produced several albums and is a recipient of numerous awards for both acting and music including four ARIA nominations for children’s albums. Jay believes music is the universal language and that lyrics must come from a place of truth so that your message can resonate with those who need to be healed and inspired.

Muyiwa Olarewaju, from the UK with Nigerian heritage, is an award-winning radio and television presenter, singer songwriter and worship leader who has dedicated his life and career to proclaiming Christ through media. Muyiwa is the first international artist to perform on America’s popular entertainment channel BET, for the prestigious annual Celebration Of Gospel show. Muyiwa is the presenter of CBN’s Turning Point International, with a global reach of 70 million people and for many years has been the voice of Sounds of Africa. In the UK he is the Station Director at Premier Gospel, the UK’s leading Christian media and radio station.

The Firstfruits Music Awards will be based on a Seven Step methodology for song assessment by the judges and include public voting. This ensures the winning artist will have demonstrated their ability to produce high quality, commercially viable, biblically based songs with audience appeal that honours God.

Cash Prizes for Public Reviewers!

The Firstfruits Music Awards are specifically for independent or unsigned artists. Apart from having a highly-esteemed panel of judges, the public has been invited to register as public reviewers. They will have the opportunity to review the top scoring 24 songs based upon a subjective view on whether they like the songs or not. While these reviewers may not be music professionals, they represent the general public of listeners, who are in effect customers.

‘Having public reviewers who send messages to each other on social media will create a buzz, and public reviewers who provide insightful, biblical critiques have the opportunity to win cash prizes themselves,’ said Nigel. ‘There are two major cash prizes. A grand prize and a runner-up prize and while thousands of people will apply, so as not to disappoint anyone, Firstfruits will make a pledge to donate £5,000, which is around $9,000 Australian dollars to missions. This is Firstfruits commitment to the kingdom.’

Nigel makes it clear that the Firstfruits Music Awards is not a money-making venture. The aim is to add value to the artist, the listener and Kingdom missions.

To find out more information on the Firstfruits Music Awards, visit:

This article was inspired by Nigel’s interviews with Neil Johnson. To listen to both interviews, click on the link below: