Live Review: Divine Unity at Chapel Bar (London, April 21)

The ladies of Divine Unity sure know how to have a good time on stage as manifest at the ‘Formidable Fusion’ showcase in London’s Chapel Bar on Wednesday.  This super fine trio of talented females, Martina, Sacha and Sharlene, met as tots in their local South-East London church and have been singing together in some capacity ever since.  They currently have plans to take the scene by storm and are so far doing a convincing job of it, recently winning the coveted prize in the Cordless Competition.

Divine Unity sing about God, life and love.  Yes, this is Gospel music but not as you might stereotype it.  Remembering that the term ‘Gospel’ refers to the content rather than the form, the trio fuse their R&B vocals and smooth harmonies with Rock and Ska rhythms alongside more traditionally soulful vibes.

Writing all their own material Divine Unity lyrics have an accessible, pop simplicity to them; for instance on the Madness/Suggs-influenced ‘Realise’.  Sometimes the sentiment is a little too sweet but not fatally so.

The girls’ set is a democratic affair.  Lead vocals and harmonies are evenly distributed amongst them, making sure that the band live up to their name and no one member overshadows the rest.

The ladies give it plenty of attitude on stage without taking themselves too seriously, facilitating a swift connection with the audience.  In time, a little of the girls’ individual personalities comes through the performance too.  Spunky Sharlene has a glint of harmless mischief in her eyes, Sacha oozes laidback sophistication and despite being the youngest, Martina’s warm smile gives off a non-dowdy maternal air.

With the dearth of decent harmony groups of late some of us might need reminding of how good it sounds when it’s done properly.  If so then you could do far worse than to catch Divine Unity in action.  The group look and sound sumptuous and as they continue to grow in their artistry, this is a musical journey that will be very interesting to observe.

–Tola Ositelu