Paul Davis, a UK Christian music pioneer, died peacefully on Friday, May 6, 2011, in a hospice in the UK town of Leighton Buzzard, with his family at his side.
Davis, 67, was the founder of New Christian Music (NCM) – www.newchristianmusic.co.uk — and a fixture in the British Christian music scene, a record producer, the author of many books and a respected broadcaster.
“The family gathered around Paul on May 6th as he died. Fittingly they sang ‘Yes, Jesus Loves Me’ to him as he passed into Glory,” said his daughter, Laura Ewers.
She went on to say, “Back in February, Paul experienced tremors down his right side and ‘mini-strokes’ were diagnosed. However, following a brain scan the doctors discovered a tumor in his brain. Following a biopsy the Doctors told him that the tumor was terminal. He opted not to have treatment so that he could enjoy ‘quality over quantity’ in the last few months. These weeks were incredibly hard but there were also times of incredible laughter and memory-making-moments.
“He will be obviously missed by all of us at home, but his life also touched many, many people around the world.”
“NCM will continue as it has since February with me running it. I have worked for NCM since it began and Dad has handed it over with his blessing. As we grieve we have the hope that Dad’s passing isn’t a forever goodbye. As someone said ‘it’s a comma, not a full stop.’”
Laura Ewers then supplied this biography of her father’s life:
|Paul with his daughter, Laura Ewers|
Paul was born in Gilsland, Cumbria, in 1944. His father was away fighting in Europe and his pregnant mother was evacuated out of Newcastle to a stately home in Northumberland. Curly red-headed Paul didn’t meet his father until he was nearly two when he was discharged from the Army.
His father became a London City Missionary when Paul was five and travelled ahead of the family to set up home in Fulham, London. His father was based in a tiny mission hall from where he went door to door ministering in what was then the deprived area of Notting Hill.
It was at The Mission that a five-year-old Paul met his future wife Hazel who was just three! The families grew up together and the couple married in 1965. It was the start of a 46 year happy union.
Dr. Billy Graham arrived in London in 1955 for a series of rallies at Haringey Arena. It was at one of these meetings that the 11 year old Paul made his lifelong and life changing commitment to his Lord. He began teaching Sunday School at the tender age of 13 and preached his first of thousands of sermons at the same age! He spent hours preparing that first sermon, poring over the words and carefully writing them down, only to find that his sermon lasted a grand total of five minutes!
Paul’s passion for music began young and all his spare money was spent on “78’s”. He also began to make fledgling steps into journalism, submitting articles to local and national publications. This led to a catalogue of literally thousands of articles, album covers and music and book reviews for dozens of publications including: Billboard, Music Week, Christianity Renewal, Country Music People, Christian Herald, Country Music Roundup, Crusade, Buzz, Traditional Music Maker, Country Music Maker, Life Times, The Voice, Premier, Cross Rhythms, His Paper, Cross Country and Reader’s Digest.
Around 1970, radio producer Geoff Leonard was saying that they wanted to do a gospel slot on the Larry Adams show on Radio Medway. Overhearing the conversation, John Allam (a lifelong family friend) said ‘I know just the man!’ and so Paul began what was to be a lifelong career in broadcasting. From there he worked with Cliff Richard of BBC Radio 2 Gospel Road series. Over the years Paul DJ-ed for BBC Radio Medway, BBC Radio London (Bob Powell), BBC Three Counties Radio Capitol Radio, Ritz 1035, BBC Kent, London Broadcasting, Trans World Radio, United Christian Broadcasters and community Radio at Milton Keynes and Thamesmead. At Thamesmead he was involved in the license move from Community radio to full FM license at what is now called Time 106.8.
In 1974 Paul took a pioneering step by combining his love of writing, music, and his Lord by setting up Europe’s first Christian Music Magazine. From his living room and with support from friends and family, the New Music Magazine (later called NCM and then New Christian Music Magazine) ran for over 11 years. The magazine established Paul as “the man to know” in the UK for Christian artists across the world and particularly America. Their house suddenly became host to dozens of musicians enroute from Gatwick to their UK tours. The magazine finally merged with Buzz in 1985.
One Saturday in 1983 as Paul was in the shower an impressive looking envelope with a Royal Seal arrived at the family home and Hazel called through the bathroom door to tell Paul about it. He famously said, “It must be from the Tax Man!” However the envelope revealed an invitation to Buckingham Palace! The invitation was to receive an award on behalf of the pioneering work done on the community radio station at Thamesmead. He was immensely honored to meet the Queen and said that it was like talking to a “familiar friend” and that she had “perfect skin!”
His contacts and sheer expertise in music led him to set up a music publishing company and record label called New Music Enterprises.
Amazingly, all this time Paul was working full time for the local council and National Health Service to support the family. However in the mid-80’s redundancy struck and an opportunity opened up for him at the world’s biggest Christian music label Word Records in Berkhampstead. This meant moving the family 150 miles away to Bedfordshire.
As he and Hazel looked for houses they happened upon their current home. It was out of budget but the moment Paul set foot inside, his first reaction was that this was an ideal place for Bible studies! The price was knocked down and in July the family moved. Leaving Bromley was sad as there were so many life-long friends left behind and leaving the local church, Mayeswood Christian Fellowship where Paul was an elder was hard.
In 1986 the couple set up an informal Bible study in their new home and by 1987 Leighton Christian Fellowship became an official Independent Evangelical church with Paul as a co-elder – a position he still held until his death. The church grew rapidly and finally settled in Vandyke Upper School. Paul’s passion for the Word was evident as he preached regularly, took pastoral responsibilities and encouraged his congregation in their giftings. He was always the first to pray, usually first to arrive in the morning and last to leave! His passion for music was evident throughout with him often starting songs spontaneously and singing a solo during his sermons. He was the towns current longest serving member of the “clergy”.
After leaving Word (UK) Paul took up a position as head of the civilian staff with Luton Police.
It was around this time that Paul started to fulfill an early ambition to write books mainly about Christian music. A catalogue of 10 books followed about hymns and Christian figures. He was commissioned to write the official biographies of 50’s crooner Pat Boone, International Ambassador of Country Music, George Hamilton IV. and Billy Graham long-serving singer, George Beverley Shea. This book ran out of print in the USA. His books were published by Harper Collins, Zondervan, Word, Readers Digest, Henry Walter, Ambassador, Authentic and others. (More information on this at: www.pauldavisauthor.com)
Paul’s expertise naturally took him into the studio to work as a producer on hundreds of albums.
Paul earned a Doctor of Literature degree in 2001, Master of Arts in 2002, Bachelor of Theology 2003, and The European Theological Seminary made him a Fellow in 2004. He was ordained in 2003.
“Retirement” in 2000 was definitely in inverted commas as he seemed to become much busier! Paul’s desire to help grassroots Christian musicians led him to set up New Christian Music by creating a promo-disc which is sent out to 500 media personnel around the world each month. NCMdiscs have helped literally thousands of musicians to get their music heard and recognized. The company held their 5th Annual Awards Weekend in February where musician’s from around the world came to sing and worship together. Paul always saw the event as a chance for musician-aries to meet, network and encourage each other. Sadly he was too poorly to attend the last event but watched the DVDs with tears of pride, encouragement and happiness streaming down his face.
Note: This work will continue through his daughter Laura.
New Christian Music spawned the New Christian Music Radio Show which is distributed to over 360 radio stations around the world, and his last broadcast was made hours after leaving hospital in March. The show will continue, proudly handed over to life-long music-brother Roger Hill.
In the 80’s Paul was the first European director of the USA’s Gospel Music Association and founder of the UK’s Christian Music Association, the British Gospel Music Association (now CCL) and finally the UK Christian Music Alliance, which Sir Cliff Richard became the patron of. He has worked with the “Who’s Who” of Christian and Country music Johnny Cash, Amy Grant, Bill and Gloria Gaither, George Hamilton IV, Yazz, Dana and hundreds more.
His marriage to Hazel was happy and fulfilling. Paul appreciated Hazel’s support every step along the way. Hundreds have experienced their hospitality and Hazel’s dinners have become famous across the Atlantic! He never missed an opportunity to tell his “blondie” that he loved her. Paul began holding Hazel’s hand at the age of seven and continued to do so right until the end of his life.
He may have led a life of achievement, but if you were to ask Paul what his biggest achievement was, he would say that it was that all of his children had come to know and love the Lord. He was immensely proud of them all. He was so thrilled when Anita became a missionary in the US, Mexico, Thailand and Korea with Youth With A Mission. She is now a pastor’s wife in a church in Dudley alongside her husband Ed McGirr. Wes became, what was Paul’s secret ambition, a Christian singer. Many was the time when he would “well-up” introducing his son on stage along with his wife Sue.
Laura stated that she has taken over the running of New Christian Music, she inherited her dad’s administrative brain and spent precious times with her dad learning the ropes in his last few weeks. Her husband (another Paul) shared a passion for football [soccer] with Paul and was often found at the house dissecting Newcastle United’s defense!
In 1996, Paul was in America to meet his first Grandchild Nathanael, who was just 3 hours old. He was followed two years later by Rachel and later by Daniel and Jessica. They will remember their Granddad for his love of cowboys, McDonalds, Newcastle United, singing loudly in the car and being funny. He excelled in his role as a granddad and took every opportunity to show them off. It gave Paul great pleasure to lead the dedication service for each of them as babies.
Back when Paul was a boy, he vividly remembered how his own father had gone ahead to set up the home for the family in London. He often recalled in his sermons how he remembered seeing his dad waiting for him and his mum on the station platform with arms open to greet them. The family looks forward to a similar reunion with him in heaven. As his youngest grandson Daniel (aged four) said, “Granddad will say ‘Where have you been? I’ve been waiting for you?’”