Universal Music Group Distribution is plotting a further expansion into the
Christian market, opening Universal Music Christian Group (UMCG). The division will be headed by Rhoda Lawrence, VP Urban Sales & Marketing at UMGD. As of yet, no other staff appointments have been made, according to an universal spokesperson.

The Christian branch will be actively seeking new labels to sign for distribution, and will also work closely with Universal Music Distribution, Fontana and Vivendi Visual Entertainment to develop new projects. Some upcoming UMCG endeavors include Hidden Beach's Sunny Hawkins and Onitsha, as well as Music World Entertainment/Spirit Rising double CD from Destiny's Child member Michelle Williams.

In a statement, UMGD president Jim Urie says, "The launch of UMCG demonstrates our commitment to this important genre and belief that it will continue to be a strategic priority for us. While we have a literal treasure trove of music to mine from UMG and our partner labels, we're also excited by the quality of the other Gospel and Christian labels currently in the marketplace and look forward to providing them with the most innovative and service-oriented home in the business."

Some upcoming UMCG releases will include albums from Patti LaBelle, Mahalia Jackson, The Mighty Clouds of Joy, Al Green, Dixie Hummingbirds, Willie Nelson, Loretta Lynn and the Reverend C.L. Franklin.