1919 – 2019 100 YEARS OF BRITISH BLACK MUSIC
The American jazz band the Southern Syncopated Orchestra on tour in the UK in 1919
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2019 marks the centenary of British black music, as it's 100 years since the
Southern Syncopated Orchestra became the first modern black band to
visit these shores. Gradually the original members were replaced by black
players from the British Commonwealth who brought their own sounds
to the American jazz, creating uniquely British music. It's this openness
to outside ideas combined with a spirit of creative independence that continues
to shape our black music and is being celebrated this year.
Black Sound is still at
The Bernie Grant Arts Centre
Town Hall Approach Road
London N15 4RX
Until the end of the year
Detailing100 years of black British music, the critically acclaimed Black Sound exhibition uses sound, vision and unique visuals to mark the important events, salute the players, honour the entrepreneurial spirit and DIY culture and to big up the thinkers who laid the foundations for what we enjoy today.
"a magnificent teaching tool" – Eddy Grant
“A secret history pulled up before your eyes – you see the 20th Century of British music differently.” – Mark Cooper, Head of BBC Music TV
"testament to what can be achieved with a fiercely independent and DIY ethos" – Metro
"a wonderful exhibition ... I encourage everybody to come down and have a look" – Jazzie B
L-R: June Reid; Lynda Rosenior-Patten (both of Nzinga Soundz); Rudy Ranx; Young Warrior: Nicole-Rochelle Moore; Dennis Bovell
Carnival in the Time of the Sound System
Saturday August 10, I had a brilliant afternoon at the BFI hosting an afternoon of rare film clips and discussion
about the Notting Hill Carnival, UK sound system culture and how the two came together to create a very black London-focussed affair. It was part of the BFI's African Odysseys season, and the panel – see above – were as informative, opinionated and frequently hilarious as you'd expect them to be, and put to the test by an equally informed audience in the lively Q&A session. Big thanks to David Somerset, Jo Strachan, the BFI, Simon Somerset,
Bob the Selector and everybody who came along.
Hennessey 4 The Culture
As part of the fabulous Get Up Stand Up Now exhibition currently on at Somerset House, London WC2R 1LA, Hennessy, one of the event's main sponsors, have created their own adjacent rooms, celebrating contemporary London black music (see left), and the cognac's own heritage of supporting and encouraging black music and culture around the world. As author of Sounds Like London, I was invited to co-curate and narrate the listening posts for the two rooms.
Hennessy 4 The Culture has free admission and will be at Somerset House until September 15.
Music Book of 2013: Financial Times, NME and Daily Telegraph
“Breezily written but politically astute and critically sharp” – The Guardian
Dizzying in its scope yet meticulous in its attention to detail, written with passion, style and gusto – Independent
"far more engrossing than most bland football memoirs" – The Sunday Times
"a warm and engaging read" –the Sunday Post
"more than just a pop star autobiography – a charming, candid, laugh-out-loud story of survival, triumph, spirit and sheer force of will." The Daily Telegraph
All BFI photos by David & Simon Somerset