V&A East to showcase exhibition on Black British music

today01/11/2023 4

share close

V&A East is to run a new exhibition exploring Britain’s history of Black music.

Titled, The Music Is Black: A British Story the photography exhibition will tell the story of 125 years of Black music

From early pioneers such as Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Winifred Atwell, Emile Forde, and Janet Kay the exhibition will also showcase modern artists including Kano, Ms Dynamite, Little Simz, Jorja Smith, Sampha, Raye, Ezra Collective and more.

Read this next: New project explores the history between Black music and record stores

As well as Black music in Britain, the exhibition will highlight the influence and important international artists to echo its global impact.

Looking back from 1900 to the present day, visitors will also learn about dancefloors, club nights, recording studios and record shops, MC battles, festivals, Notting Hill Carnival and more.

The exhibition will shine a light on the social, historical, and cultural context behind Black music in Britain and explore a range of genres such as jungle, ragga, drum ‘n’ bass, trip hop, UK garage.

Iconic paintings, prints, posters, TV, fashion, photography, and film will be showcased in the exhibition.

“Music is the soundtrack to our lives, and one of the most powerful tools of unification,” says Jacqueline Springer, curator of the exhibition.

Read this next: South London in 10 tracks, according to Charlie Dark

She adds: “It brings collective and individual joy as we recite song lyrics at festivals and gigs, recall dance moves perfected in childhood bedrooms, and mime to guitar breaks, bassline drops and instrumental flourishes with glee.

“Set against a backdrop of British colonialism and evolving social, political, and cultural landscapes, we will celebrate the richness and versatility of Black and Black British music as instruments of protest, affirmation, and creativity, and reveal the untold stories behind some of the world’s most popular music of all time.”

Speaking about the exhibition The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan shared: “London is the music capital of the world and at the heart of that success is the incredible contribution of Black British artists. From Samuel Coleridge-Taylor to Stormzy, we’ve seen Black musicians inspire and influence our lives, and I’m delighted that V&A East Museum’s inaugural exhibition will honour this, alongside other partners from East Bank.

“Together we are creating a new culture and education powerhouse for our capital and this wide-ranging exhibition will be a wonderful example of how East Bank is helping us to build a better London for everyone,” says Khan.

Read this next: The exploitation of Black women vocalists in house music

Trevor Nelson, music broadcaster and presenter, has said: “There are so many different colours and shades of Black music and so many eclectic styles that have emerged from the UK. The fact that we haven’t had a national exhibition on Black British music is quite surprising to me. I feel it needs to be documented. But more importantly, to tell the stories that are untold.”

The Music is Black: A British Story will open in 2025 at V&A East. Find out more here.

Check out some images from the upcoming exhibition below.

Sam White, ‘Kano and Ghetto, i-D Live, Cargo, March 2005’

Jean Bernard Sohiez, ‘Coxsone Outernational Sound System, (L-R) Festus, Blacker Dread and Bikey Dread’

Eddie Otchere, ‘So Solid Crew’, Battersea Park, 2001

Syd Shelton, ‘Fans at The Northern Carnival Against Racism during The Specials’ set, Potternewton Park, Leeds’, 1981 Gelatin silver print, printed 2012

Becky Buckle is Mixmag’s Multimedia Editor, follow her on Twitter

Written by: Tim Hopkins

Rate it