It’s about time London had a big exhibition about Black British music. Black Britons have been responsible for grime, drill, dubstep, UK garage and so many more genres, and have been paving the musical way for years. The V&A East, a new Stratford outpost if the Victoria & Albert Museum, has announced its inaugural exhibition will pay tribute to just that with ‘The Music Is Black: A British Story’, which will open in 2025.
Spanning the past 125 years, ‘The Music Is Black’ will trace the story of Black music in the UK from the early twentieth century right up to the present day. It will highlight early pioneers like Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Winifred Atwell, Emile Ford and Janet Kay, as well as paying tribute to the artists of today like Kano, Little Simz, Jorja Smith, Stormzy and Ezra Collective.
It’s guaranteed to be an immersive audio-visual treat, too. With access to the BBC’s archive, the exhibition will have a soundtrack spanning generations, plus an evocative set design. Exhibition-goers will have plenty to ogle at: on display will be AV, large-scale installations, seminal musical instruments, equipment and personal belongings from some of the musicians.
Jacqueline Springer, curator of ‘The Music Is Black: A British Story’ said: ‘Music is the soundtrack to our lives, and one of the most powerful tools of unification. 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.’
If you can’t wait until 2025, these are the best exhibitions to check out in London this month.
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