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History of Black British music to be explored in new exhibition

The exhibition will open at the British Library in 2024

The British Library and the University of Westminster have announced a new exhibition exploring the history of Black British music. 

The partnership have teamed up to educate audiences on African music and its contributions to the UK, spanning over six decades, from the evolution of its pioneering sounds to the lasting influence on contemporary pop music. 

The British Library will be compiling research from their collections alongside the University of Westminster’s Black Music Research Unit. The exhibition will also build on the work of the Bass Culture research project, which is led by the University of Westminster. As the first major study of its kind, it focused on London's Black community and its impact on dance music, a contribution that has consistently been overlooked throughout history. 

Content will be available in community collections across the country, while organisers hope the exhibition will encourage the public to engage in wider conversations surrounding Black British identity. 

Mykaell Riley, Director for The Black Music Research Unit and Principal Investigator for Bass Culture Research at the University of Westminster, said, “We cannot change the past, but we can use history to impact the present and influence the future.” He went on to explain that the exhibition will provide an opportunity to “rethink Black music contributions to British history, culture, and popular music.”

Revisit our feature on last year’s Dance Can't Nice exhibition that explored South London's Black music scene. 

You can also read our feature on how Black-led music organisations are creating opportunities for emerging talent here.