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British Library to host "first of its kind" exhibition on Black British music

The mammoth exhibition will feature 200 exhibits spanning 500 years of Black British music

  • 19 April 2024
British Library to host "first of its kind" exhibition on Black British music

The British Library has announced a groundbreaking exhibition celebrating Black British music, which is set to run in London from April 26 - August 26.

Beyond the Bassline: 500 Years of Black British Music will be the first major exhibition to document five centuries of Black music in Britain, exploring the "people, spaces and genres that have transformed the landscape of British music."

Through soundscapes, artwork and film the exhibition is set to chart the influence of Black British musicians, creatives and entrepreneurs, spanning musical genres from classical, gospel and jazz to reggae, jungle and afroswing.

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"It is a celebration of the trailblazers and innovators that brought new music to the UK, and the layered Black experiences that have birthed a thriving musical culture and history", reads the exhibition's website.

The mammoth exhibition will feature 200 displays including interviews with Fela Kuti, and Shirley Bassey, memorabilia from locations of cultural music significance such as Scotland's Reggae Klub and The Four Acres in London.

Costumes worn by Patti Flynn, visual art by Errol Lloyd, jazz musician Gary Crosby's musical instruments and more will also be on display.

Several events will take place throughout the exhibition including performances and talks from Jamz Supernova + DJ Paulette, George the Poet, Ezra Collective and a 'Late at the Library' party thrown in collaboration with Black British online radio, No Signal.

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"The exhibition represents a timely opportunity to broaden our understanding of Black British music and situate it within a historical conversation," lead curator Dr Aleema Gray tells Mixmag.

"Black British music is more than a soundtrack. It has formed part of an expansive cultural industry that transformed British culture."

Tickets are available now from £15. There will also be "Pay What You Can" days on the first Wednesday of every month.

A number of the events will streamed live online and viewing links will be available on catch-up for 48 hours following.

More information can be found on the 'Beyond the Bassline' website.

Belle Richardson is Mixmag's Digital Intern, follow her on Twitter.

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