Stemming from the beginning of the 20th Century, when London’s Black population was less than 100, to the present day, the exhibition will indulge visitors in the vibrant life of Carnival to the thumping energy of club nights.
V&A curators have combed through the extensive BBC Archive to give a multi-generational soundtrack and brightly coloured set design to exhibit early 1900s pioneers like composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and current musicians such as rapper Little Simz, bringing them to life via first-hand accounts.
READ MORE: ★★★★☆ NO THANK YOU review: Little Simz continues her fine, uncompromising run of form
The showcase will begin a season of collaborative programming across East Bank in 2025, with contributions from partners like the BBC, Sadlers Wells East, UAL’s London College of Fashion and UCL East.
Looking at both the music and its place in wider culture, the exhibition will explore the origins of some of Black Britain’s most inspired genres, from Brit funk to grime and drill.
By now, you’re probably annoyed you’ll have to wait until 2025 to get to see this, but fret not; the V&A has supplied a sumptuous taster of what’s to come…
‘She Rockers (London RapDance Crew) Shepherd’s Bush Green, London’, 1988 C-type print, printed 2011 © Normski, Courtesy of Victoria and Albert Museum
‘Jimi Hendrix Experience. London’, 1967 © Linda McCartney, Courtesy of Victoria and Albert Museum, London
‘So Solid Crew’, Battersea Park, 2001 © Eddie Otchere
‘The Specials (L-R) Roddy Byers, Neville Staple, Horace Panter, Terry Hall, John Bradbury, Lynval Golding, Jerry Dammers, Hammersmith Palais’, 21 August, 1979 © Adrian Boot, urbanimage.tv
Poster advertising the music group Bob Marley and the Wailers at Brighton Centre, Brighton, 1975 © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
‘Kano and Ghetto, i-D Live, Cargo, March 2005’ © Sam White
‘Estelle & Ty’, Brixton, London, 2003 Stylist Myriam Djelliou, Make-up artist Brenda Cuffy © Jennie Baptiste
‘Stormzy performs at Glastonbury 2019’ © Adrian Boot, urbanimage.tv
‘The Selecter with Pauline Black’, 1981 © Adrian Boot, urbanimage.tv
‘Pinky’, London, 2001 C-type print Stylist Chinyere Eze, Make-up artist Brenda Cuffy © Jennie Baptiste Courtesy of Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Ms Dynamite, winner of Panasonic Mercury Music Prize Award 2002 performing live at Grosvenor house, London – 17th September 2002 for Mercury Music Prize’ Photo by Hayley Madden/Redferns
‘Linton Kwesi Johnson and Darkus Howe at the Race Today office on Railton Road Brixton’, 1979 © Adrian Boot, urbanimage.tv
Poster advertising ‘Dub and Dance’ at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, South Bank, 1988 © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
‘Skunk Anansie Performing at Glastonbury Festival, 1999’ Photo by Rune Hellestad/Corbis/Getty Images
‘Little Simz performs at The BRIT Awards 2022 at The O2 Arena on February 08, 2022 in London, England’ Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage
‘Eddie Calvert and Shirley Bassey’, England, 1957 Photographic negative © Harry Hammond, Courtesy of Victoria and Albert Museum, London
‘Fabio and Grooverider’ © Chelone Wolf
Poster advertising the performer Winston Reedy at Palais, Nottingham © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
‘(L-R) Ife Ogunjobi, Femi Koleoso, TJ Koleoso, James Mollison and Joe Armon-Jones of Ezra Collective onstage during The Mercury Prize 2023 awards show. Photo by JMEnternational, Getty Image
‘Janet Kay’ © Tim Barrow, urbanimage.tv
‘Tricky’, 2006 © Adrian Boot, urbanimage.tv
‘Coxsone Outernational Sound System, (L-R) Festus, Blacker Dread and Bikey Dread’ © Jean Bernard Sohiez, urbanimage.tv
‘Hi Tension’, 1979 © Adrian Boot, urbanimage.tv
Heatwave live in London, 1978 (c) Adrian Boot, urbanimage.tv
‘Winifred Atwell at piano’, England, 1958 © Harry Hammond Courtesy of Victoria and Albert Museum, London
As part of the exhibition, V&A East has commissioned a new film by Meeks & Frost (watch it below), the directorial duo behind J Hus, Pa Salieu and Kojey Radical’s music videos – with a new teaser trailer released today. With a dynamic collage aesthetic and narrative bringing together different generations and Black British musical styles, cuts of the longer form film will drop over the coming months ahead of the full release in 2025.
Is it 2025 yet?!
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