Nov 1, 2023 1 min read

First exhibition at new V&A East museum to put the spotlight on black British music

The first exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum’s new site in East London - which will open in 2025 - will be called 'The Music Is Black: A British Story'

First exhibition at new V&A East museum to put the spotlight on black British music

The Victoria & Albert Museum has announced that the first exhibition at its new East London site - due to open in 2025 - will "reveal how black British music has shaped British culture".

Called 'The Music Is Black: A British Story', the exhibition will "celebrate 125 years of black music in Britain, taking visitors into the heart of music making, from Carnival to club nights, recording studios and record shops, MC battles, festivals, and more".

Artists who will be featured in the exhibition - which will also tap into the BBC archives - include Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Winifred Atwell, Emile Ford, Janet Kay, Joan Armatrading, Eddy Grant, Sade, Soul II Soul, Seal, Fabio & Grooverider, Goldie, Massive Attack and Tricky.

Plus some artists who have broken through more recently, like Shabaka Hutchings, Kano, Little Simz, Jorja Smith, Nubya Garcia and Ezra Collective.

Curator of the exhibition, Jacqueline Springer, says: “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", she goes on, "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".

V&E East is in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford, and a series of special events and live performances will be staged around the park as part of the 'Music Is Black' programme.

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