V&A East set to showcase Black music and culture

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At a glance

  • The Victoria & Albert (V&A) East campus museum is set to open in 2025
  • Its inaugural exhibition The Music Is Black: A British Story will celebrate 125 years of Black music in Britain
  • Curated by Jacqueline Springer, the exhibition uncovers untold stories from early pioneers to today’s artists, emphasising music’s unifying power

William Wandji

BBC London

  • Published

1 November 2023, 06:08 GMT

  • Updated 1 hour ago

The first ever exhibition at the V&A East museum will celebrate Black music and culture when it opens in 2025.

The Music Is Black: A British Story is dedicated to shedding light on the influence of Black British music on the nation’s culture and its global resonance.

The display at East Bank, Stratford, will pay homage to pioneers like Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Winifred Atwell and early international musicians like Eddy Grant.

Curator Jacqueline Springer said: “Music is the soundtrack to our lives and one of the most powerful tools of unification.”


Image caption,

Kano and Ghetts, i-D Live, Cargo, March 2005

She said the exhibition also aimed to emphasise the social importance of music and its ability to be an “extension of an individual”.

Contemporary Black artists, including Kano and Jorja Smith also feature.

The show will delve into the historical, social and cultural context that gave rise to British music genres, from Drum & Bass to Grime, and beyond.

It will also include the international impact of Black British music and the creative influence of East London on this genre.

As part of the project, V&A East has also commissioned a new film that aims to be a dynamic portrayal of Black British musical styles.

V&A East’s director, Gus Casely-Hayford, said the event would be “a landmark show foregrounding multiple perspectives to tell a long-overdue story about the creation of our national sound”.

“V&A East is dedicated to opening up new creative opportunities for all,” he added.


Image caption,

Little Simz performs at The BRIT Awards 2022 at The O2 Arena on 8 February 2022 in London

The V&A East project has also launched a culture council with ambassadors dedicated to supporting and amplifying the museum’s work.

The ambassadors will be Yinka Shonibare CBE, Samuel Ross, Klaudia Fior, Elijah, Tito Mogaji & Soji Sonibare.

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