Lottery awards £247,494 to research black music shops

    Leicester-based arts body says the early independent UK record store was a music-fuelled vehicle for resistance against systemic racism

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    The Leicester-based organisation 2Funky Arts, which promotes “the iconic value of arts & heritage of Black origin”, has received a £247,494 grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to gather a history of record shops that specialised in “Black Music” from 1950 onwards.

    The organisers say the project – titled “The Record Store & Black Music, A UK History” – will produce a film, publication, podcast series and educational resource and culminate in a celebration as part of Black History Month 2024.

    To build its dossier, 2Funky Arts and its associates will interview artists, DJs, store owners, customers and music fans, and is calling for those with relevant memories to get in touch and share their experiences. It’s also looking for pertinent documentation, such as photographs, footage newspaper articles. There will be opportunities to be interviewed on screen, on audio and virtually, travel expenses will be paid, refreshments made available and all interviewees will be fully credited.

    2Funky Arts describes the work as “groundbreaking” and says “For the Windrush generation and Black diaspora, the early independent UK record store was a music-fuelled vehicle for resistance against systemic racism. Such sites became fertile ground for new music, and cultural eco-systems that shaped society’s relationship with Black music.”

    Despite references to the Windrush and “the Black disapora” 2Funky Arts seems to leave some latitude in relation to the term “Black Music”, defining it not as the music of black people but as “a cultural and stylistic term, encompassing genres including soul, disco, reggae, R&B, gospel, Afrobeat and hip hop”. Jazz, a hybrid, isn’t mentioned, but perhaps pertains in some sense.

    Those interested in contributing can contact the following organisations, according to region:

    2Funky Arts (Midlands) – info@2funkyarts.co.uk
    Brighter Sound (North) – andrea@brightersound.com 
    Sound/Image Research Centre University of Greenwich, London (London and south) – sound-image@greenwich.ac.uk