The story of Black British music is a five-hundred-year journey from the court of King Henry VIII to the ‘Ends’ of South London; from Africa to the Caribbean to the UK and back; from subterranean shebeens and church halls to royal command performances and sold-out stadiums; and from outsider influence to domestic chart domination. It is a story that grapples with the slave trade, the prejudice of unwelcoming institutions and the bias of ignorance while ultimately celebrating the creativity and perseverance of the pioneers and today’s digital age innovators.

    Published alongside the major British Library exhibition, Beyond the Bassline is a landmark volume of essays, features and interviews which traces a new timeline underpinned by the Black artists and musicians who, over centuries, have shaped Britain’s unique and globally significant musical culture. Illustrating this vibrant history which traverses musical genres from classical, gospel and jazz through to reggae, jungle and Afrobeats are more than three hundred images including contemporary and classic photographs, paintings, posters and record sleeves.

    Introduced by the exhibition’s curators, Dr. Aleema Gray and Mykaell Riley, and edited by Paul Bradshaw, music journalist and publisher of Straight No Chaser magazine, Beyond the Bassline tells its essential story through specially commissioned pieces from musicians, composers, DJs, writers and photographers, as well as important voices in politics and history.

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