YouTube and Google have announced the launch of UNION BLACK: Sounds Of A Nation. A new multi-platform online exhibition that celebrates the history and impact that Black British music has had on the UK and beyond. Led by acclaimed British broadcaster, music champion and Union Black ambassador Trevor Nelson (MBE), Chris Kelly went to the launch event at the Royal Opera House to get the low down…
Union Black takes users on an incredible dot-connecting historical journey through Black British music. Retold by its changemakers and the wider creative community through a curated collection of audio, videos, documentaries, photographs, podcasts, stories and special features.
Nelson says the collection is “an ode to what has made British music what it is today.”
The interactive hub celebrates the powerful contributions of Black British music artists, creative communities, and the impactful movements that forever changed the fabric of British music and culture. The chaptered content series is broken down across
5-digestible themes, enabling audiences to jump through time and genre space. Check out the site here, but be forewarned that it’s a wonderland of a rabbit hole to get lost in.
The collaborative project was developed with 25 UK-based music and cultural partners, including Black Cultural Archives, Notting Hill Carnival, Arts Council England, The Black Music Coalition, Somerset House, TRENCH, Bounce Cinema, Punch Records and many more. As well as Black British artists, producers and content creators, including Danny D and Adrian Sykes, Trillary Banks, Richie Brave, Jamz Supernova, Moelogo, and Cashh.
Hub visitors can access 200-plus multimedia stories curated by the official cultural partners. Including 10-plus audio and video content pieces hosted by music industry cornerstone MOBO Awards. Produced by musicians, artists, podcast hosts and YouTube creators.
Lead content partner TRENCH salutes the sound architects, musical pioneers, scene innovators and beating-heart sound institutions from ‘the culture’. That presents a panoramic landscape view across multiple genre movements, lover’s rock, jungle, garage, grime and UK rap. TRENCH also collaborated with Union Black on a limited edition print edition of Chapter One (thanks for the UD shout out), given away exclusively at the YouTube Legacy dinner.
There’s a raft of special features, including “In celebration of Stormzy“ by South East London writer Jude Yawson, documenting the rapper’s work, history and influence, and a freshly produced film about #MERKY. There’s also an emotionally charged personal tribute to the late great Jamal Edwards MBE (RIP) from TRENCH executive editor Laura ‘Hyperfrank’ Brosnan. Additionally, there are compelling video discussions such as Black Women In Music; A panel discussion led by influencer and host Wunmi Bello. Other exclusive content unpacks social activism and influences of cities like Liverpool and Birmingham and Black culture in the queer community. The melting pot of cultural movements is explored and examined across film, art, fashion, and youth culture colloquial language slang. Another significant highlight comes from honouring the 75th anniversary of the Windrush Generation and how migration has transformed the music scene and broadened the experience of what it means to be British.
Union Black is a reminder of the doors that Black British music culture has kicked down, the conversations it’s sparked, and its drive for equality, justice and socio-political change. Sounds Of A Nation is an archive for future generations and an affirmation that music and culture have the power to unite…
Chris Kelly is a culture consultant, freelance music journalist, feature writer and cultural commentator focusing on emerging and established artists and subculture culture. Chris has multifaceted expertise as a media and creative specialist working with your favourite brands and helping them to embed themselves within the culture through strategic and entertaining content for brands, businesses and organisations.