To the back drop of the iconic London skyline, on the grounds of Alexandra Palace, Block Party Cinema hosted a special event which rounded off the Great British summer we had this year.
The weather held out and I joined the crowd of people eating food and ‘cutting shapes’ (as they say,) with my dance moves during the silent ‘diva disco’. It was my first time at a silent disco; a great concept because everyone around me had headphones, so I could sing out of tune freely! @pxssypalace DJ KKINBOO was on the decks and didn’t disappoint.
It’s award season again, and you know what that means…. Yes! It’s time for arguably the biggest award ceremony in the British music calendar – The Brit Awards.
Last year’s drama gave birth to the #BritsSoWhite hashtag. Following the barrage of complaints about last year’s awards ignoring Black British artists, Brits Chairman Ged Doherty, vowed to shake things up. The plan was to add more music influencers from black and ethnic minority backgrounds to the 1,100 strong voting panel.
In his open letter, Ged Doherty, denied that there was any malicious bias but noted there is an institutional problem, resulting in the makeup of nominees not reflecting the current British music scene.
“We are therefore surveying its [voting panel] makeup, which, I suspect, is largely white and with a bias towards older men. This does not mean that there is an underlying prejudice at play, but the unintended consequence is that emerging genres of music may not be properly recognised.”
Diversity is a word that’s been thrown around a lot in recent years. Social media has made things so much more transparent. People, ideas, music, everything is a lot more accessible. When we all saw that impact various black British artists had on popular culture, but didn’t see that reflected in the 2016 awards, that was a problem!
“The awards should, first and foremost, reward the very best and most popular British music, but the playing field for that judgment must also be even. Everyone, regardless of background, should have an equal opportunity to impress.
There is a second issue. Currently, to be nominated you must have achieved Top 40 success – but we must now go further. There are performers, including grime artists, who may not have achieved major chart success but who have attracted large followings, including through social media. This level of engagement is at present not part of Brits eligibility and this, perhaps more than any other factor, has caused the nominations to be seen as unrepresentative by some.”
Along with sorting the ethnic imbalance, there were promises to level the gender gap, age and regional representation of the voting panel.
I’m not a classical music expert but was blown away by the performance of 17 year-old Sheku Kanneh-Mason, which saw him being crowned the BBC Young Musician of the 2016.
The competition took place in May, but I’d not heard about Sheku until I was a guest contributor on Dual Magazine as part of the Africa Utopia festival. So as you can guess, I did a little digging….
The BBC young musician competition is said to be one of the most high-profile competitions for amateur musicians. Sheku, from Nottingham UK was one of three finalists who performed live with BBC Symphony Orchestra, and also plays with the Chineke! Orchestra – Britain’s all black and minority ethnic orchestra.
Sheku won after playing Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 1.
The ecstatic teenager told the BBC, “I’m so grateful for all the support from my family, the Junior Royal Academy of Music, my teacher Ben Davies and Chineke! that have helped me on this extraordinary journey.”