This documentary is directed by Sandie West based on the book
Black Music White Britain
Available from New Haven Publishing
It has often been quoted that if you can remember the 1960’s then you weren’t there. Sure enough the 60’s was a time packed full of exciting cultural, political and musical change. This in turn impacted on the youth of the day, a youth that was really still finding its steps having found itself breaking away from its post war teenager cocoon into something which at that time was unrecognisable. But then some might say so were the 50’s. Gradually youth was finding a voice…and it was backing it up with a sense of style and new sounds. Jazz music was always going to be cool. But for many teenagers jazz was also ‘dug’ by their older brother and parents. The 1950’s teenager was ready to embrace something new. That was when the first Modernists appeared on the streets of Soho and it wouldn’t be long before the black artists, many who had been previously, to the larger part, ignored, would be embraced and welcomed in Britain and every note and drum beat lapped up.
Nolan Porter: ‘Considering I saw my first R&B television review produced in Britain, in approximately 1958, I realised that Britain’s love affair with black music and black musicians was there way before I came on the scene. England has kept alive so much of the old R&B and their love for the artists has given hope and gratitude to many of the performers who are still around today, myself included. It’s hard for me to measure the impact that it has had on the UK. But I can measure the profound effect it has had on my life. I feel that my music found a home in the UK and we have become musical friends forever. When I perform in the UK I feel I’ve come to my musical home. My heart beats faster there!’
About the authors (2018)
BLACK MUSIC WHITE BRITAIN by IAN ” SNOWY ” SNOWBALL and PETE MCKENNA
Between them, Snowy and Pete McKenna have emerged as the leading authros in the collective of UL modernist writers. Snowys achievements include his acclaimed books on Oasis, Ocean Clour Scene and the Jam – the only ever book in the bands history to be personally endorsed by Paul Weller himself. Petes achievements include Nightshift – the first ever true account of what it was like to be a part of the 70’s northern soul scene and Who The Hells Frank Wilson – the first novel to be set arounf the northern soul scene. Working together Snowy and Pete produced The Team That Meet in Caffs – a celebration of one of the greatest into albums of all times – Searching For The Young Soul Rebels by Dexys Midnight Runners and Made In Britain which is a history of the many diverse long standing UK street cultures since the 1950’s.
What Snowy and Pete don’t know about the scene isn’t worth knowing and Black Music White Britain represents their personal homage to the UK’s black music scene imoprted from America beginning in 1948 when the MV Windrush arrived in London with the first boat load of Caribbeans looking forward to a new life in Britain but acceptance into a bigoted UK society wasn’t easy. Tensions flared in the 1950’s when the Kensington race riots occurred fuelled by the son of fascist leader Oswald Mosley. Thankfully things ended as quickly as they began and paved the way for the now multi million event that is the Notting Hill Carnival as well as integration into British society who found themselves falling in love with the colourful style of their new neighbours especially so in the dancehalls where many heard and danced to ska and reggae for the first time.
Without Americas rich musical heritage the UK music scene would not have become the dominant music force it is today changing many people ways of living, dressing, eating, dancing and singing. From the plantations in the deep south confederate states where exhausted negro slaves found comfort in strumming the blues – to the clubs in New York and Chicago where jazz became the new black music – to the many gospel church choirs where many future stars first found their voices – to ska and reggae born in the clubs and studios of Jamaica – to the new sound of 1960’s soul courtesy of the big three labels Atlantic Stax and Tamla Motown who commercialised black soul music to a whole new level before importing it to the army of discerning UK kids searching for a new scene and identity – to the underground northern soul scene in clubs like the Golden Torch – the Twisted Wheel and the legendary Wigan Casino where working class kids danced their weekends away to the new stripped down infectious four four beat of northern soul produced in countless small US studios UK kids discovered an unswerving lifelong passion for in a scene that is bigger than ever today that started out in the swinging 60’s London clubs almost sixty years ago. To many of who were there back then and are still here today, the reality of living life without black music in white britain is simply unthinkable.