Celebrating the powerful influence of Black British Music

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Black culture has had a profound impact on British music for centuries. From the earliest days of jazz to the latest grime and drill, Black British artists have pushed the boundaries of what is possible in music. Black British music is not afraid to challenge the status quo, and it is this willingness to take risks that has made it such a vital part of British culture.

Today, Google Arts and Culture and YouTube are thrilled to launch Union Black: Sounds of Nation, a new multi-platform online experience that celebrates the rich history and vibrant culture of Black British music, and the impact it has had on the UK and beyond. The project was developed in collaboration with 25 cultural organisations ranging from the Black Cultural Archives and the Horniman Museum to Power Up, Trench and Notting Hill Carnival, as well as artists, producers and content creators from the Black British music community.

The project breathes life into a rich, but often unexplored history. From the origin stories of trailblazers to the trajectory of future leaders, everyone can delve into the pioneers, movements and history that make British music what it is today. Audiences can access 2000+ images and videos, 200+ multimedia stories curated by cultural partners across the UK, and 10+ new audio and video content pieces produced by content creators and artists on YouTube.

Read on for a breakdown of the five chapters that make up Union Black: Sounds of a Nation.

  1. Game Changers: meet the pioneers and innovators

The first chapter recognises some of the pioneers and innovators who helped shape the landscape of music, both in the UK and abroad: from musical icons to the talent of today, from industry leaders to community trailblazers. We also look at the role of pioneering platforms, technology and invite people to explore influential movements of Black British Music, from UK Hip Hop and Grime to Garage and Lover’s Rock.

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