NEWS: Major New Project to Document the Cultural Impact of UK Record Stores & Black Music

NEWS: Major New Project to Document the Cultural Impact of UK Record Stores & Black Music

A major new project that explores the cultural impact of UK independent record stores, specialising in Black music from 1950 onwards, has been launched. 2Funky Arts has been awarded a grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, made possible thanks to National Lottery players, to explore this fascinating subject. ‘The Record Store & Black Music, A UK History’ will link in with Black History Month 2024.

The project is being rolled out in the Midlands by 2Funky Arts, an organisation that celebrates Black music, develops new artists, and runs festivals & events that showcase talent in the community. This ground-breaking, national initiative will work in partnership with the Sound/Image Research Centre  (University of Greenwich, London) and Brighter Sound (Manchester).

For the Windrush generation and Black diaspora, the early independent UK record store was a music-fuelled vehicle for resistance against systemic racism. Such sites became fertile ground for new music and cultural ecosystems that shaped society’s relationship with Black music.

The Record Store Project is seeking personal stories that illuminate Black, African & Caribbean experiences. Oral histories, film and audio and photographic memories will be compiled to create an educational resource, a publication, website and podcast series. Among the themes to be explored will be: New Pioneers of Street Sounds (the 1950s-70s); Influence on the UK Charts (1970s-80s); and Club Culture & Birth of Sub Genres (1990s onwards).

2Funky Arts Director Vijay Mistry said: “2Funky Arts has been planning The Record Store for around 4 years, in conjunction with DJ Simon ‘Schooly’ Phillips, who will work on our heritage documentary.  We are thrilled to have received funding for such a culturally significant project. Thanks to National Lottery players, we will be able to research this fascinating history and will be working with volunteers and practitioners from across the country, to present oral histories in inspiring formats.”

In 2013 2Funky Arts created ‘Spectrum ‘- a documentary exploring the history of Black music in Leicester. This was highly successful and revealed a large untapped history, laying the foundation for this project. 2Funky Arts itself grew from 2Funky Records (1997-2012) – an independent music store in Leicester, with an international reputation, that specialised in Black music.

Robyn Llewellyn, Director, England, Midlands & East at The National Lottery Heritage Fund said: “We’re delighted to be supporting 2Funky Arts on this project, ensuring that this chapter of the UK’s Black music heritage is given the recognition it deserves. Thanks to National Lottery players, we’re able to support important work like this so that heritage represents and reflects our local communities.”

2Funky Arts is keen to hear stories from record store customers and owners, artists, and anyone with relevant film, audio or photographic memories to share.  They are also looking for potential volunteers to help research this heritage in each region (London & The South, The North and Midlands). For more information, please visit or contact 2Funky Arts on [email protected]

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