It is Black History month in the UK, an official period where the focus shifts to acknowledge, remember and celebrate the contribution from black people to the world as it stands today.
We have curated a special ‘Black Music History Month – Throwback Thursday’ edition celebrating the contribution of musicians who have influenced British culture and knocked down doors for today’s artist to express their art:
Hailing from Birmingham, the talented R&B group and sister trio, Cleo, Yonah, and Zainam Higgins, formed Cleopatra. If social media were around in the 90’s #CareFreeBlackGirl would have been synonymous with this particular girl group. Their first single, ‘Cleopatra theme’ brought them huge success; it reached #3 on the UK charts, #26 on the US Billboard Hot 100 which brought about Brits and Mobo awards nominations. They were later signed by Madonna.
Soul II Soul
Birth from the sound system culture, the 2x Grammy Award winners, and British Neo-Soul group reached their heights in the late 80’s with international success with songs, ‘Back to Life’ and ‘Keep on Movin’. Their first album ‘Club Classics Vol. One’ sold over 4 million copies.
The group was made up of Jazzie B, Caron Wheeler, Doreen Waddell, Rose Windross, Daddae, Aitch B, and Jazzie Q.
One of Hackney’s finest – Gabrielle rose to ultimate powers during the late 90’s and throughout the noughties. She is a double Brit Awards winner and a multi-platinum singer and songwriter. Her single ‘Dreams’ broke records and stayed at #1 in the UK charts for three consecutive weeks.
Gabrielle was the first solo female act to have a debut single reach #2; the highest ever at that time.
The London-based group sold over 10 million copies worldwide. Eternal had 15 top UK 20 hits throughout the 90’s.
Their debut album went 4x platinum, which made it one of the biggest-selling album of the year, 1994.
Etnernal’s video for the song ‘Just a Step Heaven’ was pretty much unapologetic black…
British-Nigerian, Helen Folasade Adu talent transcends time. She was the lead singer of the band, Sade. Her debut album sold over 6 million copies which made her the best-selling female vocalist ever to hail from the UK. To date, Sade’s music has amassed over 50 million sales worldwide. Sade is widely recognised as one of the greatest and most successful British vocalists ever; and through her music, she opened the doors for many Black women in the UK.
The British-Jamaican-Zimbabwean artist made waves throughout the UK throughout the 00’s. Jamelia cemented her name in Black British history with 4 Mobo Awards and 9 Brit Awards nomination. We fell in love her, as soon as she graced our screens and her song with Beanie man, ‘Money’ reached #5 in the UK charts.
Ms. Dynamite aka Lady Dynamite could sing and mc; she was our equivalent to Lauryn Hill. Her abilities to control the mic stood her apart from her male counterparts. Her debut album, ‘A Little Deeper’ made her household name and featured her socially aware debut single, “It takes more” which reached number #7 on the UK charts. She is the winner of two Brit Awards, the Mercury Prize, and three Mobo Awards. Her talents and award’s successes has cemented her name in Black British History as one of the best ever to do it.
So Solid Crew
The UK garage and rap group was hugely successful in the early 2000’s. They are widely considered as the group who opened the door for the UK underground/urban scene in the mainstream. Their smash hit ’21 seconds’ was and still is a certified club banger and reached #1 in the UK in 2001. Their most notable members Romeo, Lisa Maffia, Asher D, Harvey, Mega Man have all went to have successful careers in the entertainment industry and are a staple in UK Black Music History.
Writer – @Kofi Dwaah