History of Black music record stores in UK to be explored in new project, interviewees wanted

People with memories of UK record stores that specialised in Black music are being asked to share their stories as part of a new heritage project.

‘The Record Store & Black Music, A UK History’ will explore the history and global influence of these cultural hubs from the 1950s onwards, through interviews with artists, DJs, store owners, customers and music fans. 

The 2Funky Arts team, who are managing the project with help from National Lottery funding, are also looking for photographs, footage, and newspaper articles that might help with research.

The project will see interviews and memories pulled together to create a documentary film, website, podcast series and educational resource, and culminate in a celebration as part of Black History Month 2024.

“We can’t wait to interview people from a wide range of backgrounds, to help us find hidden gems of culture, history, and heritage,” said 2Funky Arts director, Vijay Mistry. “Whether you remember browsing, discovering new artists, socialising in record stores, or recall hearing stories from older family members, we want to hear from you! We are very grateful to The National Lottery Heritage Fund and National Lottery players for this grant.”

Mistry ran 2Funky Records in Leicester from 1997-2012, one the UK’s leading independent record stores specialising in music of Black origin. He later established 2Funky Arts in 2007 as a social enterprise dedicated to advancing and celebrating this history. Their projects work to “stir emotion, provoke debate, nurture collaborations, and push boundaries across sub-genres.”

Interviews for the upcoming project will take place across the country, with travel expenses paid and refreshments available. All interviewees will also be fully credited.

To get involved, contact the following organisations in each region:

2Funky Arts (Midlands) – [email protected]

Brighter Sound (North) – [email protected]

Sound/Image Research Centre University of Greenwich, London (London and South) – [email protected]

Visit www.legacyproject.online for more information.

This Autumn, Trevor Nelson teamed up with Google and YouTube to unveil a new multimedia project celebrating the impact of Black British music. A new exhibition exploring the history and global influence of Black British music is also set to open at the V&A East Museum in 2025.

Earlier this year, Sonny Roberts, the late Jamaican producer who opened the UK's first Black-owned recording studio was honoured with a blue plaque in London. In 2021, London's legendary De Underground record store received a heritage plaque for contributions to 'UK hardcore, jungle and drum & bass music'.

Revisit DJ Mag’s feature on how Black-led music organisations are creating opportunities for emerging talent here.