So apparently its Black History Month. I say apparently because to many Black History is world history. In the same vein Black British History is part of the fabric of British History. For example in 16th century Tudor times, there are countless records of “Blacke”, “Blackamoores”, “Neygers”, “Aethiopians” and “Negros”, all of which were ways of describing black people.
We all know King Henry VII and Henry VIII employed the African trumpeter, John Blanke. Paul Gladstone Reid provides an insight into other African musicians that contributed heavily to Europe’s musical history and culture.
Why the focus on African musicians, especially Samuel Coleridge-Taylor I hear you say. Whether its rap, grime, conscious or roadside, music is the real BBC news, and gives the world a real insight into aspects of British culture which are often miss portrayed in mainstream society. Music is also a voice for social change and empowerment. As highlighted by Last Resort, Jody McIntyre, Logic, Big Ben, Jaja Soze, big CAKES, Genesis Elijah, MC D, Cerose, Big Frizzle, Wordplay, Haze, USG, Rodney P and Akala on this track:
Yet this is nothing new, just look at the life of Black British music composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor born 1875, we salute you on your one hundred year remembrance.
What he accomplished in 37 years of life, most will not touch in a century. He was admired and respected all over the globe. Edward Elgar, Britain’s leading composer, referred to Samuel “far and away the cleverest fellow amongst the young men” in the country. His status was cemented as a musical genius when he performed Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast (1899), which was Britain’s most popular English choral-orchestral work for almost a decade. His catalogue of compositions also included Ethiopia Saluting the Colours, Four African Dances, Twenty-Four Negro Melodies and Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child.
Samuel was more than a musician; he was teacher, conductor, festival adjudicator and a social activist. In Croydon, South London he fought against racism on a daily basis. His contribution to fighting for social justice arguably holds more weight than that of Bob Marley or Martin Luther King. He was a founder and influential supporter of the Pan-African Conference and he discussed and raised political issues with William Du Bois, Booker T. Washington and Theodore Roosevelt. Alongside Duse Mohammed, he founded The African and Orient Review and had strong ties with John Archer, first black Mayor of Battersea. Thus he was building international ties across the globe in fighting for social justice.
Samuel died on 1 September 1912 and he was defiantly a voice for the people.
Solo Piano by Julian Joseph performing “Deep River” from Samuel Coleridge Taylor’s 24 Negro Melodies:
For further events during Black History Month check out:
Website: Black History Walks