Portraits celebrate Liverpools unprecedented black music scene

Portraits celebrate Liverpools unprecedented black music scene

An exhibition celebrating the richness of Liverpool’s black music scene and its desire to never be “one-dimensional” has been launched.

Champion One, Champion All! brings together 33 portraits of performers, promoters, producers and others by photographer Anthony Wilde.

He said the aim was to “tell people of what they may not know exists”.

DJ 2Kind, who is in the show, said it was “a great way” of showcasing people “that don’t otherwise get mentioned”.

Wilde, who produced the portraits in partnership with National Museums Liverpool, said black music made up “what’s most rich about Liverpool and as a community, we should know about the scenes making music”.

“This exhibition is to tell people of what they may not know exists in the city,” he said.

“Ethnicity isn’t one single palette [and] the music coming from Liverpool has never been one-dimensional.

“We are now seeing a collective that is unprecedented [which has] new attitudes to creating music and is revealing genres we’ve not been encouraged to listen to before.”

The exhibition includes people from every corner of the scene, from composer and singer Jennifer John and writer and performer Levi Tafari to drill artists Pelumi and KOJ and DJs SpyKatcha, Mark Johnstone, Hannah Lynch and DJ 2Kind.

Lynch said being included had given her “so much pride in myself, as well as a boost in confidence”.

“Living in very uncertain times, it’s easy to lose motivation on the creative side; being a part of the exhibition has really got me back in focus mode, doing what I love,” she said.

Fellow DJ Johnstone said the show was important because it “shows how diverse the scene is and continues to be”, while DJ 2Kind said it was “a great way of putting the spotlight on the many creatives who contribute so much… in the city that don’t otherwise get mentioned”.

Mimi, one half of the duo behind the Go Off, Sis Hub creative space, added that it was “incredibly necessary”.

“There are so many people doing amazing things,” she said.

“The 33 in this campaign only touch the surface, so for everyone to get the recognition they deserve, it’s a massive step in the right direction.”

Organiser Yay Owusu, who has curated Liverpool International Music Festival and headed up a music consultancy agency and record label, said he wanted the show, which is part of the On Record, Untold & Retold black music festival, to “amplify” the push to recognise those involved within the scene and help it reach new audiences.

He said the idea to “spotlight some of the lynchpins” came to him because he knew that “too frequently, these people were often not included when talking about and celebrating music and cultural leaders in the region”.

“The importance of including this in the festival programme – and making sure we extended the reach and created a permanent archive of it – cannot be overstated.”

The portraits are on display at the Museum of Liverpool.

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