The Record Store and Black Music

A major new project that explores the cultural impact of UK independent record stores that specialised 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 Record Store & Black Music (UK History)

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 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 will document the history of independent record stores that have specialised in music of Black origin (MOBO) exploring their role as cultural hubs. We will focus on Black, African & Caribbean experiences (1960’s onwards). The first UK store (HMV) opened in Oxford Street in 1921. Less well documented are independents that specialised in MOBO. For the Windrush generation and Black diasporas, the early record store was a music-fuelled vehicle for resistance against systemic racism. Such sites became fertile ground for new music and cultural eco-systems.  

The project will engage volunteers from different regions across the UK in activities aimed at documenting and sharing this heritage. In doing so, 2Funky Arts will recruit two regional coordinating organisations, in addition to its own work in recording this heritage across Midlands & East. The other two regions will be The North (Brighter Sound. Manchester; and London & The South (Sound|Image Research Center, UoG. ) 

About 2Funky Arts 

2Funky Arts is unrivalled regionally in championing excellence in creativity and cultural production of Black origin. Based in Leicester, we are led by a dynamic, predominantly ethnic minority board & staff team – managing collaborative programmes of artist & community engagement. Since 2007, 2Funky Arts has pioneered bringing new artists to prominence and advocated for the iconic value of arts & heritage of Black origin. Please visit for further information. 

About The National Lottery Heritage Fund 

‘The Record Store & Black Music – a UK History’ is made possible with The National Lottery Heritage Fund.  

Using money raised by the National Lottery, the National Lottery Heritage Fund inspires, leads and resources the UK’s heritage to create positive and lasting change for people and communities, now and for the future. 

Since the National Lottery began in 1994, National Lottery players have raised over £43 billion for projects and more than 635,000 grants have been awarded across the UK. 

Each week, thanks to National Lottery players, £30 million is raised for good causes across the UK.  

Listen to Dr. Amit Patel Talk about the project on BBC Radio London with:

Dotun Adebayo – 10/09/23 1hr’ 44mins

Robert Elms – 29/09/23 00’36mins

The Record Store and Black Music: Volunteers needed:

We are looking for volunteers from across London & The South, who are passionate about Black music and/or Black history, to help us with an exciting heritage project. This will capture the life & times of UK independent record stores that specialised in Black music, from 1950 onwards. Volunteers will steer research and interviews, to capture this history and share it in a ground-breaking documentary film, website and book.

This volunteering opportunity is free and includes free Oral History training which is British Library/Oral History Society certified.

To take part, you will need to:

  • be aged 18+.
  • have an interest in Black music and/or Black History.
  • be willing to learn new media skills and/or put existing ones into practice.
  • attend 2 x 3 hour sessions of oral history training in October 2023 at the University of Greenwich, if you join the project by then (dates to be confirmed).
  • be able to commit to at least 8 x 3 hour sessions in total, between October 2023 and July 2024.

No prior knowledge or experience is necessary, and the time commitment is flexible on a sessional basis. Some sessions will be scheduled on evenings and/ or weekends, to enable a range of people to take part. We would also consider virtual volunteering, if you are unable to attend in person (e.g. research).

If you are interested:

Deadline 30th October 2023

The Record Store and Black Music: Interviewees Wanted

Are you a fan of Black music, living in London
or The South? Do you have memories of
browsing, discovering new artists, or
socialising in record stores, back in the day?

Sound/Image Research Centre (University of
Greenwich, London) would like to hear from you!
Our team is researching memories of UK record stores
that specialised in Black music from 1950’s onwards.
We want to interview artists, DJs, store owners,
customers and music fans, both on and off screen.
Be part of a documentary, book and more!
Travel costs paid.

For More Info please email or sign up below:

We can’t wait to hear from you!