ISM | Black history in music Jump to main content

Black history in music

A celebration of Black composers and performers

This hub brings together resources exploring the history of Black performers and composers in the UK, as well as current issues around diversity and inclusion.


Black History Month Magazine: Articles and opinion pieces from across the Black diaspora, as well as listings for events.

Black Cultural Archives: The UK's national heritage centre for preserving the stories of African and Caribbean peoples in the UK.

Chineke! Foundation: A music organisation with two orchestras, which promotes African, Asian, and ethnically diverse classical musicians in the UK and Europe.

#DecoloniseMusicEd: A blog and newsletter from musician, author and music education consultant Nate Holder, an advocate for decolonising music education.

Music by Black Composers: A US-based database of Black composers from around the world (both living and deceased).

Pegasus Opera Company: A diverse opera company which champions artists of African and Asian heritage in the UK.

Black Sailors and Sea Shanties and Black Singers and Folk Ballads: Resource packs from the English Folk Dance & Song Society (EFDSS).

Black History Month resource pack from I Can Compose: Resource pack for secondary music teachers, including a BHM listening calendar.

Aberdeen Jazz Festival Celebrates Black History Month Aberdeen Jazz Festival have created four playlist celebrating Black jazz artists.


Diversify your music lessons: Next steps

Following on from our webinar with practitioner Mahaliah Edwards, this blog summarises her experiences and her six steps to help introduce diversity into your music lessons, as well as providing some useful additional resources.

What to do with 'Diversity Fatigue'

Amanda Parker, Director of Inc Arts, discusses the increasing usage of this phrase, which describes a weariness of hearing the narratives of others. In this exclusive opinion piece, Amanda offers fresh perspectives on how to re-imagine your relationship with diversity.

OverRule Britannia

Opera singer and Artistic Director of Pegasus Opera Company, Alison Buchanon, gives her perspective on the annual inclusion of Rule, Britannia! in the Last Night of the Proms, as well as Prom-style events around the UK.

A Black History Month is eleven too few

British composer Philip Herbert reflects on the nature of Black History Month as a contemporary musician, and how we can better celebrate Black History in the national curriculum, wider education, and through representation in the UK music industry.

Composer focus: Errollyn Wallen

Belize-born British composer Errollyn Wallen describes her experiences growing up in Tottenham, London, and her hopes for the music industry.

Performer focus: Chi-chi Nwanoku

British double-bassist and founder of Chineke! gives her thoughts on the situation of Black performers in the UK and what the industry can do better.

ISM celebration of Black musicians in the UK (1910-1970)

In our latest playlist, we look at the music that had a huge influence on British jazz and popular music, and celebrate the Black musicians and composers who made, toured and emigrated to the UK during the time.

You can find the complete playlist below, as well as further information about each musician.

Find out more about the musicians

ISM celebration of Black classical composers

A selection of works by just a few of the incredible Black classical composers from history, as well as some of those creating new music today.

You can find the complete playlist below, as well as further information about each composer.

Find out more about the composers