Radio news

Black Fire

BBC World Service Radio 1st December 2018

There’s been an electric resurgence of Black music as protest music in America, from Beyonce and Kendrick Lamar to Lauryn Hill and Childish Gambino.

Musicians are drawing on radical roots, on the sounds and ideas of Black Power from the late 1960s and early 1970s – the radical wing of the Civil Rights movement – and artistically from the Black Arts movement, the musical wing of Black power which sought to revolutionise Afro-centric music from within.  Ignited by confrontation with the police and a revival of Black consciousness across the US (the term ‘woke’, Black Lives Matter) and following waves of political insurgency past and present join together in music and in spoken word: the fire of Beyonce and Kendrick Lamar’s duet ‘Freedom’ and  lauryn Hill’s coruscating ‘Black Rage’, to Childish Gambino’s ‘This Is America’ which took the world by storm in 2018.

Talking to musicians and artists across generations, jazz writer Kevin Legendre draws these threads together, meeting hip hop pioneers The Last Poets, jazz singer Dee Dee Bridgewater, Questlove, vocalist Carleen Anderson, Black Power poet Sonia Sanchez, the rapper Jasiri X and Gil Scott Heron’s writing partner, Brian Jackson.