Cheryl: BBC criticised for ‘tone-deaf’ R&B show presented by former Girls Aloud singer

R&B fans are questioning why a Black British artist was not chosen for the role

Roisin O'Connor
Tuesday 31 August 2021 19:21
<p>Cheryl is presenting a new R&B show for BBC Sounds</p>

Cheryl is presenting a new R&B show for BBC Sounds

The BBC has been criticised for its decision to book Girls Aloud singer Cheryl as the presenter of a new BBC Sounds show about R&B.

The former X Factor singer hosts the series, which launched on 27 August and is billed as a “passionate love letter to the genre”.

In the first hour-long episode, she plays music from Mary J Blige, Blackstreet, TLC, Jorja Smith, Donell Jones and Alicia Keys.

The 38-year-old, known mononymously as Cheryl, speaks briefly in between certain tracks.

“I’ve had more than 20 years to think about why this music has always felt so important to me, and you can think of this series as my love letter to the greatest music genre there’s ever been,” she says after Aaliyah’s 2000 hit “Try Again” plays.

The decision to book Cheryl as the host of the show has sparked a backlash, however, with many people questioning why a Black artist was not chosen for the role instead.

“Shola Ama wasn’t available or Jamelia, Gabrielle,” one fan questioned, referring to three prominent Black British R&B singers.

More suggested SADE, Lamar, Craig David, Leona Lewis or NAO as singers who would have been better-suited.

“This is great but when is Skepta and indie-rock coming out?” another joked, as one critic branded the BBC as “tone-deaf” in its decision to cast Cheryl.

Announcing the show on 27 August, the singer tweeted: “I’ve always had an absolute love and passion for R&B and I’m so excited to share my new show with you on BBC Sounds.

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“I’ve really been transported back re-listening to all these tracks and I’m excited for you to relive those moments with me.”

A BBC spokesperson told The Independent: “We feature a wide range of voices spanning different genres across our extensive music output.

“Many of our shows are fronted by DJs who are experts in their fields, others are hosted by people with a passion for their topic. Cheryl’s You, Me and R&B shares personal stories from her youth, soundtracked by her favourite genre.”

The Independent has also contacted Cheryl’s representative for comment.

Cheryl has released four solo albums, most recently 2014’s Only Human, as well as the five studio albums that she released with Girls Aloud between 2003 and 2008.