Black artists 'worryingly excluded' from Government-backed festival


Adam Sherwin
Wednesday 16 May 2012 10:04
Music to watch polls by: David Cameron gets his headphones around Pink Floyd
Music to watch polls by: David Cameron gets his headphones around Pink Floyd

A campaign to celebrate the best of British music, backed by David Cameron and the Foreign Office, has been criticised for excluding the UK's most successful black artists.

The Prime Minister endorsed the first "Music Is GREAT" week, an industry-led initiative to boost sales of UK artists, when he named Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon as his favourite album and hailed British music as a "world leader".

A DVD and iTunes video download has been compiled to accompany the campaign, featuring footage of "legendary performances" by "the most iconic British live music acts through history". The 14-track DVD, produced in association with tourism body Visit Britain, was launched with a Jessie J performance on Monday and promoted on the Foreign Office website.

However the £10 album, which begins with David Bowie performing 'Ziggy Stardust' at Hammersmith Odeon in 1973 and concludes with Take That singing 'The Flood' in Manchester, has been criticised for focusing exclusively on white acts.

Blur, The Who, Queen and Adele are featured but chart-topping black British soul, reggae and rap acts are not. Despite promising to "shine the spotlight on the brilliant musical talent Great Britain has produced" the only black presence is Mel B, as a member of the Spice Girls.

Kerry McCarthy MP, shadow Foreign Affairs minister, said: "The lack of black artists in a collection designed to showcase the best of British music is worrying. Whole genres have been excluded like the British reggae scene. You could have Aswad or Steel Pulse."

A campaign spokesperson said: "The Music is GREAT Britain DVD is a compilation of some of the most iconic, talked about live performances in modern music history and was never intended to be a compendium of every genre of British music."

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