Tate Modern’s ‘Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power‘ was 2017’s landmark exhibition exploring what it meant to be a Black artist during the Civil Rights movement and at the birth of Black Power. Island Records was invited by the Tate to provide a contemporary music response. Music of Black Power is a Spotify playlist created by Island Records President, Darcus Beese OBE, whose story growing up of the struggle gives the playlist it’s unique insight.
In collaboration with Tate Modern, Island Records has responded to the exhibition with a playlist curated by the label’s President, Darcus Beese. “I was lucky to grow up in a home where the politics of the black struggle was discussed morning noon and night and as a result I am very politically aware,” says Darcus. “At Island Records we have always sought out artists who share that commitment to truth in art, to an understanding of the struggle, not just in the political sense, but in our everyday lives. I believe music and politics can combine to become a powerful force for change and for good. Like my dad always said ‘I’m not a member of Renegades, I am a Renegade’.”
The show opens in 1963 at the height of the Civil Rights movement and its dreams of integration. In its wake emerged more militant calls for Black Power: a rallying cry for African American pride, autonomy and solidarity, drawing inspiration from newly independent African nations.
The artwork for the playlist was inspired by the classic Island ‘White & Red’ vinyl record labels of the early sixties. Many originated in Jamaica and were re-pressed and widely promoted by Island Records in the UK. This ‘White & Red’ label represents much of the first commercially available music of black origin in the British Isles.
Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power further travels to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art Arkansas, 3 February -23 April 2018 and Brooklyn Museum 7 September 2018 – 3 February 2019.