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Liverpool to celebrate black music as On Record returns for 2021

3 years ago

Liverpool to celebrate black music as On Record returns for 2021

A brand new programme celebrating and exploring Black music on Merseyside launches this weekend (Sunday 24 October).

ON RECORD, returns for the second year with a raft of brand new in-person, online and audio commissions looking at the impact of Black music on the city region’s communities over the past 70 years.

Running from Sunday 24 October to Sunday 7 November, live music performances, documentaries, walking tours, workshops, debates and podcasts will make up the thought-provoking programme.

ON RECORD 2021 will also see the launch of the first Liverpool City Region Black Music Action Group which will act as a voice for the sector. Meeting on Monday 25 October, it will be chaired by singer-songwriter and vocal coach Jennifer John.

Highlights of the programme include:


On Sunday 24 October, Black music titans will go head-to-head in a musical culture clash as house, dancehall, garage and R&B DJs take each other on over the turntables, fighting for the title of Clash x ON RECORD champion. This free event will take place at 24 Kitchen Street.

LIMF Academy Presents…
A showcase of alternative Black music artists from Liverpool will be broadcast live on Melodic Distraction radio, on Tuesday 26 October.

Black Nights Music Trail with Curtis Watt

Hosted by Liverpool poet and author Curtis Watt, enjoy a walk around Liverpool 8 to explore and discover why most locals from the African diaspora chose to party closer to home on their weekends back in the day, and spotlight some of the stories and cultural influence of some of the key venues and spaces in the area. The ticketed, free tours will take place on Saturday 30 and Sunday 31 October. 

Liverpool ONE Project: Take Two
Why do members of the Black music community – who were prolific a decade ago – no longer feel there are opportunities in the region? Is this an accurate reflection and is it something currently felt in the industry? A documentary, live event taking place at District on Thursday 4 November and an EP release on Friday 5 November will look to tell this story and seek out the answers to these important questions.

Grime > Punk

A one-day event at Tate Liverpool will consider what has had the most enduring impact on music and culture – grime or punk? Discussions, live music, art, photography and fashion workshops will all take place on Saturday 6 November and tickets are free.


From Tuesday 26 to Friday 29 October, a series of visualised podcasts dive in to different Black music topics such as the impact of a Toxteth-based performing arts initiative and looking at the 90s heyday of hip-hop. On Sunday 7 November, ON RECORD will culminate with a live podcast recording featuring music and panel discussions charting the history of Black music across Merseyside.

ON RECORD Curator and Commissioner, Yaw Owusu, said:

“The vision for the first On Record last year was to create an annual event that would empower and platform unheard or/and unheralded stories, subjects, music and people of relevance to Merseyside’s Black music past, present and future.

“I feel like we are raising the bar with the elements that make up this year’s programme – from the collaboration of some of our contemporary Black music artists as part of the Liverpool ONE project, to the inaugural Black music tour, to the multi-arts Grime>Punk event with TATE Liverpool, and University of Liverpool to the vital LCR Black Music Action Group Launch at the British Music Experience, the programme unapologetically reflects and focuses on those vital elements we want to explore, debate and celebrate”

Jennifer John, Music Industry Professional and Chair of Black Music Action Group, said:

“Currently there is positive momentum locally and nationally throughout the UK music sector that is working towards raising the visibility and profile of Black artists and industry professionals. This event comes at a crucial time as we introduce our Black music manifesto and explain the role of the Black Music Action Group in progressing positive change within the Liverpool City Region’s music sector.”

Kevin McManus, Head of UNESCO City of Music in Liverpool, said:

“Black music has played a vital, but sadly often overlooked, part in Liverpool’s glorious musical heritage. Now in its second year, On Record is doing a great job not just in drawing attention to the history of black music in the city but also highlighting the huge contribution black artists and organisations continue to make to the city’s vibrant music scene today.”

To find full details of all the events and ticket links, please visit

Follow @onrecordmerseyside (instagram), @OnRecordMersey (Facebook) and @onrecordfest (Twitter) to find out more about the ON RECORD events.

ON RECORD is funded by Liverpool City Council’s Culture Liverpool team. It forms part of Liverpool’s UNESCO City of Music status and its commitment to enhancing and celebrating all elements of the city’s music industry. ON RECORD is supported by Google’s Art & Culture initiative Black and British.


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