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Black Routes

  • Date: 24 August 2009
  • Artform: Music
  • Area: National
Freddie McGregor UK tour Freddie McGregor UK tour, Ged Doyle, Plastic-C, Liverpool

In April 2009, Black Routes, a new, Arts Council-funded, UK touring network was launched.

The network, which will tour the best of African and Caribbean music, is a partnership between five organisations – Africa Oyé (Liverpool), Centre for Music & Arts Technology (Birmingham), Joyful Noise (London), Punch (Birmingham) and Serious (London).

The organisations have been selected to bring a diversity of skills, output, scale, location and experience.

Each organisation will tour two projects per year to a range of venues throughout the country and deliver an associated education or participation programme.

Black Routes has a dynamic remit to work in partnership to develop the profile of the sector, share good practice, create and facilitate opportunities for promoter, producer and artist development and build audiences for African and Caribbean music.

Ammo Talwar, Chair of Black Routes says: 'Black music from the Diaspora has always had a huge impact on the UK’s national touring circuit - from the heydays of Steel Pulse working alongside Rock Against Racism to the new hybrid genres of UK grime and Angolan kudoro.

'Its impact on the human soul reaches far beyond import and export. We want to innovate, challenge and inspire venues, programmers and festivals to produce, promote and programme the richness that black music brings to all.'

Susanna Eastburn, Director, Music Strategy, Arts Council England says: 'Investment in African and Caribbean music has formed an important part of the Arts Council's music strategy for several decades and we are pleased to be taking this support into a new era with the Black Routes national touring network.

'The five funded organisations will offer venues, promoters and audiences across the country a unique range of touring projects featuring world class artists and will also develop educational and participatory activities for their local communities.

'We are looking forward to working with the group as it develops and continuing to support the growth and development of African and Caribbean music and audiences in England.'

The first tour took place in June 2009 featuring Grammy-nominated reggae star Freddie McGregor (pictured), followed by South African Simphiwe Dana with her 12 piece ensemble.

In October 2009 there are tours with Mad Professor and The Ariwa Posse and The African Jazz All-Stars. The year culminates with Soul Noël, a celebration of Christmas through African and Caribbean song, featuring South Africa’s Sibongile Khumalo.

In February 2010, a collaboration between Zambia’s Maureen Lilanda, Shoublak from Martinique and the UK’s Black Voices will premiere at The Drum in Birmingham, then tour.