Crowds danced around Hackney Museum last Thursday at the launch of an exhibition celebrating African and Caribbean music.
“Roots, Rhythms and Records” opened with steel drums banging and retro records blasting as locals gathered to enjoy the celebration.
A third of Hackney residents are of Afro-Caribbean origin, and the museum called on locals to share stories and donate artefacts to build the exhibition, which also displays records and videos.
As part of the exhibition, which runs until March, the museum will offer workshops in performance poetry to local schoolchildren, with the aim of giving Hackney youngsters the confidence to raise their voices. It is hoped that the workshops will attract around 2,500 schoolchildren.
For lead researcher Etienne Joseph, representing the local impacts of African and Caribbean music in Hackney was key, with part of the exhibition focusing on the work of The Ragga Twins, who played a major role in the rave and dance scene in Hackney. Joseph also highlighted that this kind of music has at times been the subject of “misrepresentation”.
Another aim was to provide a more local focus on black history, as some residents have complained that Black History Month can feel far removed from Hackney Central.
A visitor to the launch party described the exhibition as “what we as black people needed. Here we’re celebrating music from all genres and people from all walks of life.”
Rebecca Odell, the museum’s manager, said: “We’ve wanted to do an exhibition about music for ages. There’s been so much to come out of Hackney and so many people’s stories to celebrate.”
Additional reporting by Sonny Cohen