Celebrating Black History Month at Brighton Dome

14 Oct 2019

October is Black History Month in the UK, giving us an opportunity to pay tribute to just some of the amazing performers who have taken to the Brighton Dome stage in the past as well as to look forward to those coming soon!

Highlights from Brighton Dome’s history:

  •  Early jazz pioneers, the Southern Syncopated Orchestra, played at Brighton Dome in 1921. They transformed the London club scene and popularised black music during their tour around the UK and Ireland.
  • Singer, actor and activist, Paul Robeson performed as part of the opening of the transformed Brighton Dome Concert Hall on 11 January 1936.
  • Sister Rosetta Tharpe was a true pioneer of mid-20th-century music and one of the founders of rock'n'roll. She influenced early musicians, including Little Richard, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis. Tharpe played the Brighton Dome stage in 1964.

Rock Against Racism was a political and cultural movement that emerged in reaction to a rise of racist attacks in the UK and increasing support for the neo-Nazi National Front. Between 1976 and 1982 Rock Against Racism activists organised national tours, as well as local gigs and clubs throughout the country. Coming up on Sat 19 Oct, Rock against Racism returns featuring Roy Ayers & The Ubiquity Band, Misty in Roots and The Skatalites.

The 2019 Rock Against Racism line-up play at Brighton Dome, adding to our history of hosting incredible artists; Nina Simone, Mavis Staples, Stevie Wonder, The Supremes, Lee Perry, Miles Davis, Rokia Traore, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Omara Portuondo, Orchestra Baobab, Buena Vista Social Club, Baaba Maal, Akram Khan, Reginald D Hunter, Lenny Henry, Beverley Knight, Dionne Warwick, Rose Royce, Odyssey, The Real Thing, Joan Armatrading and Carlos Acosta – to name just a few!

The sons of Afrobeat pioneer and activist Fela Kuti, Femi Kuti and Seun Kuti, have also both played at Brighton Dome. Radio Reverb presenter John Warr remembers seeing the energetic Seun Kuti live at the Corn Exchange in 2004.

A new dance show, fresh from Edinburgh Festival, Kalakuta Republik, takes inspiration from the life and music of Fela Kuti. Created by Burkina-Faso born Serge Aimé Coulibaly with his French company Faso Dance Theatre the show depicts energetic scenes set to a remix of Kuti’s music. Described as a ‘a fire lit for freedom… in the footsteps of Fela’, this celebration of Kuti’s legacy comes to Brighton Dome on Mon 4 & Tues 5 Nov 2019.

This month we also welcome a fearless re imagining of iconic ballet Giselle on 29 & 30 Oct by South African choreographer Dada Masilo. Following a recent acclaimed run at Sadler’s Wells, this performance is not like you’ve seen Giselle before. Fusing traditional ballet, contemporary and traditional Tswana dance, the performers are powered by a musical score by South African composer Philip Miller that combines classical strings with African percussion and voice.

On Sat 9 Nov, come along to Brighton Dome’s Black History Family Day, a free, annual celebration of African and Caribbean culture and heritage. The whole family can join in on the day with art activities, dance, music, storytelling and food from Kitgum Kitchen and Island Takeaway. Hear from West African Griots, get onto the groove with Gambian drummer Bucarr Ndow and have your head wrapped in beautiful African fabrics.

Last year’s Brighton Festival Guest Director Rokia Traoré aimed to support African artists and we are delighted to continue her legacy across our programme, in October and going forward. Join us at one of our events this autumn for exciting productions and fresh perspectives.