Here at Sound and Music, and particularly on the British Music Collection, we feel that it's essential to capture moments in our collective history; to create a space to reflect, to celebrate individual voices, and to address the under-representation of Black composers, creators, and their works.
Every year we review and refresh our opportunities, and last October, in celebration of Black History Month, we put out a call for a commission to support Black creators from the African and Caribbean diaspora based in the UK to create a new piece of sonic work. We were particularly interested in receiving proposals from those who identify as coming from low socio-economic or working-class backgrounds—who have faced additional barriers due to their socio-economic status.
Through this opportunity, we hope that the British Music Collection can continue to be a safe space where conversations about opportunity, diversity and cultural relevance in new music remain at the forefront of these commissions and the works produced by the composers we support.
We're thoroughly excited to announce that the winners of the Black Composers Open Call for 2022 are FAUZIA, Thomas Harris and Joy Nkoyo.
Once completed, the composers' new works will be hosted uniquely hosted on the British Music Collection online platform and shared via our social channels and newsletters over the coming months. Get to know more about the winners and their projects below.
FAUZIA first broke through as a DJ, but the start of 2020 saw her showcase her own original music for the first time to high praise from the likes of Resident Advisor, Mixmag, DJ Mag, and Crack. She now expends her creative energy working on new music, continuing to DJ with a monthly NTS show, and with select live performances.
FAUZIA described her piece for the Black Composers Open Call as "a choral piece of music exploring the intertextuality of Black Women' (&nb) voices. An idea birthed in response to shattering stereotypes placed on us."
Thomas Harris is a Sound artist whose practice revolves around listening and sound. His work as both a live sound engineer and musician/sound artist has fed into each other over time and evolved into broad practice using electronic and acoustic instruments to perform improvisations, responsive to environments.
Thomas said of his project: "This project explores my bi-racial heritage through a soundscape composed with a combination of acoustic and electronic instruments, exploring the ambiguities, paradoxes and complexities of my lived experience. Accompanied with a Virtual Art exhibition hosted on New Art City, which will feature family photographs, voice recordings, sampled video footage offering social and cultural context to the composition. My connection to my black heritage is through my grandparents who are from the West Indies—this is what I know well—imagination combined with sometimes distant, sometimes intimate, sometimes intermittent atmosphere’s of feeling, fills in the spaces unknown."
Joy Nkoyo is an award-winning vocalist, music producer, composer, songwriter and pianist from the UK. The expanse of her work falls across multiple genres; from collaborating with singers and rappers, to writing for orchestral instruments.
Joy described her project: "The piece will take form as a music video in collaboration with director, James Lahaise. I want to look back on some of my formative memories in music and draw on feelings associated with retrospective contemplation; nostalgia/sorrow. I will revisit my childhood home on a council estate, where my musical relics still are, to reflect on how music existed in that space. Sonically, I will create textural layers with my voice, honouring the history of black vocal tradition, from traditional African vocal sounds, to blues, jazz and gospel. I believe the voice is the ultimate gateway instrument; it offers a way to create from nothing."