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(Credit: Alterna2)

Music

Skin of Skunk Anansie discusses how racism underplayed her role as the first black Glastonbury headliner

Back in 1999, Skin became the first black woman to headline Glastonbury Festival as her band Skunk Anansie delivered an iconic performance that paved the way for the likes of Beyonce and Stormzy who have since gone on to headline. 

However, the legendary British musician has claimed that her role as a trailblazer was underplayed by an undercurrent of systemic racism in the press

Speaking to Retro Pop magazine, Skin stated: “I can claim being the first Black woman. I’ll tell you what, it wasn’t f****** Beyoncé!”

Continuing: “Now, when you do something and you’re the first Black person to do it, it’s expected that everybody talks about it and you shout it from the top of the hill. You make as much noise about it as possible. 

Adding: “But in those days, the racism was that, ‘You’re just like every other band and we’re just gonna treat you like the other band’. But then they don’t treat you like every other band, because every other band gets the TV shows and radio and stuff.”

She also commented on how the situation was even worse across the pond. “In America, the racism is just out there. They’re like, ‘Well, we don’t like bands with a Black lead singer.’ They said that to us in America,” she said.  

Concluding: “In England, they did this whole thing like, ‘Oh, we just don’t like her voice,’ or, ‘Oh, we just don’t like the single’. They won’t actually come out and say, ‘We don’t like Black people playing rock music.’ They’ll just pretend that there are other reasons and it’s not their problem. That’s the British way.”

Hopefully, thanks to work by organisations like Black Lives in Music and the trailblazing work of the artists themselves, things can be more progressive and egalitarian as we move forward. After all, music is the perfect vehicle to unite us and Glastonbury proves that perfectly. 

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