News 16 October 2017
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Author: Courtney W

#BHM: 7 times Black Excellence has triumphed in 2017

16 October 2017
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Every October in the UK, the achievements and contributions of the black British community are celebrated in the form of Black History Month.

Although the name of the celebration suggests October is centred around past events in Britain, Black History Month also gives us a chance to highlight the current achievements of black Britons and what a year 2017 has been for many of Britain’s black stars!

From the success of Stormzy’s debut album, to Anthony Joshua’s intense battle against Klitschko, we have witnessed the beauty of black excellence in the form of a number of momentous events and accolades. Below are just seven instances of black British entertainers demonstrating black excellence in 2017 so far.

 

Ray BLK – Winner of BBC’s Sound of 2017 Poll 

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Following the success of her 2016 hit single “Chill Out”, Ray BLK entered this year on a high note as the unsigned 23-year-old was named the winner of BBC’s Sound of 2017 poll in January. The Sound Of list aims to shed light on emerging British talent and the south Londoner’s win is a testament to the potential within her.

Speaking of her win earlier this year, Ray said, “I feel so honoured to have topped the list this early in my career and join such an incredible alumni of winners”. The incredible alumni Ray BLK speaks of includes Ellie Goulding, Sam Smith and the fifteen-time Grammy winner Adele, as they are all previous winners of BBC’s Sound Of. With a big win such as Sound of and comparisons such as “the Lauryn Hill of the UK” so early on in her career, Ray BLK is definitely an artist to keep an eye on in the next few years.

Stormzy – No.1 Album in the UK

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After grafting in the studio for the last few months of 2016, Stormzy returned in February with his highly anticipated, debut studio album Gang Signs & Prayer. The South London rapper’s combination of relatable content, such as battling depression, and raw passion resonated with his supporters earned Stormzy the number one spot in the Official Album Charts back in March. Since then, GSAP has continued to grow in popularity and Stormzy celebrated the success of the album last month by releasing a short film to coincide with the key themes of the project.

When he’s not demonstrating black excellence, the 24-year-old is encouraging it as Stormzy made headlines during summer for donating £9000 to a black Oxford student to fund her course at Harvard. With a number one album under his belt and various other achievements, Stormzy is definitely in the running for the ‘Man of the Year’ title.

Sampha – Crowned 2017’s Hyuandai Mercury Prize Winner

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Despite releasing several singles and feature verses over the years, Sampha finally released his debut studio album, Process, in February of this year and the record caught the attention of many music critics. Last month, the soulful singer-songwriter was rewarded for his talents when he was crowned the winner of the 2017 Hyundai Mercury Prize for his moving and heartfelt LP. The award, which celebrates artistic achievement across all genres, recognised the authenticity of the project and earned the respect of the diverse panel of voters. Competition for the award was fierce this year as Sampha was up against other talented musicians including J Hus, Loyle Carner and the aforementioned Stormzy.

Anthony Joshua – Victory Against Klitschko

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Over the years, Anthony Joshua has proved he’s a force to be reckoned with in the realm of boxing and earlier this year, his reputation reached new heights after his epic victory against Wladimir Klitschko. Prior to the fight, boxing fanatics were expecting a thrilling spectacle but nobody could have anticipated the hard-hitting performance the two boxers put on for the 90,000 spectators at Wembley. Despite being knocked down in the sixth round, AJ regained his composure and went on to retain his world heavyweight title by knocking out the 41-year-old with a few powerful blows in the eleventh round. AJ’s persistence and determination to succeed is a lesson to us all and we can expect the humble Watford boxer to participate in more historic fights in the future.

Michaela Coel –Receiver of Best Scripted Show Award

E4’s hilarious sitcom Chewing Gum first aired on the small screens in 2015 and the show’s dynamic creator and lead actress, Michaela Coel, has had the nation laughing ever since. During the summer, Chewing Gum received the award for Best Scripted Show at the 2017 Broadcast Digital Awards. Similarly to Chewing Gum, Coel’s acceptance speech saw the BAFTA-winning actress deliver an inspiring message while simultaneously making the audience burst out in laughter at her quirky sense of humour. Recently, Michaela Coel stated she had no plans of writing a third series of Chewing Gum but did say she’ll be “focusing on other projects”. While we wait to see what the star has lined up, watch Coel’s powerful acceptance speech at the Broadcast Digital Awards above.

 

Boy Better Know – O2 Takeover

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To perform at the O2 is a big move for any act but the BBK collective took things one step further in August when they took over the entire O2 complex for a day. BBK’s one-day festival was comprised of several different activities including roller disco, five-a-side football and, of course, live performances. Boy Better Know’s O2 takeover definitely represents a watershed moment for urban culture and the celebratory nature of the event was brought to life when the BBK boys took to the main stage to close the festival.  As one of the most innovative groups in the UK, BBK will definitely continue to break down more doors in the future while also making history in the process.

 

Laura Mvula – Winner of Ivor Novello’s ‘Best Album’ Award

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Since its establishment in 1956, the Ivor Novello Awards has gone on to become one of Britain’s most prestigious music awards and this year Laura Mvula scooped the award for Best Album for her 2016 LP, The Dreaming Room. The 12-track project sees the soul singer elegantly fuse pop, jazz and R&B to create a modern masterpiece. Mvula, a former supply teacher, has publicly spoken on the complications of fame so to receive an award which solely celebrates “excellent songwriting and composing” can only be a refreshing achievement for the Birmingham musician.