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BBC Radio 2 - 24 Hours Of Music by Black Artists - I Have A Dream Day

BBC Radio 2 - 24 Hours Of Music by Black Artists - I Have A Dream Day magazine cover

BBC  Radio 2 will mark the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s iconic 'I Have A Dream'  speech by playing 24 hours of music made by black artists starting tonight at 10pm.

Martin Luther King’s iconic speech was made on the 28 August 1963 in Washington DC 

BBC introduction

The station will mark the occasion by celebrating the incredible contribution that black artists have made to the world of music and culture by playing 24 hours of some of the greatest music ever made by black artists from the 1950s to the present day, with further specials across the following weekend.

Kicking off with a special edition of Trevor Nelson’s Rhythm Nation (Thursday 27 August, 10pm-midnight), OJ Borg (Friday 28 August, midnight-3am) picks up the story which continues all day through to Sounds Of The 90s (Friday 28 August, 10pm-midnight). Listeners will hear hits from a huge range of artists including Aretha Franklin, Prince, John Legend, Sade, Bob Marley, Joan Armatrading, Whitney Houston, Soul II Soul, Alicia Keys, Lizzo, Stevie Wonder and many more.

From Friday night and across the weekend, some of the world’s best loved musicians from across the decades will be guest presenting Radio 2’s Sounds Of… shows, telling the story of black music from those eras - Martha Reeves (Sounds Of The 60s), Nile Rodgers (Sounds Of The 70s), Neneh Cherry (Sounds Of The 80s), Toni Braxton (Sounds Of The 90s).

Trevor Nelson says: “Martin Luther King’s I Have A Dream speech has resonated with me since I was a child and is still relevant today. I think it’s fantastic that Radio 2 are celebrating its anniversary by playing some of the greatest music by black artists.”

Jeff Smith, Head of Music Radio 2, says: “Black artists are, and always have been, pivotal to the development of popular music and the music we play on Radio 2. We play the best of the best pop music new and old, so our I Have A Dream Day, whilst marking the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s historic speech in 1963, gives us a wonderful opportunity to focus on playing our favourite music across the genres and across the eras all together in one epic day-long playlist.”

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Less obviously political but still making a point that aligns with MLK's march for equal rights. One of those examples where a cover can come through stronger:


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The BBC has a terrible history when it comes to playing/supporting music created by black performers, be they American or British. I wonder just how often some of the music featured during this 24 hr period was playlisted and heard on the BBC when it was originally released? Even A list black artists struggled to have their music played on Radio 1 in the late 60s through the 70s and well into the 80s. 

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