Tag Archives: media studies

New chapter on Winnie Atwell

BBJ cover imageI’m very pleased to be part of a new book, Black British Jazz: Routes, Ownership and Performance, edited by Jason Toynbee, Catherine Tackley and Mark Doffman, in which I go back to look again at the 1950s pianist, chart-topper, and television presenter, Winifred Atwell. My chapter is called ‘Winifred Atwell and her “other piano”: 16 hit singles and “a blanket of silence”, sounding the limits of jazz’. You can find information about all the chapters for the entire collection at the Black British Jazz contents page, while below is the book’s blurb:

Black British musicians have been making jazz since around 1920 when the genre first arrived in Britain. This groundbreaking book reveals their hidden history and major contribution to the development of jazz in the UK. More than this, though, the chapters show the importance of black British jazz in terms of musical hybridity and the cultural significance of race. Decades before Steel Pulse, Soul II Soul, or Dizzee Rascal pushed their way into the mainstream, black British musicians were playing jazz in venues up and down the country from dance halls to tiny clubs. In an important sense, then, black British jazz demonstrates the crucial importance of musical migration in the musical history of the nation, and the links between popular and avant-garde forms. But the volume also provides a case study in how music of the African diaspora reverberates around the world, beyond the shores of the USA—the engine-house of global black music. As such it will engage scholars of music and cultural studies not only in Britain, but across the world.

And here is a link to the Google Book version of the collection:

[Extract from introduction to my chapter] … From Tunapuna, Trinidad, Winifred Atwell (c. 1914-1983) was a classically trained ragtime and boogie-woogie style pianist who gained quite remarkable popularity in Britain, and later also Australia, in the 1950s, in live and recorded music, as well as in the developing television industry. In this chapter I outline her extraordinary international musical biography as a chart-topping pop and television star—innovative achievements for a black migrant female musician which are arguably thrown into more dramatic light by virtue of the fact that Atwell has been Wiinifred Atwell and her 'other piano' with rhythm accompaniment (no. 1, 1954)and remains a neglected figure in media and popular music (let alone jazz) history. I pay particular attention to her performative tactics and repertoire, developing material I introduced first in Circular Breathing: The Cultural Politics of Jazz in Britain. But our interest in Atwell should stem not only from her position as a significant figure neglected by history, for she speaks also to definitional issues of jazz. The chapter progresses into a discussion of the extent to which Atwell is a limit case of jazz in the developing pop world of the 1950s on….

Atwell topped the British singles charts twice, with 14 other top-30 singles during the 1950s, and she was also the first black million-selling singles artist in British pop history. Most of these achievements were the result of her playing jazz-derived instrumental music (solo or with a trio or quartet: piano-guitar-bass-drums). (Here you can read an interview I did with her drummer from the period, Colin Bailey.) Hers was a striking early example of a multiplatform media and music success: prestigious live performances and international tours, hit records, pop-jazz and classical repertoires, radio broadcasts, sheet music and piano instruction book sales, television presenter fronting her own series (on both main British channels and in Australia), and film appearances on screen and in the soundtrack….

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Ian Dury, ‘Spasticus Autisticus’, original press release, 1981

Spasticus Autisticus press release 1981

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Salford Media Festival, Connected Communities media panel 19 November

Salford Media Festival website screengrabSalford Media Festival at MediaCityUK this week brings together over 500 media professionals, ranging from traditional and new media content creators, to commissioners, producers, broadcasters and policymakers. And academics. This year the festival celebrates its 20th anniversary, going back to the very first Television from the Nations and Regions conference in 1993.

I have organised a panel about Media and Community in Research Projects for Tuesday afternoon. Speakers:

  • Prof Ann Light (University of Northumbria)
  • Tamar Millen (Arts Co-ordinator, Community Media Association)
  • Dr Sarita Malik (Brunel University)
  • Dave Harte (Birmingham City University)
  • Gemma Thorpe (Photographer and Educator)
  • Dr Toby Pillatt (Researcher).

BFI logoThis panel introduces some of the ideas behind the AHRC’s Connected Communities Programme, and has presentations—including some screen extracts—from four projects that work directly with media and media partners. Dave Harte will talk about the Creative Citizens project, one of the Connected Communities large grants in the creative sector, and in particular about his work in hyperlocal news / media. Sarita Malik will present on her project Community Filmmaking and Cultural Diversity, which is in partnership with the British Film Institute. Gemma Thorpe and Toby Pillatt will discuss their project with Cumbrian hill-farmers, and the notion of filmmaking as (creative) research. Ann Light and Tamar Millen will talk about their project, in collaboration with the Community Media Association, to conserve the various media outputs that the Connected Communities programme has funded in a dedicated archive or collection.

CMA logo

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Digital Economy ‘All Hands Meeting’, Connected Communities workshop, 5 November

DE2013 is the fourth All Hands annual meeting of the Digital Economy RCUK priority areas. This year it is being held at MediaCityUK, Salford Quays, with the theme of Open Digital. 4-6 November. As part of my Connected Communities Leadership Fellow activities I have organised a workshop at DE2013 this week where we will be showcasing some of our activities around digital community.

Workshop A: Working digitally with communities: the Connected Communities Programme, digital activities, culture and community

Date and time: Tuesday 5 November, 3-5.30 pm

The purpose is to introduce the digital research of a small number of the many projects funded in the AHRC Connected Communities Programme. The projects to be discussed are focused on understanding and harnessing the potential of digital technologies in two specific areas:

  • extending the creative practice of knowledge exchange into co-production and co-design (projects working with community partners
  • using digital devices and technologies within contexts of community identity / resilience / arts practice.

I will briefly introduce the AHRC Connected Communities Programme—both in terms its funded projects (with emphasis on those with a digital / cultural brief) and in terms of current and future funding opportunities, both for academics and community / industry partners in the audience. Then there will be presentations, with screenings / hands-on demonstrations, from four researchers / community partners from different projects about their work.

Here are our workshop contents:

  • George McKay, University of Salford/AHRC Leadership Fellow for Connected Communities Programme, chair: Introduction 

to the Connected Communities Programme, funding, partners, scope and aims.

  • Colin Lorne, PhD researcher, Birmingham University: ‘MapLocal’ – Engaging Communities in Participatory Planning through Mobile Technologies

MapLocal is designed as a tool to help communities gather information about their neighbourhoods. The idea is that people walk around their neighbourhood taking photographs and making voice recordings using our smartphone app. The pictures and audio clips are then uploaded to a central map which can be accessed on the MapLocal website. As more people from the local area take part, more and more information about the neighbourhood appears on that community’s map, building a detailed picture of the area.

MapLocal can be used for different purposes, for example, gathering information about a local area in preparation for the production of a local plan which communities in England and Wales have been empowered to make under the provisions of the Localism Act, 2011. It could also be used for local campaigns to highlight issues in a neighbourhood that need addressing or as a means of recording the history of an area that is about to be radically changed as part of a regeneration scheme.

The MapLocal app is available to download for free via Google Play, search: ‘MapLocal’ https://maplocal.org.uk

  • Prof Chris Speed, Edinburgh College of Art/Edinburgh University: Mr Seel’s Garden, Digital Sentinel work: the role of territorial clouds

Mr Seel’s Garden was a Connected Communities project in Liverpool, focusing on urban horticulture and history, and working with museums, community gardeners, beekeepers, and Transition Liverpool; the Digital Sentinel is an output of a Connected Communities project in Edinburgh, working with a local community to produce a new, online version of a defunct community newspaper, the Wester Hailes Sentinelhttp://www.mrseelsgarden.org http://ds.iamts.co.uk

  • Dr Josh Cameron, University of Brighton: Constructing a resilient community of practice across the Connected Communities Programme: online connection of researchers

With 280 funded projects and 400 community partners to date, how do we communicate across the Connected Communities Programme? An online ‘community of practice’ (CoP) approach will promote inclusive discussion. CoPs were developed as a way for groups made up of people from differing backgrounds (eg social, cultural, occupational) and with different types of expertise (eg personal experience, practitioner, academic) to effectively collaborate around a shared area of concern. Whilst originally developed for face to face discussions, there is a promising, but limited, body of research suggesting that digital CoPs can be effective. Indeed CoPs may be even more inclusive when online as it becomes possible for discussion to be open to the wider public. This form of Community-University collaboration represents a much more ‘horizontal’ form of engagement than the more traditional ‘vertical’ model implicit in the Mass Open Online Courses (MOOCS) that has gained much recent attention.

  • Prof Mike Wilson, Falmouth University: University of the Village project

University of the Village explores a learning model which focuses on the community, rather than the individual. One of the key aspects of the project is the co-design of a creative curriculum which can be then delivered from the university campus directly to the village via superfast broadband. University of the Village looks at new modes of delivering learning opportunities, enhanced through Next Generation Access (NGA) Broadband. NGA or superfast broadband is already recognised as being critical to the development of business and the economy in the UK; university of the Village explores how it can be harnessed to support learning, which in turn supports the development of the creative rural economy and the sustainability of village communities. http://www.falmouth.ac.uk/research-case-studies/university-village

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