Mykaell Riley, Director and Principal of the Black Research Music Unit, chaired and took part in a jazz music event and concert with Jazz Jamaica All Stars entitled ‘The Trojan Story’ on Sunday 18 July at the Southbank Centre.
The day-long event invited guests to celebrate and learn about the music, culture and heritage of the iconic Trojan Records label, which specialises in ska, rocksteady, reggae and dub music. The label, which was established in London in 1968, became the first label to distribute Jamaican music on a grand scale and became the go-to label for Jamaican music and culture in the UK.
The Trojan Story event that took place at the Southbank Centre and was livestreamed online featured a range of performances of Trojan Records classics, as well as student ensembles and an exhibition created and curated by Mykaell Riley.
The exhibition tells the story and history of Trojan Records through record sleeves, press clippings, photographs and text, which aimed to further explore all things Trojan, particularly the artists and the music itself. It includes images of Brent Reggae musicians by Orlando Gili, and was commissioned by the Brent 2020 London Borough of Culture.
As well as creating this historic exhibition, Riley also chaired an interview with Carrol Thompson, Zerritha Brown, Gary Cosby and Brinsley Forde, where they spoke about the impact of Trojan on their careers and British popular music.
The Trojan Story is part of a wider project ‘The Reggae Ticket’ which launched in October 2019 with support from Arts Council England. It builds on The Trojan Story through secondary schools community choirs and ensembles to give young people the opportunity to learn about the music, culture and heritage of Trojan Records.
The event closed with the Jazz Jamaica All Stars performances, with a line-up featuring saxophonists Denys Baptiste and Camilla George, members of jazz string ensemble Tomorrow’s Warriors StringTing and rising vocal stars Dem Three. They were also joined by Reggae Choir, who were led by award-winning jazz vocalist Zara McFarlane.
Talking about the event, Mykaell Riley said: “It was a long day that started with sunshine and the setting up of the Trojan exhibition, midday interviews with reggae legends, and an evening’s concert where the warmth and excitement of celebrating black British popular music was palpable.”
Learn more about The Trojan Story event on the Southbank Centre website.
Find out more about music courses at the University of Westminster.