Born OTD in 1938, Jamaican singer-songwriter and producer, Cecil Bustamente Campbell, AKA Prince Buster. Campbell became more actively involved in the operational side of running a sound system after he was introduced to Clement ‘Coxsone’ Dodd, a musically inclined businessman who operated one of Kingston’s most popular sound systems. Campbell found himself fulfilling a variety of roles for Coxsone: providing security, handling ticket receipts, identifying & sourcing music as well as working in the essential role of selector. The knowledge he gained about the financial & logistical aspects of staging a sound system dance was put to good use when Campbell made the decision to start his own sound system called ‘Voice of the People’

Mind-boggling discography devoted to the Jamaican releases of Prince Buster’s productions from 1961’s Oh Carolina by the Folkes Brothers to … More

Born OTD in 1923, Trinidad-born writer, Samuel ‘Sam’ Selvon. At Waterloo Station, hopeful new arrivals from the West Indies step off the boat train, ready to start afresh in 1950s London. There, homesick Moses Aloetta, who has already lived in the city for years, meets Henry ‘Sir Galahad’ Oliver and shows him the ropes. In this strange, cold and foggy city where the natives can be less than friendly at the sight of a black face, has Galahad met his Waterloo?

But the irrepressible newcomer cannot be cast down. He and all the other lonely new Londoners – from shiftless Cap … More

The Legacy of the Blues : A Glimpse into the Art and the Lives of Twelve Great Bluesmen. Samuel Charters is a musicographer, novelist, poet, and producer of jazz and blues records who for many years has also been seriously interested in every aspect of black music. His book, The Country Blues, was the first to be published on the subject.

He began making field recordings in the South in the early 1950s and has subsequently produced many recordings, both of … More

Born OTD in 1928, American poet, singer, memoirist, and civil rights activist, Maya Angelou. Angelou publicly discussed aspects of her personal life. She was respected as a spokesperson for black people and women, and her works have been considered a defense of black culture. Her works are widely used in schools and universities worldwide, although attempts have been made to ban her books from some U.S. libraries. Angelou’s most celebrated works have been labeled as autobiographical fiction, but many critics consider them to be autobiographies. She made a deliberate attempt to challenge the common structure of the autobiography by critiquing, changing & expanding the genre. Her books center on themes such as racism, identity, family and travel.

Maya Angelou’s seven volumes of autobiography are a testament to the talents and resilience of this extraordinary writer. Loving the … More

Born OTD in 1943, saxaphonist with The Soul Vendors, (AKA Soul Dimension), & The Skatalites, Cedric “Im” Brooks. Brooks became a pupil at the renowned Alpha Boys School aged 11, where he learned music theory and clarinet. In his late teens he took up tenor saxophone and flute.

One of the most intriguing, eccentric and original musicians to emerge from reggae is Cedric ‘I’M’ Brooks, the tenor saxophonist … More

Pre-order Benjamin Zephaniah’s autobiography out soon in paperback, here. Benjamin Zephaniah, who has travelled the world for his art & his humanitarianism, now tells the one story that encompasses it all: the story of his life. In the early 1980s when punks and Rastas were on the streets protesting about unemployment, homelessness & the National Front, Benjamin’s poetry could be heard at demonstrations, outside police stations & on the dance floor. His mission was to take poetry everywhere, & to popularise it by reaching people who didn’t read books.

His poetry was political, musical, radical and relevant. By the early 1990s, Benjamin had performed on every continent in the … More

Born OTD in 1928, American poet, singer, memoirist, and civil rights activist, Maya Angelou. Maya Angelou’s seven volumes of autobiography are a testament to the talents & resilience of this extraordinary writer. Loving the world, she also knows its cruelty. As a Black woman she has known discrimination and extreme poverty, but also hope, joy, achievement and celebration.

In this first volume of her six books of autobiography, Maya Angelou beautifully evokes her childhood with her grandmother in … More

Born OTD in 1940, Jamaican artist popular for rhythm & blues, ska rocksteady and skinhead reggae, Derrick Morgan. “When singers making songs like the one Derrick Morgan made that went [sings] ‘Rudie don’t fear no boy / rudie don’t fear’, it was because that rude-boy fearlessness was seen as an act of defiance” Jimmy Cliff.

The first major account of the history of reggae, black music journalist Lloyd Bradley describes its origins and development in … More

Born OTD in 1942, American singer, songwriter, pianist, and civil rights activist, Aretha Franklin.”…Then there was Houston’s Soul Bowl ’69, a three-day benefit concert at the Houston Astrodome where Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles and Sam & Dave performed to raise money for low-cost ghetto housing and to support micro-businesses in inner-city America.”

In 1969, among Harlem’s Rabelaisian cast of characters are bandleader King Curtis, soul singers Aretha Franklin and Donny Hathaway, and … More