The Flyover Show returns next month with the best of Black British talent
An arts festival showcasing the best of Black British creativity, returns to Birmingham’s most unlikely venue this August.
Set in the underpass of Hockley Flyover in the heart of inner city Birmingham, the Flyover Show hosts an impressive line-up of musicians, graffiti artists, performance poets and street dance crews will transform this neglected corner of Birmingham into a cultural haven.
The Flyover Show is the brainchild of internationally acclaimed jazz saxophonist and MC Soweto Kinch. Its purpose is to celebrate and reimagine Black British creativity in Kinch’s home town of Birmingham and beyond.
In previous years, the festival has featured some of the UK’s most prolific Black artists including Goldie, Maxi Priest, Ms Dynamite, Akala and Kinch himself.
The annual festival has also been a career game-changer for emerging local artists, including stars such as Lady Leshurr, Shabaka Hutchings, and the multi award-winning recording artist Laura Mvula.
This year sees two pioneering British female singer songwriters heading the lineup – Zara McFarlane (Vocalist of the Year 2018, JazzFM Award) and Ayanna Witter Johnson (MOBO nominee). Both bring highly personalised and original material combining the best in jazz, soul, classical and African-Caribbean influences with British sensibilities.
Some of the most influential Birmingham artists will also feature, including Ashley Allen, Janel Antoneshia and Truemendous.
Hockley is a deliberate choice of location, as an area often branded as rife with gun crime and racial tension. Soweto’s response is to reframe that narrative and transform it into a place known for promoting creative opportunity and expression. And from an acoustic point of view, the area couldn’t be better. The open space of the flyover underpass produces a resounding base boom, turning it into an urban amphitheatre for the many musicians that perform.
Soweto Kinch says:
“Flyover show celebrates Black British cultural traditions and provides an important platform for emerging and established artists alike. But its power lies in affirming positive associations with the local community. The only time we ever made the headlines here was for gun crime, knife crime and unemployment.
“I wanted to re-brand my own area and make spaces like this more habitable for different generations of residents, using the power of creativity to build identity, aspiration and pride, thus helping to counteract the underlying negative narrative of this postcode.”
Soweto is on a lifelong mission to use the arts to upskill communities and bring integration. Flyover Show VIII is training and supporting 32 arts volunteers to understand events skills, music communications and artist liaison processes and practices. The aim is to help grow an infrastructure of community led creative support for music organisers across the Midlands.
How did Flyover Show come about?
Launched in 2008, Flyover Show was established to identify new artistic voices, bring communities together and challenge the negative narrative of gun crime and social deprivation in Hockley’s multi-racial community. In celebrating the positive contributions of Black British artists, Flyover Show seeks to challenge misconceptions and raise aspiration through creativity.
Founded by Soweto Kinch and promoted by his company Uprize, Flyover Show takes place in the unconventional and challenging space of Hockley Flyover underpass. Now in its tenth year, it regularly draws crowds in excess of 6,000.
Previous artists include: Maxi Priest, Goldie, Akala, Ms Dynamite, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Janet Kay, Omar, Bashy, Ty, Jonzi D, Julian Joseph, Cleveland Watkiss, Jay Phelps, Andy Hamilton, Laura Mvula, Shabaka Hutchings and many others.
Soweto Kinch plans to extend the Flyover Show concept further and is currently working with artists in deprived areas in Mumbai and Johannesburg. The vision and impact of his original idea continues to grow, transforming derelict and abandoned spaces into exciting creative spaces, and presenting a new model of urban renewal.
Who is Soweto Kinch?
Award winning alto-saxophonist, MC and producer Soweto Kinch is one of the most exciting and versatile young musicians in British jazz and hip hop.
He has been blending jazz, funk, hip hop and poetry in original ways for years, racking up numerous awards on both sides of the Atlantic, including a Mercury Music Prize nomination, two UMA Awards and two MOBOs for best Jazz Act.
His skills as a hip hop MC and producer have garnered recognition in the urban music world, supporting the likes of KRS ONE, Dwele and TY, and being championed by the likes of Mos Def, Rodney P and BBC 1-Xtra’s Twin B.Kinch presents Jazz Nowon BBC Radio 3. He embarks on an international tour this Autumn following the release of his new album Nonagram.
Flyover VIII is pushing the benefits of music for well-being. The event is free so that as many people as possible can access an oasis of creativity. Flyover Show expects to attract crowds in excess of 6,000 on 18 August. Head to this once overlooked concrete underpass and discover for yourself Birmingham’s finest Black British artists.
The Flyover Show takes place at the Hockley Flyover Underpass in Birmingham on Saturday 18 August between 12.30pm – 9pm.