delve into birmingham's sound system history

Photography, film, memorabilia and a big old vintage sound system are on show in the city.

by Stuart Brumfitt
03 August 2015, 12:18am

Photo courtesy Wassifa collection

As we gear up for Carnival season in the UK, Let's Go (Yorkshire) are presenting Sound System Culture: Birmingham, an exhibition at the The Drum Arts Centre in the city. The photographs, recordings, films, flyers, posters will be on show from 6th August and will chart the culture from ska and rocksteady through to digi roots and dancehall. The main focus of the show will be on roots reggae sound sytems of the 70s and early 80s and their righteous Rastafari messages. 

Studio City sound crew, 1974. Founded in 1970, Studio City was a popular sound system from Small Heath, Birmingham, that became well known for entertaining audiences around the country. They also had the honour of educating and inspiring teenage members of what would later become the band UB40. Photo courtesy Lewis Fairfield collection

The team behind the exhibition have also created a vintage sound system of record deck, amps, speaker boxes and dubplates, so visitors can see where the sounds were really coming from back in the day. It's the same project that saw the publication of what is arguably the world's best kid's book, The Sonar System. Curators Mandeep Samra and David Schischka Thomas have worked on the exhibition to try and show how significant a part of UK the sound systems are.

Sound System Culture: Birmingham runs from 6th August - 7th September.

People inside the West Indian community centre in Winson Green, Birmingham, 1979, gathered around a speaker box belonging to Black Roots sound system. Photo © Vanley Burke

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