October is Black History Month in the UK. Much like its American counterpart, the Black History Month across the pond is observed every year to celebrate the black people who have contributed in shaping the UK.
Black History Month serves as a reminder of the achievements of British black people, who are often overlooked throughout history. First started more than 30 years ago, it's an occasion that has become more important in recent years, as Brexit looms.
In conjunction with this year's Black History Month, Apple Music UK has invited some of today's most influential black Britons to curate their own playlists. Austin Daboh, Apple Music’s head of editorial for UK & Ireland, believes that "Black history is 24/7 365;" still, there's no timelier moment than now to celebrate British black musicians.
The curators range from actresses like Letitia Wright and Naomi Ackie, to soccer player Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, activist Lady Phyll, musicians like Craig David, Jorja Smith and Raleigh Ritchie, and many more.
Most people probably knows Ritchie, whose real name is Jacob Anderson, as the actor who plays Grey Worm in Game of Thrones, but when he's not throwing shade at the show's disappointing finale, he's also a talented R&B singer and songwriter. After a series of EPs, Ritchie finally released his debut album, You're a Man Now, Boy in 2016, which was met with positive reviews.
In a statement he wrote for Apple Music, Ritchie credits the black Britons for inspiring him the most. "In what can be an unfairly competitive and sometimes hostile industry for black songwriters, these artists are vanguards, history-makers and pioneers," he says. "These artists make me proud to be a songwriter, they've made me feel represented they've encouraged me to be brave. I've compiled this playlist to celebrate and share just a fraction of their eclectic contribution to British music."
Apple Music UK also enlists the help of journalist Tshepo Mokoena to break down some of black British music genres as an accompaniment to the playlists.
Check out the compete playlists here.