Netflix’s recent star-studded release, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, adapted from the Pulitzer-winning dramatist August Wilson’s 1982 play, brings one of the US’s first professional blues singers back into the cultural sphere. The larger than life, gold tooth-wearing Ma Rainey, famed “Mother of the Blues”, is played with regal poise by Viola Davis, who fires off pointed retorts from beneath an impenetrable mask of make-up.
Known for her thunderous, moaning voice, sharp comic timing and compelling...
This is Unsung – a Crack Magazine podcast on Sonos Radio where the world’s greatest artists reveal their heroes who never caught the spotlight. This episode Samuel T Herring, frontman and songwriter for Future islands, joins journalist Stephanie Phillips to speak to his unsung choice - Morphine. The American, punk-blues, low rock led by Mark Sandman formed in 1989 was embraced by the indie community but never found mainstream success.
In all of Netflix’s festive programming, a film that reimagined a Black female blues pioneer is the most talked-about of the season. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, an adaptation of August Wilson’s Eighties play, captures early blues icon Rainey as she and her band prepare to record in 1920s Chicago.
Though you may not realise it, an unusual occurrence is taking place right now – Bob Mould is not on tour. As the frontman of 1980s punk pioneers Hüsker Dü and 90s trio Sugar, and a successful solo artist, Mould has spent his 40 year career in a cycle of writing, recording and touring the world. For the first time in a long time, he has stopped, just when he needed to be out there the most.
Ask David Oyelowo why he wanted to be an actor and he’ll tell you it was simply all about the storytelling. It is an honourable outlook that many actors espouse, but whether due to timing or wider cultural anxieties, too often Oyelowo has found his identity creates its own story too.
‘If our band was fronted by a white girl, people would get it’: How the UK fails Black indie musicians
Cast an eye over the UK charts and British Black music has never been stronger, from Stormzy and Headie One to Jorja Smith and AJ Tracey. But for many Black artists who make music that’s considered more “alternative”, away from the commercial currents of pop and rap, the music industry can feel less than welcoming.
The meeting of minds between pop polymath Devonté Hynes and Call Me By Your Name director Luca Guadagnino makes perfect sense. Both make work that’s rich in vulnerability and fragility, that is visceral yet tender, explores gender fluidity and identity, and evokes the awkward anguish of youth. They are so simpatico, in fact, that what started off as a small cameo by Hynes in Guadagnino’s new eight-part HBO/BBC Three series soon turned into a full-blown collaboration.
‘If Ray BLK did disco she would have been instantly relegated to Radio 2’: In search of the Black disco queens
The biggest so-called disco records of 2020, from Dua Lipa to Kylie, have all been made by white pop stars. Stephanie Phillips speaks to Solange producer Kindness, Jamz Supernova and the Studio 54 label and asks why the genre continues to be whitewashed
I was the guest editor at M Magazine for the first week of October for their special Black History Month edition. I led on editorial choices, worked with freelancers, researched article ideas, and wrote pieces for the edition. Other guest editors that month included Jesse Bernard, Michelle Escoffery and Ben Wynter.
Black musicians have played an essential role in the history of alternative music yet are often overlooked in favour of their white counterparts because they don't fit the industry standard. Today, the next generation of indie and punk bands seem far more content to create music outside of what is expected. This week's Black History Month Guest Editor, Stephanie Phillips, explores how Black British artists have shaped the scene.
Winner of the best documentary award at the 2019 BFI London Film Festival, White Riot celebrates the grassroots tactics of the 1970s movement Rock Against Racism to target a rising tide of hatred. What can we learn from the punks?
I wrote biography of the history of the LGBT live music and club night QUEER. I gathered information by interviewing the promoter, researching past events, and interviewing artists who have participated in the night.
Dream Nails’ debut album has a spectacular opening; “I fear nothing and no one except the temptation to hold back,” vocalist Janey Starling and guitarist Anya Pearson proclaim fiercely. For a group that pride themselves on being “feminist punk witches”, it’s only fitting to kick off a record through a positive affirmation before walloping us over the head with a truckload of chaotic, pop-punk melodies.
Following the release of The Passion Of Stephanie Phillips speaks to New Orleans punks Special Interest about the POC punk community and being part of a legacy.