The event host and panellists sitting on a raised platform with audience in front.

Soundsystem music event raises money for Windrush descendants

DJs and creatives gathered to celebrate soundsystem culture at The Social in Oxford Circus yesterday to raise money for Windrush descendants.

The panel discussed soundsystem history and DJs performed on both of the venue’s floors. 

Originating in Kingston, Jamaica, soundsystem culture made it into London in the mid 50s, bringing genres including ska, rocksteady, and reggae, all blasted from custom-build speakers.

The atmosphere was vibrant, with people of all ages and fashion persuasions coming together to dance.

Linett Kamala – a DJ and panellist at the event, and the first female to DJ at Notting Hill Carnival – stressed the importance of the music’s connections with Caribbean immigrants.

She said: “It came out of being excluded from spaces, being discriminated against, people not being able to excel with their talents. It’s come from community, from families.

“It’s very easy for people to forget that and think it’s just a party. Well it’s not.

“It’s about looking at the contributions of the Caribbean people who were brought here by the government. They built up the NHS, they built up the transport systems.”

Linett was born in Harlesden, north west London, to Jamaican parents, and her relationship with soundsystems began at Carnival in the 80s, as a child of the Windrush generation.

In the world of music technology, the 40s are a long time away, but Linett, who now sits on the Carnival’s board of directors, deems it important to uphold the soundsystem musical tradition.

She added: “We need to know which community brought this culture, and it’s now had a global reach.”

But the panel also emphasised the importance of letting new generations uphold the musical legacy.

Linett has set up the Lin Kam Art Sound System Futures Programme which offers training and experience to young people looking to break into the Notting Hill Carnival sound system scene and leads the Original Sounds Collective which aims to amplify the presence of women in sound system culture.

Also on the panel is Mark The Professor who owns more than 15,000 records and works the Mighty Ruler Soundsystem, restored from the early 60s in lockdown.

Next to him is Nicholas Daley, a menswear designer who recently made the V&A glass walls shake when he brought a soundsystem to score his Friday Late exhibition.

Soundsystem(s) was presented by 948 Collective and Jumbi, with the aim of raising money for the Windrush Legacy Grant, which will fund a ‘creative and cultural practitioner’ who directly descends the Windrush Generation.

Applications for the grant will open later this year.

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