Back2Black Festival lineup announced

The initial acts for Gilberto Gil’s Back2Black festival in London have been announced today.

The three-day Back2Black festival arrives in London this summer as part of the London 2012 Festival, in the first ever iteration outside Brazil.

Held over three days (29 June to July 1st) at Old Billingsgate on the Thames in East London, it will also be hosted by and feature Gilberto Gil.

Other acts include:

Toumani Diabaté + Arnaldo Antunes + Edgard Scandurra;

Roots Manuva;


Fatoumata Diawara;

Marcelo D2;

Mart'nalia and

Luiz Melodia, with many more still to be announced.

Launched in Rio de Janeiro in 2009, the annual Back2Black festival has quickly established itself as one of the foremost cultural events in Brazil attracting over 35,000 visitors to date.

The key theme of this curated festival is to promote wider appreciation for black culture in Brazil, by exploring new ways of presenting music and art. It aims to entertain, raise awareness, further cultural exchange and rebuild bridges, bringing Brazil back in touch with its African Heritage.

This first London Back2Black festival features a strong emphasis on UK-African connections and communities including Afro-Caribbean artists and brings together a heady mix of different traditions and musical genres - including Samba, Jazz, Funk, R’n’B, Blues, Rock, Reggae, Dub and Hip Hop – all of which have been heavily informed by Africa.

Since its inaugural edition, the Back2Black festival has taken place in the beautiful setting of the disused Leopoldina railway station close to downtown Rio de Janeiro.

To recreate a similar setting, the London festival will be held at Old Billingsgate, with three stages and an extensive offering of concerts, debates and exhibitions.

The eclectic line-up will feature more than 20 Brazilian, UK and international artists, groups, thinkers and leaders.

A large-scale exhibition by Brazilian artist and director Bia Lessa forms the backdrop of the festival. (29 & 30 June & 1 July. It is all part of the bigger London 2012 Festival also.

Complementing but separate from the Back2Black Festival, Gilberto Gil will play the Barbican Hall with the London Symphony Orchestra and conductor Francois-Xavier Roth on the 4th of July. The evening features new arrangements of Gil’s songs by Jaques Morelenbaum, and music originating from and influenced by Brazil, including works by Heitor Villa-Lobos and Darius Milhaud

In other news, Rokia Traoré comes to London for three projects in June. Produced by the Barbican, these projects are called Donguili - Donke - Damou (translated as ‘Sing - Dance - Dream’ from the Malian language, Bambara) and reflect a wide range of new works Rokia Traoré is developing.

Donguili is centered around a collaboration between UK and European musicians who will visit Rokia Traoré’s Music Institute in Bamako which works with young emerging musicians.

Donke focuses on Rokia Traoré’s new album, with award winning producer John Parrish at the helm, and features some of the same musicians in a club gig at Village Underground in Shoreditch.

The third project Damou is an intimate acoustic evening of music and traditional Manding storytelling at Wilton’s Music Hall. (18, 22 & 23 June. Part of the London 2012 Festival)