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This special event organised by the Institute of Historical Research and the Institute of Commonwealth Studies in partnership with the AHRC-funded project ‘The Windrush Scandal in a Transnational and Commonwealth Context’ looks at the ways in which music has reflected the experiences of the ‘Windrush Generation’ and contributed to the betterment of British society. We are delighted to announce that we will be joined by three very special guests: 

Professor Shirley Thompson OBE is an internationally renowned composer, conductor, violinist and filmmaker. Born in London to Jamaican parents, Shirley has maintained a long-running interest in exploring the histories of the Windrush Generation, dating back to her 1992 film Memories in Mind: Women of the Windrush Tell Their Stories. She subsequently composed an operatic work, Women of the Windrush, which has been performed several times including at RADA. She was invited to compose a work for the first commemoration of Windrush Day in 2018 and created Psalm to Windrush for the Brave and Ingenious which was performed at Westminster Abbey and at the National Windrush Monument Unveiling on 22 June 2022. Shirley will be talking about the part her music has played in recognising the contribution of the West Indian diaspora. 

Daniel Rachel is a musician-turned-award-winning-author.  His first book, Isle of Noises: Conversations with Great British Songwriters, was a Guardian and NME Book of the Year. His 2017 book, Walls Come Tumbling Down: the music and politics of Rock Against Racism, 2 Tone and Red Wedge won the the Penderyn Music Book prize. He followed this in 2019 with Don't Look Back in Anger: The rise and Fall of Cool Britannia, an Evening Standard and Metro Book of the Year. His latest book, Like Some Forgotten Dream: What if the Beatles hadn’t split up was published in 2021. Daniel will be talking about racism in the British music industry, the Rock Against Racism movement, 2 Tone and Red Wedge.


Alexander D Great (Alexander Loewenthal), is a professional musician and songwriter who has appeared on stage, television and radio in Trinidad, Dominica, Canada and the UK. Born in Port of Spain, Trinidad, and brought up in London, Alexander began his musical career in the 1960s and rediscovered his calypso roots in the late 1980s. From February 2000 until July 2012 he was calypsonian-in-residence for the BBC and he was UK Calypso Monarch in 2010 and 2011. Alexander has also appeared on Britain’s Got Talent. He is Calypsonian in Residence for the Windrush Foundation, composing commissioned songs about people and topics pertaining to the Windrush story. For this event, he will perform a variety of songs including some that explore the struggle of the ‘Windrush Generation’.


Chair: Dr Juanita Cox (School of Advanced Study. Research Fellow on the ‘Windrush Scandal in a Transnational and Commonwealth Context’).



All welcome

This event is free to attend, but booking is required.