By King City Online ©
Members of UB40 have launched a new series of maps - celebrating the rich music heritage of Birmingham - being rolled out at 30 railway stations across their home city.
Revealing the first specially commissioned map at Hall Green station as part of the Musical Routes project, the reggae superstars welcomed the installation which immortalises music and musicians from the area, where alongside UB40, major artists such as Ocean Colour Scene and Laura Mvula started out in their careers. As founder member Robin Campbell told The Guardian:
“Birmingham has been a cultural melting pot for generations and it’s made some very successful musicians of all different genres, but we’ve never celebrated it really. Birmingham has never blown its own trumpet.”
Speaking alongside fellow bandmates James Brown, Earl Falconer and Norman Hassan, as well as new vocalist Matt Doyle, he said: “It’s about time we shouted it from the rooftops because we’re really proud of our Birmingham heritage.”
“People are starting to recognise things more, we have a walk of fame here now and they’re starting to put benches in the city commemorating different artists. I think it’s wonderful, the more of that there is, the more we can celebrate it. And it’s about time too.”
UB40 drummer James Brown commented:
“Birmingham informed everything we do, we wouldn’t exist without Birmingham. The cultural mix of the band, the style of the music, all that is informed by the fact that we were brought up in the city”.
Adam Regan, director of acclaimed live music venue and club The Hare & Hounds, located in nearby Kings Heath and which hosted UB40’s first-ever gig in 1979, joined the musicians to formally unveil the map. He said: “I think Brummies need to be cajoled into shouting about what they’re good at. There’s a lot of talent and music that has come from the region, and this will hopefully get people talking about it.”
Musical Routes, conceived and produced by the city’s Birmingham Music Archive, will take rail passengers on a route to the roots of Birmingham’s world-class musical heritage, thanks to funding from West Midlands Railway’s Your Community, Your Fund grant.
The maps celebrate top Brummie artists Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath, The Beat, Joan Armatrading, Andy Hamilton, Jamelia and Duran Duran, along with many more, as well as profiling iconic venues such as The Que Club and Rum Runner - giving visitors an instant insight into the stars that were born in the city and the venues that played host to them.
Birmingham Music Archive founder Jez Collins said: “I’m passionate about Birmingham’s music history, heritage and culture. As a city, we need to celebrate and promote these stories of global importance.
“Musical Routes will reach hundreds of thousands of people each year as they travel across the train network, especially ahead of an influx of visitors to the city for the Commonwealth Games in 2022. It’s a fantastic opportunity to highlight, through truly beautiful locally-produced maps, many of Birmingham’s truly great musicians and venues.”
“I want people to know more about Birmingham and its contribution to local, national and international music history, heritage and culture. We have an incredibly diverse city and our music reflects the diversity of our communities but many featuring on the maps don’t always get the recognition they deserve.”
The maps were originally designed for the For-wards project created by Bobbie-Jane Gardner and were researched, designed and produced by artist Claire Hartley and the Birmingham Music Archive. 30 intricate 3D wooden versions of the maps have
been produced by designers from Birmingham-based studio Space Play, and will feature Spotify codes that link to a curated playlist for each area.
Musical Routes is part of West Midlands Railway’s Your Community, Your Fund programme, with 21 community projects receiving funding.
Fay Easton, Head of Stakeholder and Community at West Midlands Railway, said: “Your Community, Your Fund was designed to bring life to community projects that would benefit our customers and we are so pleased to see this world-class concept delivered in Birmingham.
“Many local people and global visitors will be unaware of the musical talent that impacted world music from Birmingham and the Midlands. This talent should be celebrated, and we are proud to have been part of this project to bring Birmingham’s musical heritage to life at our stations.”
Maps will be installed at the following stations: Sutton Coldfield, Four Oaks, Wylde Green, Chester Road, Erdington, Gravelly Hill, Perry Barr, Hamstead, Jewellery Quarter, Duddeston, Aston, Witton, Bordesley, Small Heath, Adderley Park, Lea Hall, Five Ways; Spring Road; Hall Green; Yardley Wood; Acocks Green; Stechford; Tyseley; Selly Oak; Bournville; Kings Norton; Northfield and Longbridge. Two maps are set to be installed at University station - University and Perry Barr will get theirs following the completion of redevelopment work in 2022.
We’ll leave the last word to Jez Collins, the driving force behind the Birmjngham Music Museum, which is set to open in 2025. He told The Guardian:
“I noticed that we didn’t celebrate or recognise the achievements of musicians from the city, so I wanted to challenge that narrative and say actually Birmingham is a city of music. Manchester, Liverpool, London, Glasgow – they have all recognised their music culture and we haven’t.”
“If you don’t know about the things that have happened in your area, and you’re told that nothing of value ever comes from the place you live, you can stop and look at these maps,” said Collins. “Music culture resides everywhere and hopefully these maps will inspire people a little bit.”
For more information about the Musical Routes
For more information on the Birmingham Music Archive