It’s been 75 years since the HMT Empire Windrush docked in Tilbury, Essex carrying passengers from the Caribbean to fill labour shortages in the UK. Its 492 passengers, and others who arrived in the UK from Caribbean countries between 1948 and 1971, became known as the Windrush generation. Unfortunately, many of those who arrived in Britain faced discrimination, and hundreds were wrongly targeted by immigration enforcement. As a result, many elderly people were suddenly barred from working, refused access to government services, and lost access to welfare benefits. In some cases, they were even detained and deported. Those who arrived in the UK left a huge impact on the country’s music, culture and food, and one artist who is looking to continue on the traditions of her family’s rich culture is singer-songwriter CHERISE. On Windrush Day, the singer released her latest single ‘Calling’ – “a celebration of being a 2nd gen Jamaican Brit.” Here, CHERISE gives us her picks for the best tunes to celebrate those who arrived here 75 years ago on Windrush Day.
Hak Baker – ‘Windrush Baby’
Hak and I have a lot in common! We’re both Brit-born Jamaicans with a lot of family pride. I love that he doesn’t try to edit himself or his voice in life or his music. He’s a Londoner at heart, and his music represents being a young Black Brit with authenticity.
Bob Marley and The Wailers – ‘Small Axe’
I was introduced to this song via film Director Steve McQueens limited BBC Series ‘Small Axes’ (2020). This series showcased five distinctive Windrush stories of West Indian Migration between the 1960s and 1980s. Ranging from the British Education system and the Mangrove 9, to exploring and showcasing soundsystem culture – I felt like my Mothers experiences were being recognised on an international scale, and that was deeply precious.
Daniel Caesar ft. Koffee – ‘CYANIDE REMIX’
This collaboration is a DREAM COME TRUE as a soul singer of Jamaican Heritage! I adore Daniel Caesar’s music, and this collaboration with KOFFEE shines a light on both of their best qualities.
Free Nationals, Chronixx – ‘Eternal Light’
I play this song when I teach weekly classes in South East London. The words “Good Vibration ya, that’s the positive vibes that we creating ya” – having this spoken as people flow through their yoga practice is very grounding.
Jorja Smith ft. Popcaan – ‘Come Over’
Jorja is a Brit of Jamaican heritage! And this collaboration with Popcaan has such a stellar West Indian vibe. I’m very excited about her next project.
Richie Spice – ‘Brown Skin’
‘Brown Skin’ is a classic! I always heard it at Sunday Family parties. It makes me reminisce big time. I think of curry chicken, fried fish, rice and peas… aunties fanning themselves with paper plates while dancing. Good times.
Little Simz, Cleo Sol – ‘Woman’
This song brings me such Black joy! Little Simz listing off the countries of Black Women throughout the song and highlighting the positive aspects of their culture honestly makes my heart melt. She gives love to us Jamaican Women, too… the unity is top tear.
Victoria Monet ft. Buju Banton – ‘Party Girls’
The collaboration between Victoria Money and Buju Banton makes me think about the golden age of 00s R&B. When everyone was collaborating with Sean Paul, haha. Reggae’s contribution to Pop and R&B is immense! And I’m in full support of its resurgence.
Tiana Major9 – ‘Think About You’
Tiana Major9! A Jamaican Brit who is now signed to Motown Records! A soul queen… I’m so gassed about her and her career. Hearing her on the soundtrack to the Queen & Slim movie was a joy to see.
CHERISE – ‘2 Steppin”
2 Steppin’ is a song I wrote when inspired by the way my St. James-born Grandad would 2 step down Ridley Road Market (East London) with confidence and style. It’s like he didn’t have a care in the world, and it was a marvel to witness as a child.