Earlier this year, YouTube announced its Black Voices Fund (BVF), which is part of the platform’s broader effort to support marginalised communities — who are still underrepresented in many respects. Initially launched in 2020, YouTube’s BVF program aims to provide assistance and support for Black creators on the platform in order to help them maximise their content performance. Now, the platform has revealed the artists for the 2023 class.
One of those musicians is revered Homerton-raised rapper Unknown T. Discussing his inclusion in the class, the artist said: “Being in the class of 2023 feels good; when you look at the level of talent on the list, it just makes me want to get in my bag even more. In an era where there’s so many metrics to say what is what, sometimes it’s important for creatives to be rewarded for and reminded about what stands above all, the art.”
When asked what else could be done to champion Black music and talent globally, the rapper responded: “Don’t be lazy with it! Give us the resources, genuine power, platforms and freedom to express ourselves! Don’t box us in, assign any labels to us, or virtue signal; just let us be a pure representation of our own individual art and let it talk for itself. Then amplify those messages we are sending.”
London-based experimental rock duo Nova Twins – who were recently nominated for a MOBO – were also included on the list, and expressed the importance of such initiatives. “This kind of support is crucial to help elevate our voices, strengthen our ideas and widen representation for future generations. We need more initiatives like this worldwide, those that are easily accessible regardless of circumstances, as talent can be found anywhere,” said the group.
Meanwhile, East London-based singer and producer Kali Claire – who rounds out the UK artists receiving the fund – expressed the benefits of the fund for an independent artist like herself. “This year, being fully independent, I’ve had to fund, market and plan without a massive external team. It’s been so empowering to have so much control as a woman in this industry; although it can be exhausting, being a part of this class makes me feel a bit more accepted,” explained Claire.
She then went on to highlight the significance of mental health warfare in the industry. “The inclusion of Black founded music genres isn’t the problem for me, it’s the welfare of the musicians that are actually creating! Providing therapy would be an amazing start. It’s such a taboo topic in the music industry. We only discuss the importance of mental health when the problem is already out of control.”
Sheniece Charway, YouTube’s Artist Relations Manager, described how the BVF would provide support for the artists selected. “YouTube allows artists to connect across the globe, and with initiatives like the BVF, it allows them to support one another. It creates a family and community, which I think is super important. This year’s class is so unique and exciting, we have rock, r&b and drill and it just shows how eclectic Black voices are.”
The full list of recipients for 2023’s Black Voices Fund can be found below.
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