Young, Gifted and Black – 50 years on and still inspiring

It’s 50 years since Young, Gifted and Black peaked in the UK pop charts. Now Trojan Records is seeking content for a new website to mark this milestone and to promote Black excellence. Medya Gungor reports …

Bob Andy & Marcia Griffiths
Bob Andy & Marcia Griffiths
record cover

In the blink of an eye, we find ourselves already more than halfway through 2020; the year that defied all expectations as it threw us deep into the depths of the unknown.

Many of us have drawn new conclusions and revelations, while others have taken nostalgic trips into the past in order to make sense of a present, which at times, has felt firmly on pause.

Leading reggae label Trojan Records have delved back in time to express their ongoing support for the most profound universal movement this year, the Black Lives Matter campaign.

Recalling Black musicians and artists that defined history, the record label is celebrating 50 years since Bob and Marcia’s hit record Young, Gifted and Black peaked at number 5 in the UK chart by launching a new website showcasing Black excellence.

Originally recorded and released by Nina Simone in 1969, the song’s powerful message struck a chord with Black communities across the globe and contributed to US history as an anthem of the Civil Rights Movement. 

Writing the song with poet Weldon Irvine, Nina Simone told him that she wanted to lyrics that would “make Black children all over the world feel good about themselves forever”.

The UK National Theatre recently streamed Les Blancs, a play by activist Lorraine Hansberry, Nina Simone’s inspiration for the song and godmother to her daughter.

The song was covered by other artists as well as Bob and Marcia. Their version became increasingly popular in the UK, as the positivity and pride encompassed on the track was a true force to be reckoned with at a time when Black music was battling for the recognition it deserved in the mainstream media.

This resulted in the single becoming one of the first reggae tracks to make it into the top 5 of the official uk chart on 4 April 1970.

record cover

Memorable covers of the song were recorded by legends such as Donny HathawayElton John and Aretha Franklin, who used the title for a 1972 album. 

Trojan’s Young, Gifted and Black initiative pays respect to the cultural and musical significance of the Jamaican duo’s version.

Its mission is to highlight the plethora of young, Black individuals contributing to outstanding worldwide talent in 2020.

People are encouraged to submit photos and videos that share their stories of Black success with this content featuring on the new website, as part of a collection exhibiting an array of remarkable stories of the young, gifted and Black youth who are shaping the future.

All entries will be considered for inclusion in a new music video for the song that will be reimagining the message to capture a modern day audience.

As those who have expressed their commitment to the BLM movement are currently putting all companies under the microscope, the efforts of brands continuing to play a part in an active movement and ongoing conversation are welcomed.

In time, it will become clearer as to which brands have simply taken a seat on the old trending bandwagon versus those displaying genuine actions for positive change.

Big up Trojan Records for showing us how it’s done!