Black History Month | Saluting Our Sisters

Learn more about many of music’s unsung Black women…



Black History Month is an annual celebration of Black creativity and culture.

From some of the best Black female artists to session players, Black musicians, artists and producers are at the heartbeat of the creative industries. 

This year, Black History Month’s theme is 'Saluting our Sisters', a theme paying "homage to Black women who have had their contributions ignored, ideas appropriated, and voices silenced".

Here, we celebrate many of the unsung musical heroes who are changing the conversation around race, perceptions and talent within the music industry.

Big Joanie

Alongside Nova Twins (and ICMP Scholarship Ambassadors), punk trio Big Joanie are rewiring perceptions of guitar music 

Over two well-received albums - ‘Sistahs’ and ‘Back Home’ - their most recent release, the group have blazed a trail forward, mixing up punk vitriol with clever songwriting and an expansive sound. 

Alongside their own material, the group has supported riot grrrl pioneers Bikini Kill on their recent shows, toured the US and were among the bands nominated at the MOBOs as part of a brand-new Best Alternative Music Act category. This was unveiled after a campaign led by Nova Twins called for the ceremony to acknowledge rock as music of Black origin. 

Frontwoman Stephanie Philips is also author of the critically acclaimed book, ‘Why Solange Matters’.

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DJ Flight 

DJ Flight is a DJ, broadcaster, radio producer, podcaster and mentor who is revered as one of the pioneers of drum and bass.

As a DJ, she has held residencies at clubs including Metalheadz and Swerve while her productions have been heard via labels on Bassbin and Product. She recently marked 25 years in dance music by embarking on a ‘25 Years of Flight’ tour and won the DJ Mag award for Outstanding Contribution to dance music. 

In 2018 she co-founded EQ50 - a collective of women working towards fairer representation in drum'n'bass and beyond while she has also turned her hand to radio work. Her achievements include ‘Turn It Up: A Short History of Drum & Bass’, a BBC radio documentary produced and narrated by Flight, and ‘Windrush Stories’, an award-winning podcast series exploring the Caribbean experience in Britain.

Hannah Montrose 

Hannah Montrose is an alumna of ICMP, studying on our HNC Drums course before furthering her education with a BA in Music Performance. 

Since leaving education, her musical career has taken her to some of the biggest stages, performing with the likes of US pop star Lizzo, Emeli Sande and many more. 

Other achievements include gracing stages at high-profile events including the Opening and Closing Ceremonies at the 2012 London Olympics and The National Television Awards.


Carla Marie Williams 

Many of pop music’s big names are powered by songwriters working behind the scenes and Carla Marie is among the UK’s most influential.

Brought up in Harlesden in London, she was raised on dancehall sounds before immersing herself in the creative process, landing a publishing deal with Xenomania and crafting songs for pop group Girls Aloud. 

Her songwriting has since become much in demand, with her skills helping create hits for a diverse range of artists including Britney Spears, Naughty Boy, Kylie Minogue and Naughty Boy. 

In 2016, she founded Girls I Rate, a female movement that pushes for positive change, equality and opportunities for women in the music and creative industries.

She has also recently been named among the first recipients of the Ivors Academy Honours


Featuring Jorja Douglas, Stella Quaresma, and Renée Downer, the pop trio formed in 2019 and have been steadily developing their musical abilities, working with producers including MNEK to hone their sound. 

Success has started to come over the last 18 months following the release of their debut EP, ‘The Lead’, in 2022. 

Drawing on classic R&B and hip hop styles, the trio topped the BBC's Sound of 2023 poll, won the 2023 Brit Award for Rising Star and were among the artists to feature on Stormzy’s latest album, ‘This is What I Mean’


Phoebe Gold 

Phoebe Gold is an ICMP BA Songwriting alumna making big waves withing the music industry as manager of PinkPantheress, winner of the BBC Sound of 2022 accolade.

Phoebe began hosting events across the capital before launching her Up Close Management business. 

PinkPantheress' breakout hit, ‘Just For Me’, went from TikTok sensation to the UK top 40 hit in the summer with Coldplay deciding to cover it in Radio 1’s Live Lounge. 

In 2021, Phoebe was also selected as one of the awardees of the Music Managers Forum Accelerator Programme. She was also nominated in the Breakthrough category of the Artist and Manager Awards

Errollyn Wallen

Errollyn Wallen is a multi award-winning Belize-born British composer and performer with a musical career featuring a huge catalogue of orchestral, chamber and vocal works. 

Her music has blazed a trail for Black women in contemporary classical music. 

She was the first Black woman to have a work featured in the Proms and the first woman to receive an Ivor Novello award for Classical Music for her body of work. 

Her achievements include composing for the opening ceremony of the Paralympic Games 2012, for the Queen’s Golden and Diamond Jubilees, a specially commissioned song for the climate change conference, COP 26, 2021.


Brought up in Walthamstow, Sherelle is one of dance music’s energetic talents, blending rave, jungle and footwork sounds in her take on contemporary electronics. 

Her breakthrough moment was back in 2019 with a Boiler Room set that went viral. Since, then accolades have been plentiful including a debut EP, named Best DJ by DJ Mag and a mix for London club Fabric.   

Sherelle is also known for co-founding the label Hoversound and for founding Beautiful, a label and musical project for Black and LGBTQ+ musicians. 


Eliza Rose

Eliza Rose is an artist and producer who took the charts by storm with her ‘B.O.T.A. (Baddest Of Them All)’ track back in 2022. 

The song, made with producer Interplanetary Criminal, made waves, going viral on TikTok and enjoyed two weeks at number one. According to the Official Charts Company, the track was the first to hit the top spot by a female DJ since Sonique's ‘It Feels So Good’ in 2000. 

Eliza has since continued to release music and DJ, all inspired and informed by her love for nineties rave culture. 


Tiana Major9

Tiana Major9 is one of the UK’s most rapidly emerging vocalists and songwriters. Drawing on classic soul and hip hop styles, they have released an array of solo tracks and EPs alongside some high profile collaborations. 

Featured in Vogue, they have appeared on Stormzy’s track ‘Rainfall’ and been nominated for a Grammy.

Among their other achievements, Tiana has also signed with the iconic Motown Records, appeared on the soundtrack to Steve McQueen’s 'Small Axe' series and made a cameo appearance in Stormzy's star-studded video to his song, 'Mel Made Me Do It'


Take the first steps in your music career with ICMP

We've been developing and delivering contemporary music education for over 30 years – longer than any other music school in the UK. With a proven track-record, countless music industry connections and unrivalled access to facilities, it's easy to see why hundreds of students choose ICMP each year. 

To completely immerse yourself in your music career, chat with our friendly Admissions Team via email or give them a call on 020 7328 0222.

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by ICMP staff writer
October 5, 2023
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