Acclaimed Back2Black festival arrives in London this summer
for the first ever edition outside Brazil

Hosted by and featuring Gilberto Gil
Part of the London 2012 Festival

Fri 29, Sat 30 June & Sun 1 July 2012
Old Billingsgate, London EC3R 6DX

The Barbican today announces that the three-day Back2Black festival arrives in London this summer as part of the London 2012 Festival, in the first ever iteration outside Brazil, hosted by and featuring Gilberto Gil and produced by the Barbican in association with Zoocom Events and Serious.

Launched in Rio de Janeiro in 2009, the annual Back2Black festival has quickly established itself as one of the foremost cultural events in Brazil attracting over 35,000 visitors to date. A pioneer in promoting global appreciation for black culture in Brazil, this curated festival explores new ways of presenting music and art and aims to entertain, raise awareness, further cultural exchange and rebuild bridges, bringing Brazil back in touch with its African Heritage.

Since its inaugural edition, the Back2Black festival has taken place in the beautiful setting of the disused Leopoldina railway station close to downtown Rio de Janeiro. To recreate a similar setting, the London festival will be held at Old Billingsgate in the heart of East London, with four different stages and an extensive offering of concerts, debates and exhibitions. The eclectic line-up will feature more than 30 Brazilian, UK and international artists, groups, thinkers and leaders, including host Gilberto Gil. A large-scale exhibition by Brazilian artist and director Bia Lessa forms the backdrop of the festival. Further festival line-up details to be announced on 8 March.

This first London Back2Black festival features a strong emphasis on UK African connections and communities including Afro-Caribbean artists and brings together a heady mix of different traditions and musical genres, including Samba, Jazz, Funk, R’n’B, Blues, Rock, Reggae, Dub and Hip Hop – all of which have been heavily informed by Africa.

London audiences will be able to sample the rhythms, flavours, colours, sounds and styles of our contemporary society which originate from Africa, with African and Brazilian food and drink complementing the festival experience.
Back2Black festival organiser Connie Lopes said: Back2Black is a project born out of the need to rebuild bridges, bringing Africa back to Brazil. No one disputes the strong African roots of Brazilian culture, although they have been ignored for several decades… The idea is to show the African influence in our contemporary culture. The festival is a celebration of rhythm, sound, social and economic awareness, colours and styles of a new pop world. We are proud to bring the festival to London this summer as part of the Cultural Olympiad, before the games arrive in Rio in 2016 – Back2Black is a perfect platform to celebrate the important African roots of UK culture and communities in London, too.

Bryn Ormrod , Music Programmer at the Barbican, said: We at the Barbican are thrilled to co-produce the first Back2Black festival outside Brazil here in London in the Olympic year. The festival theme of celebrating the strong African roots and influences which are so predominant in both the Brazilian and UK music and culture is perfect for London and its diverse communities and even more so this summer, when the world's eyes will be on our city.


Barbican Box Office: 0845 120 7550

Press Information

For any further information, images or to arrange interviews, please contact the Barbican’s music media relations team:

Annikaisa Vainio, Media Relations Manager
t - +44 (0)20 7382 7090
e -

Sabine Kindel, Senior Media Relations Officer
t - +44 (0)20 7382 6199
e –

Naomi Burgoyne , Media Relations Officer
t - +44 (0)20 7382 6196
e –

Rob Severyn-Kosinski, Media Relations Assistant
t - +44 (0)20 7382 6138
e –

Or, Back2Black in Brazil on:

Canivello Comunica çao / Factoria Comunica çao
Mario Canivello:
Vanessa Cardoso:
Eduardo Marques:
Tel: (55-21) 2274.0131 / 2239.0835 / 2249.1598

Notes to Editors

About the Barbican
A world-class arts and learning organisation, the Barbican pushes the boundaries of all major art forms including dance, film, music, theatre and visual arts. Our creative learning programme further underpins everything we do. In 2012 we celebrate the Olympic year with many of our projects forming part of the Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 Festival – it is also our 30th Birthday year. Over 1.5 million people pass through our doors annually, hundreds of artists and performers are featured, and more than 300 staff work onsite. Our architecturally renowned centre opened in 1982 and comprises the Barbican Hall, the Barbican Theatre, the Pit, Cinema One (with Cinemas Two and Three opening in Beech Street in September 2012), Barbican Art Gallery, a second gallery The Curve, foyers and public spaces, a library, Lakeside Terrace, a glasshouse conservatory, conference facilities and three restaurants.

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Pioneer in promoting global appreciation for black culture in Brazil, Back2Black festival has established itself as one of the most complete cultural events in the country. Many illustrious attractions from Brazil and around the globe have appeared in the festival’s previous editons. Since its debut in 2009, more than 50,000 people have hit the event’s different stages to watch memorable performances from more than 100 artists such as Jorge Ben Jor, Marisa Monte, Arnaldo Antunes, Carlinhos Brown, Seu Jorge, Macy Gray, Aloe Blacc, Chaka Khan, Oumou Sangaré, Taj Mahal, Dave Stewart, Seun Kuti, Youssou N’Dour, Erykah Badu, and Omara Portuondo. In addition to the music, art exhibitions and teachings from great contemporary world figures including Bob Geldof, Gavin Hood, José Eduardo Agualusa, Mia Couto, Wael Ghonim, Jamila Raqib, Daniel Cohn-Bendit, Os Gêmeos and Vik Muniz have enlightened the festival’s concept in renovating the connection between Brazilian modern-day culture and its African roots.
Further info at:

About the Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 Festival
The London 2012 Cultural Olympiad is the largest cultural celebration in the history of the modern Olympic and Paralympic Movements. Spread over four years, it is designed to give everyone in the UK a chance to be part of London 2012 and inspire creativity across all forms of culture, especially among young people.

The culmination of the Cultural Olympiad will be the London 2012 Festival, a spectacular 12-week nationwide celebration bringing together leading artists from across the world with the very best from the UK, from Midsummers Day on 21 June and running until the final day of the Paralympic Games on 9 September 2012.The London 2012 Festival will celebrate the huge range, quality and accessibility of the UK’s world-class culture including dance, music, theatre, the visual arts, fashion, film and digital innovation, giving the opportunity for people across the UK to celebrate the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Principal funders of the Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 Festival are Arts Council England, Legacy Trust UK and the Olympic Lottery Distributor. BP and BT are Premier Partners of the Cultural Olympiad and the London 2012 Festival.

For more details on the programme and to sign up for information visit

Gilberto Gil


  Back2Black Press Release.pdf

Press enquiries:
For further information, press tickets, images or to arrange interviews, please contact:

Annikaisa Vainio, Media Relations Manager
t - +44 (0)20 7382 7090
e -


Sabine Kindel, Senior Media Relations Officer
t - + 44 (0)20 7382 6199
e - sabine.kindel


Naomi Burgoyne, Media Relations Officer
t - +44 (0)20 7382 6196
e - naomi.burgoyne


Rob Severyn-Kosinski, Media Relations Assistant
t - +44 (0)20 7382 6138
e - robert.severyn-kosinski