Evelyn Dove was a singer and actress, heralded as Britain’s black cabaret queen. She belongs among such greats as Josephine Baker. The daughter of a Sierra Leonean barrister and his English wife, Dove studied singing, piano and elocution from an early age, and graduated from the Royal Academy of Music.
She joined the Southern Syncopated Orchestra – West Indian, West African and American musicians – but in 1921, 9 of them drowned in an accident at sea. Dove toured Western Europe, the US and India. She was the first black female singer on the BC, and one of her shows was so successful they turned it into a TV show. By the 1940s Evelyn Dove was a household name.
Travis Alabanza is an unapologetically Black, trans, gender nonconforming performance artist, theatre maker, poet and writer. They have performed in venues from the V&A, to the Tate, to Bat Wotever, and recently toured the US. Their performances and art practices are purposely disruptive and challenging, often deliberately making their audiences uncomfortable at realising the racism, transphobia, fetishisation and exclusion that Alabanza highlights and speaks to in their work. In May 2017, instead of filling Transmission Gallery with their own work, as requested, Alabanza curated a space for over 20 Black British artists to exhibit, in “a creative clapback to the white walls that normally plaster our vision.”