UK Disability History Month 2018 – Music


This week saw the launch of UK Disability History Month, which runs from today until the 22nd Dec 2018.

John is playing music, sitting in his wheelchair in front of a laptop and tech set up, his adapted guitar the kellycaster slung round his neck with a rainbow strap

UKDHM is an annual event creating a platform to focus on the history of disabled people’s struggle for equality and human rights, celebrating lives, challenging ableism and working towards achieving equality.

This year the theme is music and the month was launched with an event at Portcullis House, featuring speeches from Shadow Disability Minister Marsha de Cordova MP, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell MP, Sir Richard Stilgoe, Richard Rieser and more.

Alongside the speeches we were treated to performances and interviews with talented disabled musicians including Dame Evelyn Glennie, Lizzie Emeh, Tinuke Jonah and our very own John Kelly.

John is playing music to an audience in a large meeting room, rows of people smile as they listen

John played two rallying protest songs on the Kellycaster, rousing the crowd with “Battle in Whitehall” and “We don’t fit in a box” which was commissioned by Drake Music for our inclusive music ed festival earlier this year.

It was fantastic to see such a positive celebration of disabled artists, but it was also a powerful reminder of how far there still is to go to achieve true musical equality.

We need more disabled artists on line ups for gigs and festivals along with more disabled composers, conductors and performers in classical music. We want to hear music by disabled artists on the radio and streaming on Spotify. We want to go to events programmed by disabled people and buy music from disabled-led labels.

Let’s open things up and broaden our conception of what ‘counts’ as ‘proper music’.

Let’s have more opportunities, instruments, support and celebration of work by disabled artists.

Celebrate with us during #UKDHM2018 by amplifying the messages of as many disabled artists as you can. Share, tweet, repost, stream, go to gigs and hear some incredible new music.

John gives a sideways grin to the crowd as he plays protest songs in Portcullis House