A Tribute to Our Father – Carl Kirton

A Man and His Music – Collector and Historian

In 2014, Black Cultural Archives received a donation of material that had been owned by Carl Kirton. Carl Kirton was a Guyanese music and recording enthusiast who came to Britain in 1960. With his own home recording studio, he developed a personal collection over many years, comprising of a vast amount of vinyl records, audio cassettes, VHS tapes, and even Betamax and reel-to-reel tape.

We have been working with the Kirton family to preserve this invaluable collection that covers musical genres reggae, blues, jazz, steel pan, and calypso. Sadrine Kirton shared a tribute to her father:

“Our father was a unique, conscious and complex man. Fiercely passionate about life, music, and his people. Music was indeed his Life. Growing up, weekends our home became a lively, creative hub, bringing together aspiring and professional musicians, poets and old friends and family from “home”, Guyana, and beyond.

He was a firm believer in the pursuit of knowledge and the power of a good education, which is what brought him to the UK in 1958. I knew no other family, either then or now who regularly held a “Sunday debate” after church and lunch around the dining table. He encouraged healthy discourse and open opinions on current affairs. Generous with his time and support, he made no distinction between genders where the mind and personal views were concerned. A rare thing especially amongst men of his generation.

Quality in all things was his mantra and he had high expectations of himself and others, but the music was always his thing. His passion. Whether listening to, recording or mixing, his breadth of knowledge was outstanding. From morning till night the strains of Mahler, Marley or Mingus emanated from his front room. But it was always Coltrane that touched him the deepest.

Remarkable and inspirational, his legacy lives on.”

“If ah so, ah so!”

A selection of seminal vinyl records from Carl Kirton’s collection is on display as part of the current Black Sound exhibition, which tells the story of 100 years of musical creativity and DIY ingenuity of Black British music. Black Sound is on display until 4 November 2017 at Black Cultural Archives.

Join us for a tribute celebration to Carl Kirton on Friday 19 May, 6.30pm-9.00pm with jazz and acoustic performances from bassist Gary Crosby OBE, singer Kianja Elliot-Harvey and saxophonist and former Jazz Warrior Steve Williams. Tickets available online.

If you are interested in finding out more about the Carl Kirton collection, search our collection catalogue using reference AC2014 or get in touch with our Collections Team, archives@bcaheritage.org.uk

Image: Carl Kirton. Shown by kind permission of the Kirton family. Part of Black Cultural Archives collection.

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