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Townsounds: A celebration of Huddersfield’s musical heritage

A musically inspired project named ‘TOWNSOUNDS’ by Let’s Go Yorkshire has launched in Huddersfield as part of the upcoming Kirklees Year of Music in 2023. The project will shine a light on the richness and diversity of Huddersfield’s musical heritage to capture its unique sound history.

The project originally began in 2019 when the organisation developed the TOWNSOUNDS website which provides a snapshot of Huddersfield’s rich musical heritage – past and present – and charts how music-making in the town has strengthened not only the town’s civic identity, but also social networks and notions of community.

Since then, the project has expanded into a heritage project supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund to document the histories, stories and sounds that make up the town’s musical DNA and how it has brought communities together and helped to shape its identity.

As part of the project Let’s Go Yorkshire will create a collection of 7 inch vinyl stories that will include soundbites from a collection of interviews relating to bhangra, reggae, gospel, parang, steel bands, brass bands and kirtan (Sikh devotional music of yoga). The vinyl will be showcased alongside a brand new exhibition in 2023 as part of the Kirklees Year of Music 2023.

The heritage project was officially launched to the public with the TOWNSOUNDS Street Party, which took place on the 17th and 18th September, in collaboration with Huddersfield Carnival, AXIS VALV-A-TRON and Northern Quarter. Both days were publicised as family events to encourage people and their families back to the town centre and were very well attended.

Both events involved local DJs Dr Valvatron (AXIS VALV-A-TRON SOUND SYSTEM), Dee Bo General (GATES OF ZION SOUND SYSTEM) and Marshall (ZION INNA-VISION SOUND SYSTEM) who all spun vinyl on #HeritageHiFi outside the Northern Quarter, bringing reggae music to the street!

The second day of the street part featured Huddersfield Carnival’s showpiece costume and dancers from the Mas Band. Plus Northern Quarter’s long awaited FOUNDATION vintage and classic reggae night returned.

Talking about TOWNSOUNDS, curator Mandy Samra said: “The TOWNSOUNDS Street Party was a great start to the project and helped us to promote the project to the wider public. Currently we are gathering oral history interviews that will inform the development of an exhibition, documentary-film and learning packs that will become a key strand in the Year of Music 2023.”

Find out more about TOWNSOUNDS via the Instagram page: @_town_sounds_