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Skunk Anansie’s Skin discusses the real problem with that error over Stormzy’s Glastonbury performance

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Hollie Richardson
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Skunk comments on Stormzy at Glastonbury

Iconic rock singer Skin has opened up about why she called out Stormzy for mistakenly calling himself the first black person to headline Glastonbury – and it involves Beyoncé. 

Skin was the first ever British black person to headline Glastonbury. Performing on the Pyramid stage with her band Skunk Anansie in 1999, it was a historical moment for black women in music.

The band were part of the Britrock movement (as opposed to Britpop) and brought a raw energy to the 90s scene with hits such as Hedonism, Weak, Charity and Selling Jesus. Racism, sexism and fascism continue to be strong themes in their work, as they are currently touring around the UK with new music. 

But the iconic lead singer recently had to remind Stormzy of her band’s Glastonbury success after his own headline performance this year.

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Grime artist Stormzy – who had incorrectly called himself the first black artist to headline Glastonbury Festival on his social media – was quick to stand corrected and apologise for the mistake.

“I am [the] first black British artist to headline Glastonbury,” he wrote on his Instagram ahead of the performance. “At 25 years old I am the second youngest solo act to ever headline Glastonbury, the youngest being a 24 year old David Bowie in 1971. I’m overwhelmed with emotions, this is the most surreal feeling I’ve ever experienced.” 

Skin replied, writing: “Sorry Stormzy but we beat you to it in 1999! 20 years ago! And while we’re on topic, I was the first black Woman too! @beyonce Wishing you an awesome nite tho, Kill it! You’re amazing and we’re all very proud. ps. Real question is why it took 20 years!”

Stormzy then responded: “Skin from the band Skin Anansie was actually the first black artist to headline Glasto she done it with her band in 1999 no disrespect intended and MASSIVE salute to you - my apologies !”

Skunk headlining Glastonbury in 1999.
Skunk headlining Glastonbury in 1999.

Now, Skin has spoken out about why it was important to publicly make the correction. It’s because the error was made eight years after Beyoncé was also falsely hailed as the first black female headliner.

In an interview with The Guardian, she explained: “If I’m really honest, I was way more irritated when Beyoncé said she was the first black woman. I really like Stormzy and I think he does a lot of good. I would never tear that guy down and I would never start a beef and take that moment away from him. But I had to stick up for myself.”

She added: “The guy has so much class. He DM’d me personally and it was a lovely message. We had a little conversation. We’re all proud of the fact he’s a black man, doing the black man things.”

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While Skin clearly isn’t throwing shade at either artist, it of course understandable why she is “irritated” with how the media has reported such an important story about gender and race in music. All three acts undeniably gave iconic performances and they all pave the way for black music artists. 

Images: Getty