Cheryl Cole criticised for hosting R&B podcast on BBC Sounds

“I’ve always had an absolute love and passion for R&B,” Cole said in announcing the series

Cheryl Cole has received criticism for hosting a BBC Sounds podcast focussed on R&B, with fellow network presenters denouncing the former Girls Aloud member and X-Factor judge for taking a role that should have been given to a Black host.

Cole announced the podcast You, Me & R&B last week, tweeting that she’s “always had an absolute love and passion for R&B”. Among those criticising her are BBC Radio 1Xtra DJs Yasmin Evans and DJ Ace, the latter of whom made his opinions clear with a simple “lol”.

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Speaking to BBC Radio 1’s Newsbeat program, Uhura Zulu – who co-hosts the pop culture podcast Unpacked – said: “I honestly feel that if you’re going to give a platform about R&B music to a woman, and the platform is the BBC, it should be a Black woman musician.

“There are so many Black British female artists who have been overlooked within the UK constantly. These women are talented, they are knowledgeable, they are experts in their fields.”

Citing the likes of Mica Paris and Beverly Knight as examples, Zulu continued: “It feels like again, Black voices and Black talent is being pushed to the side and ignored. Yet again, there is a white woman being rewarded.

“Does she really have the credentials? From my understanding she’s a pop singer, not an R&B singer.”

Zulu’s comments were backed by Sheryl Nwosu, chair of the Black Music Coalition, who said it was unfair that Cole was being given such a large platform to speak about R&B – a genre largely spearheaded by Black artists – while Black artists that had more of a background in the genre were being ignored.

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“I think it really ignores some of the voices, which were raised in 2020, and some of the issues which were validly raised by Black artists within the music industry, who have specifically spoken of the lack of access to opportunities for them,” she said.

“[Cole has] never done anything to promote the genre, but she’s given this platform as a vehicle to promote herself and talk about herself using R&B as the backdrop.”

Responding to the backlash, BBC Sounds – which developed You, Me & R&B in tandem with BBC Radio 2 – issued a statement saying: “We feature a wide range of voices spanning different genres across our extensive music output. Many of our shows are fronted by DJs who are experts in their fields, others are hosted by people with a passion for their topic.”

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