Have You Heard George’s Podcast? returns to BBC Sounds

Chapter 3 of the award-winning Have You Heard George’s Podcast? with George Mpanga, AKA George The Poet, and producer Benbrick, returns to BBC Sounds from today.

Episodes will also be broadcast weekly on BBC Radio 1Xtra and Radio 4, with music mixes to accompany selected episodes available only on BBC Sounds.

It includes spoken word, archive, drama, interviews, meticulous sound design and collaborators including ZeZe Mills, Alhan, and Big Narstie, and with music from Stormzy, Mahalia, Ella Mai and more.

The highly acclaimed Chapter 2 made history when it became the first podcast outside of the US to win a Peabody Award, frequently cited as the most respected in US media.

The scope and ambition of Chapter 3 is just as extraordinary, with George’s train of thought taking listeners on a journey through black music and how it intersects with society and culture.

It will feature key moments in music history from the 60s and the civil rights movement, dancehall and Jamaican gangster culture, R&B, the portrayal of black relationships and the black family, how rap defined a generation, and an episode devoted entirely to Jay Z’s back story.

Chapter 3 gets personal too, as George introduces his fiance, Sandra. He reflects on their 15-year friendship, sharing what he has learned through the transition to a relationship and finally to marriage. He celebrates black love and talks about the structure and importance of family.

George Mpanga says: “I have an idea. For years I have written poems about the highs and lows of black life, and for years the driving force behind this poetry has been black music. In this upcoming chapter, I will look at the unifying power of this music, and how it has transformed the world. These episodes will walk you through historic injustices that sparked black music movements, which created fresh opportunities – over and over again.

“This process has always seemed random. Jazz in America. Reggae in Jamaica. Grime in Britain. But it’s clearly not random. What if the world anticipated this genius? What if 150 years of musical innovations in the harshest circumstances have proven black music to be a safe bet? What if the listeners supporting this music were able to tackle the problems behind it? Could this be the future of art?

“To test this idea out, I have created an interactive platform – called Common Ground. This online discussion space allows listeners to dive into the world behind the words alongside original artworks by global artists.”

Benbrick, producer of Have You Heard George’s Podcast? says: “I am so lucky to collaborate with George on this project which is both important and inspiring. We faced the hurdle of creating this Chapter during the pandemic, but inevitably that also gave us more time to refine our episodes, and for George to become even more laser focused in his writing.

“To work with the BBC Concert Orchestra was a complete dream, and I’m grateful to BBC Sounds for making it happen – by committing to these recordings at Abbey Road they are once again demonstrating the importance of long-form storytelling and podcasting.”

Dylan Haskins, Commissioning Executive at BBC Sounds says: “Have You Heard George’s Podcast? is a world-class podcast with the power to tell stories that move, resonate, educate and entertain across borders. For Chapter 3, many parts of the BBC have collaborated to help realise George and Benbrick’s creative ambition for the podcast, teaming them up with the BBC Concert Orchestra to record the score to the entire series, and providing a platform for as wide an audience as possible with the podcast on BBC Sounds, Radio 1Xtra and Radio 4. As ever, we’re incredibly proud of this title and as audio lovers and creatives, we’re once again inspired by it.”

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