Mitchell Library

Steven Vass- Let The Music Play: How R&B Fell In Love With 80s Synths

Steven Vass- Let The Music Play: How R&B Fell In Love With 80s Synths
Dates and times
25th Jul 2024
6:30PM - 7:30PM
Adult, Over 14s only. Under 16s must be accompanied by an adult.

Inspired by the British Library’s new Beyond the Bassline exhibition, the Mitchell Library will host a free panel display to help tell a national story about Black music in Britain through the Living Knowledge Network. 

The panel display at the Mitchell Library documents 500 years of Black music in Britain and explores the people, places and genres that have formed a British soundtrack. It highlights music as a form of entertainment and vehicle for community, as well as a source of liberation, protest and education, and spotlights clubs, carnivals and community hubs from across the country that have cultivated creative expression and inspired a number of Black British music genres.

Augmented by Mitchell Library’s own collection, regional connections and Glasgow’s local music scene, the Beyond the Bassline display and events programme helps to tell a national story about Black music in Britain.

As part of this events programme, we are delighted to welcome local journalist Steven Vass to discuss his first book Let the Music Play which provides a detailed look at how artists and producers used synths and other new music tech to reinvent R&B in the 1980s. In this fascinating book Steven tells the overlooked story of how R&B, disco and funk were transformed by the explosion of synths and other music tech in the era of ghetto blasters, shoulder pads and Ronald Reagan. He traces how pioneers like Stevie Wonder and Herbie Hancock inspired a new generation of black musicians and producers in the US and UK to reinvent music using a whole new set of rules - creating a blueprint for music today.

“When anybody talks about 80s synth, they’re usually talking about British invaders like The Human League and Soft Cell, the beginnings of Detroit techno/Chicago house, or early hip-hop. Now, these are all fantastic, but so much has been written about them already! We tend to ignore that generation of mainly black stars in America and the UK who used synths, drum machines and sequencers to bombard the charts with a new futuristic R&B”, Steven Vass

Steven will be in discussion with Susan Taylor, Special Collections Librarian at the Mitchell Library, following which there will be an opportunity for audience questions.


Dispatch Charges

E-tickets - Free of charge
Fulfilment Fee - £1.95

Transaction Charges apply as follows

Online up to £1.50
Phone up to £1.75
Counter/ In Person: Free

Tickets Booking Line:
0141 353 8000.
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Read the accessibility guide for The Mitchell Library on AccessAble

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We also have a supply of books in Braille, large print and audio.

Accessible toilets

This accessible toilet is approximately 26m (28yd 1ft) from the main entrance. This accessible toilet is located to the rear right as you enter.

Assistance dogs

Guide and assistance dogs are welcome and a bowl of water can be provided. 

Hearing loop

There is a fixed loop hearing assistance system.

This venue does not play background music.

Wheelchair access

There is a wheelchair to borrow. To borrow the wheelchair, please contact a member of staff.

Motorised scooters are allowed in public parts of the venue.

Baby changing

Baby feeding

Cafe or restaurant

The Café is open Monday to Saturday 9am to 4.15pm.

Click here to see the Café menu 


Please note that there is on-street surrounding The Mitchell Library, from 8am-6pm Monday to Friday this is metered. As this is also a local residential area, please use these spaces considerately. Alternatively, there is an a NCP Car Park on India Street next to Charing Cross Train Station which is a 2 minute walk away. 

Photography and video recording

On occasion, Glasgow Life will be on the premises to film and take photos. 

Study spaces

Study spaces can be booked by calling 0141 287 7655. Click here for further information.

Free wifi

We provide free WIFI access and further access to over 50 PCs for public use

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