Birmingham’s musical heritage is second to none. From the folk, jazz, blues and soul of the 1950s, right through to garage, indie and techno in the 21st century – plus with everything from Brumbeat and psychedelia to ska, reggae and punk in between – the city has done more for the invention of musical genres than possibly any other in the history of Western music.
Generally considered as the birthplace of both bhangra in the ‘60s and heavy metal in the ‘70s, the city also lay at the heart of the development of British soul and grindcore in the ‘80s. Some of the world’s biggest musical names have hailed from Birmingham, including Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, UB40, The Moody Blues, Nick Drake, Steve Winwood, Electric Light Orchestra, Joan Armatrading, Judas Priest, Musical Youth, The Beat, Dexys Midnight Runners, Fine Young Cannibals, Napalm Death, Goldie, The Streets, Editors and Guillemots.
These days, the city has progressed a long way from its historically industrial past. There’s shopping aplenty at The Bullring, and no end of cool independent stores to discover as you walk the city’s streets, such as Provide for clothes, books, magazines and accessories, and Swordfish Records on Dalton Street. The city’s thriving cultural scene mainly centres around the happening areas of Digbeth – Birmingham’s creative quarter with the Custard Factory shopping centre, workspace and music and arts centre at its heart – and the Jewellery Quarter. This old industrial area, previously made up of 19th century workshops, factories and warehouses, has been updated to house cool and stylish restaurants, bars, pubs and cafés, such as live music venue The Jam House, whose musical director is none other than boogie woogie maestro, Jools Holland.
Birmingham has long had a history of vibrant nightlife – with international trance superclub brand Godskitchen establishing its first permanent UK home in the city – but nowadays it’s Broad Street which sees most of the clubbing action, with PRYZM as the area’s largest nightclub in a building that used to house the UK’s very first Gatecrasher.
If you’re thinking of studying in Birmingham, come and see the sights for yourself and have a tour of BIMM : book on to one of our Open Days.