Skunk Anansie rocker Skin recalls historic Glastonbury headline slot

Skunk Anansie frontwoman Skin has recalled her pioneering headline slot at Glastonbury in 1999, describing it as “one of the best moments of my life”.

The trailblazing rocker was the first black British headliner of the festival, something that was not achieved again until Stormzy in 2019.

Speaking on Edith Bowman’s Play Next podcast, Skin said the backlash against her headlining was “double” what Jay-Z faced when he took top billing in 2008.

Skin from Skunk Anansie
Skin from Skunk Anansie

“So we really did walk on that stage feeling like we had something to prove,” Skin said.

“But those Glastonbury audiences, they went off, and it was like I was the match and there was a field full of gunpowder. It was one of the best moments of my life.

“It didn’t even occur to me that I was the first British black woman to headline Glastonbury, it wasn’t kind of cool to talk about it in those days, it wasn’t something that people wanted to hear.

“Now it’s wonderful because obviously we can say that. I think that things are changing, they’re changing slowly but we’re moving on. Different times.”

Brixton-born Skin, whose real name is Deborah Anne Dyer, said she has faced double standards in the music industry because of her skin colour.

Rock music is seen as “white,” she said, adding the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement has made it possible for her to speak about the issue publicly.

She said: “I guess if Black Lives Matter hadn’t happened, maybe I’d still be keeping that to myself, because whenever I’ve said that people have been like ‘yeah, but no that’s not the issue…’ – actually it is.”

Skin joins Edith Bowman for episode five of Play Next, in association with BMW, which is available to stream from Wednesday.