Dotty Is Leading a Black Music & Radio Revolution

The radio host, author, and Lead Cultural Curator, Black Music UK at Apple Music speaks to Culture Editor Emily Phillips about her new role, her curation process and shares an exclusive playlist of emerging Black talent.

WORDS Emily Phillips

Dotty, one of UK radio’s most prominent, proudly Black presenters, is redefining radio. The former BBC Radio 1Xtra Breakfast Show presenter joined Apple Music back in 2020, signing onto ‘The Agenda Radio’ show and as Lead Cultural Curator, Black Music, UK and Apple Music 1 host – already nailing interviews with acclaimed artists like Tems, Abra Cadabra, Bugzy Malone, Shaybo and more. In addition, Apple launched ‘The Dotty Show’, the presenter‘s first namesake display. “I love it! It’s like Oprah, isn’t it?” she laughs as we chat over Zoom. “It’s an honour to be at the forefront of it. It’s like being handed the AUX on a global scale.” But Dotty is clear that the demanding process of music curation is far from a one-woman job. “I have to give huge credit to my team who do a lot of work with me in creating these powerful moments, every single day.”

It’s an honour to be at the forefront of [Apple Music Radio]. It’s like being handed the AUX on a global scale.

Dotty

Through the screen, Dotty radiated self-assuredness, a demeanor that endured as we got chatting. As she sits in her studio from the other side of the mic, she tells me, “I’ve always been a bit of a chatterbox. I think I was destined to end up in a job where I get paid to speak and have my words wrap around amazing music.”

Airing Monday to Thursday from 3pm BST, ‘The Dotty Show’ is a two-hour daily special celebrating the best of Black music. “It’s wall-to-wall Black music for two hours a day,” Dotty says. Spotlighting Black artists and innovative music scenes internationally, the show is making room in music for Black musicians. She tells me that what she loves about Black music is how, “there’s a magic that comes out of our self expression.” She adds, “I also love that there is an abundance of genres within Black music and it’s not bound by any expectation.”

‘The Agenda Radio’ is a one-hour production airing Fridays at 2pm BST. Similar to her namesake show, it features the very best in Black music from the UK to the far corners of the globe. However, according to Dotty, “It’s very much a showcase of ‘The Agenda’ playlist” – Apple Music’s top Hip-Hop playlist. “For a lot of people, it’s a gateway into adding ‘The Agenda’ playlist to their library. It offers people a sort-of human algorithm which I think is so necessary when we’re inundated with choice. Sometimes we need people to spoon-feed us what we’ll like.”

For a lot of people it’s a gateway into adding ‘The Agenda’ playlist to their library. It offers people a sort-of human algorithm which I think is so necessary when we’re inundated with choice. Sometimes we need people to spoon feed us what we’ll like.

Dotty

The multifaceted presenter, who also goes by the moniker Amplify Dot, is no stranger to playlist radio, but her new vocation is all original, uncovered and carefully considered work. “Here we are creating two hours of radio every single day that sounds completely different to the way it did the day before. That to me is powerful radio.”

To make sense of this, Dotty unpacks her curation process for the ‘Worldwide Wednesday’ episodes of ‘The Dotty Show’. She discusses how the two shows also act as a testament to how much she and her team simply listen. “Curation is about listening: It’s a lot of listening to music, listening to recommendations, listening to other tastemakers and keeping an eye on camps,” she explains. “It’s not about… what’s moving, it’s about what sounds great.”

Making use of the vast resources at Apple for international music, Dotty talks us through some of the playlists that she finds the most influential. ”We’ve got ‘LE CODE, which is the very best in French music. Then ‘Ny Svensk Rap’, which means New Swedish Rap – there are artists on there like Asme who has a song called ‘Shoot’. I could have never single-handedly found that needle in a haystack. There’s ‘Alté Cruise’ and other incredible playlists that highlight genre-defying African music. ‘Africa Now’ is the biggest Afrobeats banger out of the continent and ‘Run Tings is an incredible playlist if you love Jamaican music, dancehall, and bashment.” 

Here we are creating two hours of radio every single day that sounds completely different to the way it did the day before. That, to me, is powerful radio.

Dotty

“It’s also having those people that plug you in to great music. You can’t be the plug unless you know the plug,” she says, referencing an occasion last year where #Merky from Stormzy recommended a Ghanian drill track called ‘Sore’ by Yaw Tog. “I played it and got so much feedback. People didn’t even understand the language and they loved it.” Then when 2021 rolled around, Stormzy jumped on the remix and ‘Sore’ became a huge hit across the UK. Dotty also mentions the African Apple music team who’ve recently introduced her to the Amapiano sound and in particular the song ‘Ke Star’ by Focalistic and Davido. “If I didn’t have that relationship with them, I’d miss music,” Dotty says. “It’s impossible to uncover every single gem on a global scale [all by yourself].” 

Since her days ‘Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It’ at eight years old and made obvious by her vivid memories of her mother blasting reggae during chores, Dotty has always been completely immersed in the world of Black music. “Peaches & Herb, Stevie Wonder, Luther Vandross, Al Green, Beres Hammond, Luciano, Capleton – that’s what I grew up hearing,” she says. “What my parents listened to planted the seed, but then as I was growing up in the 90s I became a proper rap kid.”

Dotty’s visceral insight is fierce as she curates contemporary tunes and even throwback tracks into perfect playlists, putting forth a vivid world of sound we love to get lost in. 

Exclusively for BRICKS, Dotty has curated a Black music playlist featuring 25 of her favourite tracks right now. It features current-favourite, Tems, alongside Tiwa Savage, Frenna, Burna Boy and many more.

‘The Dotty Show’ airs Monday-Thursday 3-5pm and ‘The Agenda Radio’ airs every Friday at 2-3pm on Apple Music 1. Tune in live for free or on-demand with an Apple Music subscription at apple.co/_Dotty.

<strong>Emily Phillips</strong>
Emily Phillips

Emily Phillips is a BIPoC Canadian writer presently based in North London. She is a current BA: Fashion Journalism student at University of the Arts London: London College of Fashion. Emily has an insightful, creative, and seductive voice that shines through in her writing. Her work has been published in 10 Magazine and Coeval Magazine, as well as the 2021 book Networked Futures: Online Exhibitions and Digital Hierarchies from the digital art gallery platform isthisit?

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