Daughter of Glastonbury Festival’s founder and the event’s co-organiser Emily Eavis has reflected on Stormzy’s 2019 headline performance, saying it was “a little bit late maybe”.
he grime artist and rapper performed a headline set in 2019, becoming the first black solo British headliner in the festival’s history.
Speaking in a new BBC Two documentary, celebrating 50 years of the festival at Worthy Farm in Somerset, Eavis, 42, said: “He was representing the black community in a very predominately white festival and obviously that’s a really important moment for us, but it’s also a little bit late maybe.
“We should have probably done it before.”
During the performance, Stormzy, 28, thanked a number of black rappers and MCs (masters of ceremonies) that had inspired him during his career.
Reflecting on the powerful moment, Eavis said: “For me, a really incredible moment was when he stood in the audience and recited all the names of the other MCs in Britain.
“At that point, this felt like it was kind of opening doors to the future, this felt like, when he did that, it opened up the doors to kids watching at home, or people who would think actually that wasn’t a festival for me, but it might be now.”
Speaking about his performance in the documentary, Stormzy said: “There was a lot of pressure and there was a lot riding on it… (it’s) gonna be a lot of people’s first time watching an hour and a half of a young black man with something to say.”
The documentary’s director and producer, Francis Whately, spoke about Eavis’s influence on the festival, which her father Michael founded in 1970, saying she has “brought it into the 21st century”.
“I think Emily has got a really tough job, doesn’t she, because she’s got a dad who’s called Eavis, who’s a strong, strong, strong character, so Emily’s got a tough act to follow, but she does it incredibly well,” he said.
He added: “She’s so modest that, like her father, she just gets on with it and you don’t really know what she’s doing but she’s doing everything from behind the scenes.
“She’s such a gentle sole, as is Nick (Dewy), that they sort of underpin what the festival has become.”
Eavis is responsible for booking a number of influential performers at the festival over the last two decades, including Jay Z and Billie Eilish.
Of Eavis becoming a co-organiser of the festival and following in her father’s footsteps, Whately said: “She did take on this big man’s job. And she did it incredibly well. And the Jay Z decision was very brave and it came off and then Kanye and Stormzy.”
The director, who is also responsible for the acclaimed David Bowie Five Years documentary trilogy, spoke about the changes in society that Glastonbury has reflected in recent years.
“I think it’s always reflected it, and I think what comes across recently is that they have sort of caught up with the times.
“So, whether that’s with Stormzy or a 50/50 gender split… They’ve always tried to reflect what’s going on in society and in the music industry.
“And I think they’ve done that to a greater or lesser extent, and sometimes they succeed and sometimes they’re slightly behind, and often they’re slightly ahead, so I think it’s a very good barometer of what’s happening in the bigger music scene.”
Eavis said: “All the time it changes and evolves, and it is never the same.
“And so, people are right when they say ‘It’s changed, it’s not what it used to be’. Because it never is what it used to be.”
– Glastonbury: 50 Years And Counting airs on BBC Two and BBC iPlayer on June 19 at 9pm, ahead of the BBC’s Glastonbury coverage.