Andrew Roachford has said he was constantly reminded as a young performer that the fact his band was made up of black musicians was a “big issue”.
The 55-year-old star, who was the driving force behind the band Roachford, said they were often asked about their backgrounds in interviews.
He also suggested the colour of fellow 80s group Duran Duran’s skin had not been a “talking point”.
Roachford told the PA news agency: “When I started out in the music business you were very much aware that you were a minority and part of a minority, partly because I am – it is a reality.
“But I was constantly reminded that, ‘OK your band is all black’ and it was a talking point.
“So I thought: ‘OK so every time I do an interview the fact that my band comprises of just black people is a big issue’.
“But no one was going to talk to Duran Duran and say, ‘They are all white’.
“You don’t even notice that. It was just a band.
“I think we have started to move forward from that.
“We definitely have made progress and there definitely are a lot more black artists from the younger generation that are out there now, who are artists in their own right and they are not just seen as an artist of a colour. They are artists.
“It’s going the right way but it’s obviously a long way to go.
“My parents’ generation weren’t even born here so it is still new, relatively speaking, and I think people shouldn’t be afraid to bring up the subject and push as much as possible to make it as equal as it can be.”
Roachford, who has released his first solo album in seven years, said he had been affected by the Black Lives Matter protests and suggested lockdown had forced people to pay attention.
He said: “When you see the footage of a black guy getting killed by the police in such a horrible way, even if he was white, gay, Jewish, Chinese, I would have been shocked and I would have been hurt and I would have been angry – all those things.
“It just added to it that the guy looks like me and I know that it is symbolic of how society has lost touch with valuing human equality.
“In the long run it has been a good thing.
“In lockdown people haven’t really been able to avoid it and distract (themselves), they have had to face it.
“It is something that for us as a race – and I am talking about humans – to move forward, we have to first deal with the ugly truths and that’s one of them.
“So I do think it is necessary and a good thing.”
Roachford’s latest album comes after he was made an MBE for services to music this year.
Twice In A Lifetime is out now.