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The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) is pleased to announce summer events highlighting the city’s music legacy. As the birthplace of gospel, the urban blues, house and other treasured music, Chicago invites music lovers from around the world to celebrate the genres’ past, present and future. In 2019, we’re celebrating the city’s music legacy on stage in Millennium Park, at the Chicago Cultural Center as well as in music venues and clubs throughout the city. All ‘Chicago Music Legacy’ festivals are free admission.
“There is no other city like Chicago that offers a local music scene with neighborhood clubs and venues, as well as events and festivals happening year-round,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “Chicago is an arts powerhouse and because of our rich musical heritage, a global cultural destination for music lovers and home to musicians.”
Music fans in Chicago will not want to miss this year’s highlights: the Chicago Gospel Music Festival on Friday, March 31, and Saturday, June 1; the Chicago House Music Conference on Thursday, May 23, and the festival opener with the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic on Friday, May 24; the Chicago Blues Festival on June 7–9; and the Chicago Jazz Festival rounding out the summer on August 23–September 1 for 10 days of jazz throughout the city. Full lineups for each event will be announced in the coming months.
“The City of Chicago is committed to celebrating Chicago’s music legacy of house, gospel, blues and jazz,” said Mark Kelly, Commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE). “Each year we celebrate these genres as part of our African American music heritage at free music festivals and events, and this year we will expand with more performances in clubs and venues throughout the city.”
4th Annual Chicago House Music Conference and Festival
The Chicago House Music Conference and Festival will feature an industry gathering, DJs and live performances showcasing the various sounds and styles of house music, the genre born in Chicago that has gone on to revolutionize dance music internationally.
Catering to DJs, musicians and industry professionals the Chicago House Music Conference on Thursday, May 23, 6–9pm at the Chicago Cultural Center (78 E. Washington St.) will include panel discussions on topics related to the culture, artistry and business of house music.
On Friday, May 24, at 6:30pm at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park, Orbert Davis’s Chicago Jazz Philharmonic featuring Marshall Jefferson will present the Chicago House Symphony. Known for its genre-defying aesthetics, Chicago Jazz Philharmonic will celebrate the city’s place in musical history as the birthplace of jazz and house music. Also on Friday, the Chicago House Music Award will be presented to two well-known pioneers – Chip E, the producer and DJ influential in shaping the early recorded sound with original hits “It’s House” and “Time to Jack,” and Marshall Jefferson, the producer whose 1986 single “Move Your Body” introduced the Chicago house sound to clubs across the globe.
The festival will continue throughout the park with DJs and family activities on Saturday, May 25, from 2 to 9pm Later that evening, DCASE will host several after sets at various clubs throughout the city.
Headline performances at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion on May 25 will feature London band Reel People. Internationally renowned for their original soulful house compositions and collaborations, this will be their Chicago debut. Other artists include legendary DJ and producer Tony Humphries from New York City and Chicago mainstays Gene Hunt, Mark Grusane and First Lady.
For the entire family, Saturday activities will also include a new “House Kidz” activation, a House Dance Summit and DJ sets on stages throughout Millennium Park. The full schedule of performances will be announced later this spring. For complete details, visit ChicagoHouseMusicFestival.us, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat (@ChicagoDCASE #ChicagoHouseMusicFestival).
34th Chicago Gospel Music Festival
May 31–June 1
Celebrating the great influence of the music genre born in this city more than 80 years ago, the Chicago Gospel Music Festival will present the top gospel artists in the country. Over the years the festival has featured traditional choirs to contemporary urban gospel.
Featuring local and national artists celebrating the music style’s deep Chicago roots, the Gospel Music Festival will be held at the Chicago Cultural Center (78 E. Washington St.) from noon to 4pm and in Millennium Park from 5:30 to 9pm on Friday, May 31, and continue in Millennium Park (201 E. Randolph St.) on Saturday, June 1, from 11am to 9pm with music beginning at noon. The full schedule of performances will be announced this spring. For complete details, visit chicagogospelmusicfestival.us, join the conversation on Facebook at Chicago Gospel Music Festival or follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat @ChicagoDCASE (#ChiGospelMusic).
In anticipation of the upcoming Chicago Gospel Music Festival this spring, the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) is pleased to present the ChicagoMade Gospel Music A&R (Artists & Repertoire ) Auditions on Saturday, March 16, 6–9pm, at the Westpoint Missionary Baptist Church (3566 S. Cottage Grove). Emerging, Chicago-based gospel music artists will perform live for an audience including a panel of major and independent music label and entertainment industry executives. Applications for audition spots are open now through March 1 and can be found at chicagogospelmusicfestival.us.
36th Annual Chicago Blues Festival
With a diverse lineup celebrating the blues’ past, present and future, the Chicago Blues Festival features live music performances on multiple stages in Millennium Park. Each year national and local artists headline the event on the Jay Pritzker Pavilion to celebrate the city’s rich Blues tradition while shining a spotlight on the genre’s contributions to soul, R&B, gospel, rock hip-hop and more.
Bobby Rush will headline the festival on Friday, June 7, at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion. The GRAMMY® Award-winning artist was named by Rolling Stone "The King of the Chitlin' Circuit" for his vigorous touring schedule and energetic show. Before Bobby Rush takes the stage, the Jimmy Johnson Blues Band will mark Mr. Johnson’s 90th birthday. The evening will lead off with Charlie Musselwhite joined by special guest Billy Boy Arnold. The famed harp player has jammed on stage with all the greats. Shortly before winning the GRAMMY® Award for Best Blues Album for their collaboration Get Up!, he and Ben Harper played at the White House for President Obama and the First Lady in a salute to Memphis soul.
On Saturday, June 8, award winning and legendary soul artist Bettye LaVette will headline the Jay Pritzker Pavilion stage. One of the very few of her contemporaries who were recording during the birth of soul music in the 60s, LaVette is still creating vital recordings today. Opening the evening’s showcase are Don Bryant and Latimore. Don Bryant started his career as a gospel music artist at an early age and found soul at Hi Records in Memphis, TN. Most recently, he was invited to perform with the Memphis-based soul homage outfit, The Bo-Keys. R&B singer, songwriter, pianist and Blues Hall of Famer, Benjamin Lattimore or Latimore will kick off the stage.
On Sunday, June 9, Ruthie Foster will headline the closing night of the festival. The award-winning artist’s latest album Joy Comes Back, described as “some folk, some blues, some soul, some rock, some gospel,” illustrates Ruthie’s genre-spanning talent. Also on the bill, a special tribute set for the late Mike Ledbetter by The CONNECTION with Mike Welch and Friends. Mike Ledbetter had been invited to perform at this year’s festival with the Welch–Ledbetter Connection before his untimely death in January. Larkin Poe, the American roots sister duo poised to make their mark with the 2018 release of Venom & Faith, will open the stage on the final evening.
The Chicago Blues Festival is FREE and open from 11am to 9pm daily in Millennium Park. In addition to the Jay Pritzker Pavilion headliners featured nightly, music begins each day at 11am at the Budweiser Crossroads Stage, the Visit Mississippi Juke Joint, the Front Porch and the Park Grill Stage.
The full schedule of performances will be announced this spring. For complete details, visit chicagobluesfestival.us, join the conversation on Facebook at Chicago Blues Festival and follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat @ChicagoDCASE (#ChiBluesFest).
41st Annual Chicago Jazz Festival
August 23–September 1
The Chicago Jazz Festival showcases the greatest jazz artists from Chicago and around the world across the city over ten days from August 23 to September 1. The Chicago Jazz Festival is produced by the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and programmed by the Jazz Institute of Chicago.
The Chicago Jazz Festival will offer free performances in neighborhood clubs and venues from August 23 to 29, leading up to the concerts beginning Thursday, August 29, at Millennium Park (201 E. Randolph St.), Chicago Cultural Center (78 E. Washington St.) and other citywide locations through Sunday, September 1.
For the latest information on the Chicago Jazz Festival, visit chicagojazzfestival.us, like us on Facebook at Chicago Jazz Festival and follow us on Twitter, Instagram (@ChicagoDCASE, @ChiJazzFest) and Snapchat (ChicagoDCASE). For information on the Jazz Institute of Chicago, visit jazzinchicago.org.
Chicago Cultural Center Exhibition
Bronzeville Echoes: Faces and Places of Chicago’s African American Music
Residents and visitors are invited to explore Chicago’s music legacy through ragtime, jazz and blues in an exhibition that highlights the contributions of important places and people that shaped the music scene. Seldom-seen original artifacts will be on display including sheet-music, rare 1920s records with quirky period graphics–and even the original 1932 telephone booth from the old Sunset/Grand Terrace Café from which the actual music can be heard. Located in the building’s Garland Gallery, 1st Floor South, the exhibit is open through Sunday, July 28.
The Chicago Music Legacy festivals are presented by the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and sponsored in part by American Airlines, Budweiser, Chicago Jazz Magazine, Chicago Transit Authority, Chicago Tribune, CLTV-ChicagoLand’s Television, Downbeat Magazine, Gospel Radio 1390, Southwest Airlines, Stella Artois, Visit Mississippi, WGN-Television and 93XRT.
NOTE TO MEDIA: Media credential requests for any of the Chicago Music Legacy festivals must be submitted by email to DCASEPR@cityofchicago.org. All requests are a due one week prior to the festival start and acceptance notifications will be sent accordingly. Submission of a request does not guarantee admission. Credentials only provide working media access to media seating and photo pit; they do not include back stage access. Each media outlet is limited to one press and one photography credential as space is very limited. Visit the pressroom on the website for the festival you would like to cover for rules.
Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events
The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) is dedicated to enriching Chicago’s artistic vitality and cultural vibrancy. This includes fostering the development of Chicago’s non-profit arts sector, independent working artists and for-profit arts businesses; providing a framework to guide the City’s future cultural and economic growth, via the 2012 Chicago Cultural Plan; marketing the City’s cultural assets to a worldwide audience; and presenting high-quality, free and affordable cultural programs for residents and visitors. For more information, visit cityofchicago.org/dcase.