Year of Chicago Music

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COVID-19 Update

The health and safety of our visitors, event attendees and staff members remain our highest priority. As such, the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events is closely monitoring developments around the Coronavirus Disease 19 (COVID-19) and sharing safeguards and best practices as outlined by federal health authorities and state and local officials. Due to the recent cancellation of several music festivals and the closure of local music venues, Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and DCASE will extend the 2020 Year of Chicago Music into 2021. The Year of Chicago Music will continue to amplify the excitement and momentum building across the local industry.

Please refer to the Chicago Department of Public Heath’s website, for the latest local updates on the response to COVID-19.


 Year of Chicago Music (performer playing the guitar)
(click on image to enlarge)

Chicago is the city that knows how to strike a chord. It’s the city that overflows with rhythm and warmth, even during the coldest winters. It’s a city that knows how to find its harmony in the hustle. It’s a city where everyone knows how to move to their own beat, yet everyone comes together to play in the same key – The Key of Chicago.

What does the Key of Chicago sound like? It sounds like performers belting their hearts out. It sounds like riffs filling bars, like beats interacting with the music of our 77 neighborhoods – sounding big, bold, and proud. It sounds like home. It sounds like Chicago.

Wherever you encounter it – whether it’s at a club, in a concert hall, or on the street – Music in the Key of Chicago speaks to your soul. It speaks to the breadth of knowledge, of rhythm, and history. Chicago continues to transform and elevate their sound into a new era of Chicago Music. You’ll always feel it, because our notes always ring true in the Key of Chicago.

In support of Chicago’s thriving music industry, Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events have designated 2020 and 2021 as the “Year of Chicago Music” with an investment of $3.5 million to highlight its legacy, expanding its audience and strengthen its creative and cultural landscape with a focus on the south and west sides of the City. The initiative has garnered significant funding of $1.4 million from outside partners including an unprecedented donation of $500,000 from lead donor the Walder Foundation, along with the Chicago Community Trust, the Illinois Arts Council, the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, Allstate and the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, as well as sponsorship from the Chicago Transit Authority.


Initiative Highlights:

  • Major sector-building grants of $1.7 million to the local music industry via the Chicago Cultural Grants, including new Esteemed Artist Awards;
  • Over $600,000 in direct support of INVEST South/West initiatives – including music legacy public art initiatives, the Neighborhood Access Program, pop-up performances in vacant and underutilized spaces and permanent venue space development programs;
  • Professional support for musicians – including career development opportunities and a Chicago Musicians Roster;
  • Youth programs – including a music-themed Teen Arts Leadership Summit, YAS! (Youth Arts Showcase) community performances featuring young and emerging musicians, and youth partnerships with the Chicago Park District, Chicago Public Library, Chicago Public Schools and other agencies;
  • DCASE will also feature Chicago artists and music at the 40th Annual Taste of Chicago, the Millennium Park Summer Music Series co-programed for the first time with record labels, venues and media companies, the Millennium Park Film Series featuring various music nonprofits, the ten-day Chicago Jazz Festival and the 17-day World Music Festival Chicago;
  • Public and partner programming including free and ticketed performances across the city in our historic venues and clubs, festivals and special events placing a spotlight on Chicago music, Year of Chicago Music Night Out in the Parks programs, Art on theMART Year of Chicago Music commissions and much more.
  • Chicago In Tune – an 18-day, citywide celebration of music including the Chicago House Music Festival, the Chicago Gospel Music Festival, the Chicago Blues Festival and free and ticketed performances at venues in 2021.

Ways to Participate:

Year of Chicago Music Virtual Concerts

Recognizing that the music industry has moved to #DoStuffAtHome, DCASE is partnering with D0312 to continue to celebrate the 2020 Year of Chicago Music. A new listing of virtual events and concerts has just launched at to highlight the local music venues and musicians sharing "Music in the Key of Chicago." If you are hosting a virtual concert or music-related event, please share the link to event details and artwork with


Tag Your “Music In the Key of Chicago”

Download the Year of Chicago Music marketing toolkit. Whether you’re an artist, a music venue or an arts organization, tag and share your events as part of “Music In the Key of Chicago.” Download the toolkit.