Year of Chicago Music

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 Year of Chicago Music (performer playing the guitar)
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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 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:

  • “Chicago In Tune - an 18-day, citywide celebration of music from May 21 to June 7, 2020, including the Chicago House Music Festival, the Chicago Gospel Music Festival, the Chicago Blues Festival and free and ticketed performances at venues;
  • Major sector-building grants of $1.7 million to the local music industry via the Chicago Cultural Grants;
  • 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;
  • In addition to Chicago In Tune, 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.

Ways to Participate:

Chicago In Tune

May 21June 7

A signature part of the Year of Chicago Music, “Chicago In Tune” will bring music organizations and venues across the city together to celebrate music of all genres and forms from May 21 to June 7. The event is anchored by three free-admission city music festivals – the Chicago House Music Festival, the Chicago Gospel Music Festival and the Chicago Blues Festival – that spotlight three genres of music born and innovated in Chicago. The 18 days of music will stretch to every corner of the city with free and ticketed events.

Participants include: Blues Heaven Foundation, Chicago Blues Revival, Chicago Sinfonietta, Delmark Records, Dorian's, EPIPHANY Center for the Arts, Grant Park Music Festival, Irish American Heritage Center, Little Kids Rock, Logan Center for the Arts, Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Old Town School of Folk Music the People's Music School, Rebuild Foundation and the Stony Island Arts Band, Refuge Live, The Auditorium Theatre, The Promontory and Uncommon Ground. If you’re part of a music organization or venue, please join the cross-city celebration and share your event or program with us. A submission form will be posted here soon. All participating events will be listed at

2020 Chicago Jazz Festival Citywide Funding Program

Application Deadline Extended: Friday, April 3

As part of the 42nd Annual Chicago Jazz Festival and the 2020 Year of Chicago Music, local venues and Jazz-presenting organizations are invited to apply for support from DCASE to offer free, public programs within the City of Chicago during the festival dates between August 28 and September 2, 2020. Applicants may request up to $3,000 to be applied toward artists' fees and up to $500 of production-related expenses. All selected events/venues will also be marketed as an official part of the Chicago Jazz Festival, listed on the festival's website, brochure and on-site program. For guidelines and application, visit


Share 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.


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