Music has always had a sweet home in Chicago. It’s where Louis Armstrong cut his first big records in the 1920s. It’s where Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf made the blues electric, building the foundation of rock & roll. And it’s where genres are invented; from gospel, house, and footwork to whatever comes next, Chicago’s influence can be felt around the world.
As Chicagoans face unprecedented challenges due to COVID-19, it’s important that we celebrate what bonds our city and brings our communities together during this “Year of Chicago Music.” 2020 also marks the 35th year that the nonprofit Arts & Business Council of Chicago (A&BC) has been supporting arts, cultural and creative enterprises to help ensure that the beat goes on.
Now more than ever, as the world faces the coronavirus pandemic, A&BC aims to help shore up local artists so that Chicago will continue to be the vibrant, creative city it’s known to be the world over. Though a number of live music events in Chicago have been canceled due to the pandemic, the “Year of Chicago Music” plays on, and in fact will extend into 2021.
To celebrate Chicago’s music history and support the city’s creative communities, A&BC invites the public to participate in the #ChiMusic35 campaign at ChiMusic35.com. The campaign includes:
A public challenge to define the 35 greatest moments in Chicago music history
A raffle to raise funds for A&BC to help Chicago’s creatives rebuild and recover from the COVID-19 crisis.
#ChiMusic35 Challenge: Favorite Chicago music moments may be submitted and voted on at ChiMusic35.com. All participants will be eligible to win an evening with Chicago Blues Legend Buddy Guy. The Challenge runs from Monday, May 18 through Friday, June 19, 2020. DJs, performers, producers, and journalists from across the Chicagoland music landscape who are participating in the Challenge include Add 2, DJ All The Way Kay, Martin Atkins, Pugs Atomz, Mark Bazer, Lori Branch, Jimmy Chamberlin, Ayana Contreras, Leor Gail, Commissioner Mark Kelly, DJ Lady D, Damon Locks, Pat Grumley, Rob Mckay, Duane Powell, DJ RTC, Tim Samuelson, and Sadie Woods.
Here are a few of their favorite Chicago music moments that could make the final list of 35 Greatest Moments in Chicago Music History. You can find more on ChiMusic35.com.
1927: Louis Armstrong makes a defining recording of 1920s Chicago-style jazz with Potato Head Blues
1939: Mavis Staples, one of Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Singers of All-Time is born in Chicago
1958: Chuck Berry records Johnny B. Goode at Chess Records studio, 2120 S. Michigan Avenue
1977: Frankie Knuckles begins DJing at The Warehouse, known as the birthplace of house music
ChiMusic35 Raffle: Participants in the Challenge and the general public will be encouraged to enter a raffle to win prizes and/or make a 100% tax-deductible donation to A&BC to help fund the “77 Communities Initiative” in support of arts, cultural, and creative enterprises from across Chicago that are struggling to survive the impact of COVID-19, particularly those in areas that have historically suffered underinvestment. Artists living in these neighborhoods are among the most challenged as the economy comes under immense pressure. A&BC’s nonprofit mission is to support Chicago’s creative businesses by providing them with the essential support and knowledge they need to thrive. The fundraising campaign will run from Monday, May 18 through Friday, July 3.
The Raffle has something for everyone with a range of prizes at different price points, including: a Peloton bike with a six-month membership for $235 per ticket; a weekend retreat in Michigan's Harbor Country and culinary packages, each for $135 per ticket, and a variety of other prizes, each at $35 per ticket.
The top 35 greatest moments in Chicago music history from #ChiMusic35 Challenge will be announced on July 24 on ChiMusic35.com and in a two-page spread in The Chicago Reader, the official media sponsor of A&BC’s #ChiMusic35 campaign.
“Our 35th anniversary campaign is about uniting Chicagoans to support our city’s artists as they struggle to survive the ravages of COVID-19 and spotlighting all they’ve given us as we celebrate the ‘Year of Chicago Music.’ #ChiMusic35 challenges all of us to honor our city’s richly diverse musical traditions and to give back to our artists during this critical time. This campaign gives us a path to a common goal: to keep Chicago’s art scene booming for the next 35 years,” says Kristin Larsen, executive director, Arts & Business Council of Chicago. “Music gives Chicago a global voice that emanates from each of Chicago’s 77 neighborhoods. As we face a new era of challenge and uncertainty, supporting and growing our music ecosystem is key to keeping our city together and keeping Chicagoans in tune with each other. When arts thrive in our neighborhoods, the city sings. And when Chicago sings, the world listens.”
Noting the critical role A&BC has played in cultivating Chicago’s creative entrepreneurs for over three decades, Mark Kelly, commissioner of the City of Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE), said, “We’re honored that the Arts & Business Council has launched its #ChiMusic35 campaign in support of the ‘Year of Chicago Music’ to shine a spotlight on Chicago’s global music legacy. We applaud their efforts to raise funds to support creative enterprises, to help them rebuild and recover during these challenging times and ensure they can shape the next 35 years of Chicago culture.”
About the Arts & Business Council of Chicago
For 35 years, A&BC has championed the creative entrepreneurs of Chicago. To date, A&BC has trained and placed hundreds of skilled business volunteers on management consulting projects, providing over 100,000 hours of pro bono consulting to over 600 unique arts businesses. That’s $14 million worth of business consulting, including strategic planning, financial management, marketing, human resources, and board development. A&BC is now shifting more of its focus to underinvested neighborhoods as part of the “77 Communities Initiative” it launched last year, expanding its Business Volunteers for the Arts® program to “On Demand”-- one-on-one consulting to take place by phone or video conferencing, for creatives and their organizations, offering immediate and actionable advice, concrete recommendations, and essential business knowledge.
About the “Year of Chicago Music”
Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events have designated 2020 as the “Year of Chicago Music.” This citywide, yearlong focus on music is one of the first of its kind in the U.S. The initiative includes a marketing campaign; additional financial grants for musicians and music projects; dialog around inclusion and equity; and a call to civic, philanthropic, arts and business leaders to support the music industry. Start exploring music in the key of Chicago at YearOfChicagoMusic.org and join the conversation on social media using #YearOfChicagoMusic.