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18-day ‘Chicago in Tune’ celebration among highlights of Year of Chicago Music

Yearlong celebration shines a spotlight on the city’s rich musical heritage.

Shemekia-Copeland is among the headliners for the 2020 Chicago Blues Festival.
Shemekia-Copeland is among the headliners for the 2020 Chicago Blues Festival.
© Marilyn Stringer

Get ready, Chicago — there’s a whole lotta music headed your way this year.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events on Monday will announce highlights for the Year of Chicago Music (YOCM), a citywide celebration of Chicago’s rich musical heritage.

The core of YOCM will be “Chicago in Tune,” an 18-day, multi-venue celebration May 21 through June 7, anchored by the Chicago House Music Festival (May 21-23), the Chicago Gospel Music Festival (May 26-30), and the Chicago Blues Festival (June 5-7, featuring Shemekia Copeland, Jimmy Johnson, Billy Branch, John Primer, Candi Stanton, Li’l Ed and the Blues Imperials and more).

In between the festivals are a series of free and ticketed music events/concerts across the city with participation by the Chicago Sinfonietta, the Grant Park Music Festival, the Old Town School of Folk Music, Subterranean, Beat Kitchen, The Hideout and The Promontory, among many other artists, events and venues. “Chicago in Tune” will kick off at 11 a.m. May 21 with a free “Chicago Children’s Choir’s Paint the Town Red” concert on the Pritzker Pavilion stage.

At the fifth annual Chicago House Music Conference & Festival (May 21-23), industry leaders will gather and live performances will include a concert at the Pritzker Pavilion on May 23. The complete conference/festival schedule will be announced this spring.

In addition to “Chicago in Tune,” YOCM will also include the 40th annual Taste of Chicago (July 8-12), the Millennium Park Summer Music Series (dates TBA), the Millennium Park Film Series (June through August), the Chicago Jazz Festival (Aug. 28-Sept. 6) and the World Music Festival Chicago (Sept. 11-27).

Co-chairing the yearlong event with Mark Kelly, DCASE commissioner, are Grammy/Academy Award-winning rapper Che “Rhymefest” Smith, jazz vocalist Margaret Murphy-Webb (founder and executive director of the South Side Jazz Coalition), Grammy-nominated musician Juan Díes (Sones de Mexico Ensemble) and Juan Teague (CEO of Juan and Only Events).

In announcing the Year of Chicago music back in October, Kelly said: “During the Year of Chicago Music, DCASE and our partners are committed to showcasing the incredible musicians that call Chicago home. With this initiative we hope to build a citywide culture that sustains our artists and inspires our youth. Building on the city’s rich music legacy, our artists hone their craft and push genre boundaries to create a cultural destination for music lovers around the world.”

For more information on the Year of Chicago Music and all the festivals/programming, visit