City designates 2020 as the ‘Year of Chicago Music’
One of the most anticipated events planned is a new, 17-day festival linking the annual House Music Festival, Chicago Gospel Music Festival and the Chicago Blues Festival into a massive multi-weekend, consecutive-weeks celebration.
As the curtain comes down on the “Year of Chicago Theater,” there’s a whole lot of joyful noise on the horizon ready to take its place.
The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) announced Thursday that 2020 has been officially designated the “Year of Chicago Music,” celebrating the city’s rich music heritage and its impact on all music genres.
“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,” said Mark Kelly, DCASE commissioner. “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.”
Co-chairing the yearlong event with Kelly are Grammy and 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).
“We’ve been able to do some pretty impactful work, first through the ‘Year of Public Art,’ then the ‘Year of Creative Youth,’ and this year’s ‘Year of Chicago Theater,’” said Kelly. “We’ve elevated the sector in huge ways. We’ve learned how to navigate a year, make sure a year is impactful. And now we’ve assembled 200 music industry professionals across genres, across clubs and venues and non-profits and more, all working together to make sure the year is what I believe will be a transformative moment for how we love music in the city, how artists succeed in the city and how we’re seen as great world music capital.”
The year’s events will shine a light on Chicago’s rich music history and the current state of the industry here, as well as a look at what’s to come as a result of that legacy. Everything from house, rap, hip-hop, blues, jazz, rock, gospel and more will be celebrated.
“We’re going to look at the past to remind us of the great music incubator Chicago has been. That takes us into the future to make sure we become even stronger,” Kelly said. “One of the great strengths of Chicago is we are not a one-genre town, we’re every music genre you can imagine and in every one of them the scene in Chicago is incredibly strong.”
Some of the highlights outlined for the yearlong celebration include:
- Sector-building grants to the local music industry via the Chicago Cultural Grants Program – including support for live music on the South and West Sides, increased general operating support for arts nonprofits and new merit-based awards for musicians ($200,000 in DCASE funding has already been earmarked for the grants)
- A special focus on Chicago music at the 40th annual Taste of Chicago, and the Millennium Park Summer Music Series co-programmed for the first time with record labels, venues and media companies;
- Support for neighborhoods and venues – including programs presented in conjunction with the City’s major music festivals; pop-up performances in vacant, underutilized and nontraditional spaces on the South and West Sides, and permanent venue space development programs.
One of the most anticipated events planned for 2020 is a new, 17-day music festival linking the annual House Music Festival, Chicago Gospel Music Festival and the Chicago Blues Festival into a massive multi-weekend, consecutive-weeks celebration.
“We’re taking that 17-day period and creating a new citywide festival [called the June Festival for now] that will be celebrating the three great [music] legacies that were created in Chicago. I’m not concerned about more people being in Millennium Park (where each festival will celebrate its usual, individual weekend of performances); I’m concerned about more people loving these musical forms in the living city in its clubs and neighborhood venues,” Kelly said. “Our hope is five years from now this is equal to something like the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, a very unique event very different from any other [music] festival in the city through a mix of free and ticketed events.”