A day before being honored as Best New Artist and Humanitarian at the 2017 BET Awards in Los Angeles, Chance the Rapper used an event here honoring him as an opportunity to honor the DuSable Museum of African American History.
At the museum’s “Night of 100 Stars” gala on Saturday, the Chicago native announced he’ll be donating his 2017 Grammy Award for best rap album — a historic first ever awarded a streaming-only album — to the South Side museum.
He made history when he earned seven Grammy nominations, after the Recording Academy relaxed eligibility rules allowing music released on streaming platforms, taking home “Best New Artist,” “Best Rap Performance” and “Best Rap Album,” for his album “Coloring Book.”
It is the latter he intends to donate to the 56-year-old museum.
The announcement surprised museum officials and brought the audience to its feet at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place event.
“Of course we didn’t know about it. We had no idea. I looked at DuSable President/CEO Perri Irmer, and she looked at me, and we all just stood up and applauded,” said DuSable board member Lisa Pilot Livingston.
It was last January when the rapper, born Chancelor Bennett, was named to the museum’s board of trustees, along with his father Ken Bennett, an executive with Choose Chicago.
The 24-year-old artist continues to achieve acclaim as an independent artist in the music industry and as a philanthropist. Earlier this year, he’d lobbied the governor for Chicago Public Schools funding, and personally pledged $2.2 million to cash-strapped schools.
“I’m so excited to not just work hand in hand with the African American History Museum, but we want to build it up. We want to make it a staple of African American history. And that’s why I’m proud to announce that I’ll be donating my Hip-Hop Album of the Year Award, the first one to a black independent artist, to the DuSable,” the artist said in a brief acceptance speech Saturday.
“I don’t need it! I don’t need it! That’s right! Stand up! Stand up!” he said as the crowd roared. “So y’all, I’m a Trail Blazer, I guess, according to this award. But so is everybody in this room, and I’m so glad to be working on this project with you guys. I can’t wait to see what Chicago and the DuSable Museum of African American History does. Thank you Mom and Dad. ”
He descended the stage, hugged his parents, and left.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to talk with him, because he had to be on the plane headed to Los Angeles,” Livingston said. “I’m sure we’ll learn more at the next board meeting, in July.”
Once in hand, though, she proffered, the historic Grammy is sure to be featured in a place of honor in the museum.