Music of Chicago
Chicago, Illinois is a major center for music in the midwestern United States where distinctive forms of blues (greatly responsible for the future creation of rock and roll), and house music, a genre of electronic dance music, were developed.
The "Great Migration" of poor black workers from the South into the industrial cities brought traditional jazz and blues music to Chicago, resulting in Chicago blues and "Chicago-style" Dixieland jazz. Notable blues artists included Muddy Waters, Junior Wells, Howlin' Wolf and both Sonny Boy Williamsons; jazz greats included Nat King Cole, Gene Ammons, Benny Goodman and Bud Freeman. Chicago is also well known for its soul music.
In the 1980s and 1990s, heavy rock, punk and Hip Hop also became popular in Chicago. Orchestras in Chicago include the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Chicago Sinfonietta.
Chicago's music scene has been well known for its blues music for many years. Chicago Blues uses a variety of instruments in a way which heavily influenced early rock and roll music, instruments like electrically amplified guitar, drums, piano, bass guitar and sometimes saxophone or harmonica which is generally used in Delta blues, which originated in Mississippi. Chicago Blues has a more extended palette of notes than the standard six-note blues scale; often, notes from the major scale and dominant 9th chords are added, which gives the music a more "jazz feel" whilst still being in the confines of the blues genre. Chicago blues is also known for its heavy rolling bass. The music developed mainly as a result of the "Great Migration" of poor black workers from the South into the industrial cities of the North such as Chicago in particular, in the first half of the 20th century.
Chicago is one of the places where the faster juicier Boogie Woogie emerged from the Blues. The most renowned early recordings of boogies were made in Chicago with Clarence Pinetop Smith who might have been influenced by the brothers Hersal Thomas and George W. Thomas from Houston who were together in Chicago in the 1920s.
Chicago blues and boogie music continues to be popular today with the annual Chicago Blues Festival, and with appreciation of the many musicians such as Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, and Willie Dixon; guitar players such as Tampa Red, Buddy Guy, Bo Diddley, Elmore James and Lefty Dizz; and "harp" (blues slang for harmonica) players such as Big Walter Horton, Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson I, Syl Johnson, Charlie Musselwhite, Junior Wells, and, most notably, James Cotton.
House music originated in a Chicago nightclub called The Warehouse. Chicago house is the earliest style of house music. While the origins of the name "house music" are unclear, the most popular belief is that the term "house music" can be traced to the name of that club. DJ Frankie Knuckles originally popularized house music while working at The Warehouse.
House music was developed in the houses, garages and clubs of Chicago initially for local club-goers in the "underground" club scenes, rather than for widespread commercial release. As a result, the recordings were much more conceptual, longer than the music usually played on commercial radio. House musicians used analog synthesizers and sequencers to create and arrange the electronic elements and samples on their tracks, combining live traditional instruments and percussion and soulful vocals with preprogrammed electronic synthesizers and "beat-boxes".
Important musicians in the Chicago house include Adonis, Mark Farina, Keith Farley, Felix da Housecat, Fingers, Inc., Ron Hardy, Larry Heard, Steve 'Silk' Hurley, Marshall Jefferson, Curtis Jones, Paul Johnson, Frankie Knuckles, Lil' Louis, Jesse Saunders, Joe Smooth and Ten City.
The Chicago style
The distinctive Chicago style of jazz originated in southern musicians moving North after 1917, bringing with them the New Orleans "Dixieland" or sometimes called hot jazz styles. First King Oliver and Jelly Roll Morton became stars of the Chicago jazz scene. Finally Louis Armstrong's recordings with his Chicago-based Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five and Hot Seven band came out in the years 1925 to 1928. These recordings marked the transition of original New Orleans Jazz to a more sophisticated type of American improvised music with more emphasis on solo choruses instead of just little solo breaks. This style of playing was adopted by white musicians who favored meters of 2 instead of 4. Emphasis on solos, faster tempos, string bass and guitar (replacing the traditional tuba and banjo) also distinguish Chicago-style playing from Dixieland.
Important musicians in the Chicago style include Lovie Austin, Muggsy Spanier, Jimmy McPartland, Bix Beiderbecke, Eddie Condon, Bud Freeman, Benny Goodman, Gene Krupa, Frank Teschemacher, and Frank Trumbauer. The gangsters of Chicago engaged profiled musicians like Earl Hines who's benefit was to lead an orchestra in one of the city's top locations. Earl Hines and Benny Goodman emancipated from Chicago style when they became two of the most famous band leaders of the swing era.
Modern Chicago jazz
In the 21st century, Chicago continues to have a vibrant and innovative jazz scene, such as the annual Chicago Jazz Festival. Famous Chicago Jazz Festival performers include Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins, Ornette Coleman, Benny Carter, Ella Fitzgerald, Anthony Braxton, Betty Carter, Lionel Hampton, Chico O'Farrill's big band, Jimmy Dawkins, Von Freeman, Johnny Frigo, Slide Hampton, Roy Haynes, and many others. Musicians from all surviving eras of jazz perform regularly in the city, release recordings, and tour nationally and internationally. Sinyan Shen, internationally known for his Shanghai classical repertoire and Shanghai jazz performances based on tonal interests and just intervals, is based in Chicago.
Members of Chicago's Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians working regularly in the city include Fred Anderson, Ernest Dawkins, Aaron Getsug, and Isaiah Spencer. Since the 1960s, members of the organization have performed their version of "Great Black Music" throughout the world.
Innovative jazz musicians who have come to public attention since the early 1990s include Marbin, David Boykin, Karl E. H. Seigfried, Jeff Parker, and Jim Baker. Common to many of this new generation is an embrace of a wide variety of styles and techniques.
During the mid-1960s to the late 1970s a new style of soul music emerged from Chicago. The sound of Chicago soul, like southern soul with its rich influence of black gospel music, also exhibited an unmistakable gospel sound, but was somewhat lighter and more delicate in its approach, or sometimes called soft soul. There have been many popular R&B/soul artists from Chicago such as The Impressions, Sam Cooke, Curtis Mayfield, Lou Rawls, The Chi-lites, The Five Stairsteps, The Staple Singers, Rufus, Chaka Khan, R. Kelly, Dave Hollister, Carl Thomas, and Jennifer Hudson. Chicago soul labels, including, Vee-Jay, Chess Records, OKeh, ABC-Paramount, Brunswick, and Curtom, established a major presence in R&B/Soul music.
In 1965 Chicago's burgeoning pop rock horn sound moved into national exposure with the brass arrangements in early recordings by The Buckinghams, who recorded their first hits at historic Chess Studios. Their horn sound was followed quickly and expanded upon substantially by the rock band Chicago, originally named the Chicago Transit Authority. Other popular Chicago-based bands from the 1970s and early 1980s include Shadows of Knight, Cryan' Shames, The Buckinghams, The Flock, Ides of March, New Colony Six, Mason Proffit, Styx, Survivor, REO Speedwagon (Champaign, IL) and Cheap Trick (Rockford, IL).
As documented in Michael Azerrad's "Our Band Could Be Your Life," the 1980s independent music scene was alive and well in Chicago. Some of the more famous punk and "post-punk" products originating from the city were Naked Raygun, The Effigies, 88 Fingers Louie, Big Black, The Queers and Screeching Weasel, with punk legend Patti Smith also born in the city. Many of these bands would become major precursors to pop punk (Screeching Weasel and The Queers) and post-hardcore (Big Black and Naked Raygun). At this time Steve Albini (of Big Black) also began his prolific recording engineer work with acts both local and national.
That 1980s punk scene eventually gave way to the 1990s alternative rock boom with artists like Local H, Eleventh Dream Day, Ministry, Veruca Salt, My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult, Material Issue, Liz Phair, Urge Overkill, The Squids, LaTour, The Tossers, The Jesus Lizard, and The Smashing Pumpkins gaining notoriety. Many of these bands got their career started at noted alternative music venues Metro (originally Cabaret Metro), Lounge Ax, and later on influential alternative music station Q101. Alternative icons Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam), Kim Thayil (Soundgarden), Adam Jones (Tool), and Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine) also attended school in the area. In the late 1990s, along with Milwaukee, WI and Champaign-Urbana, IL, Chicago also supported a healthy midwestern emo/Post-hardcore scene that included Cap'n Jazz, Braid and American Football.
Since the late 1990s/early 2000s, Chicago has also become a major force in the American heavy metal scene including a handful of Deathcore, death metal and industrial metal groups. Bands such as Dope, Disturbed, From Zero, No One, Ministry, Dance Club Massacre, Born of Osiris, Veil of Maya, Macabre, Oceano and Lovehammers hail from the Chicago area.
Since the 2000s Chicago has remained a hotbed for independent music. Being home to a number of independent record labels such as Touch and Go Records, Thrill Jockey Records, Bloodshot Records, Drag City Records, Victory Records and Hozac Records, Chicago continues to have one of the most active indie scenes in the United States. The area is home to the foundations of American Hardcore punk, Alt-Country, Noise Rock, Industrial music, and many other Independent music scenes.
Contemporary bands with ties to Chicago include Wilco, Tortoise, The Sea and Cake, Califone, The Greenskeepers, The Mekons, Smith Westerns, Andrew Bird, Umphrey's McGee, Neko Case, and Matthew & Eleanor Friedberger of the Fiery Furnaces. The 2000s have also seen many punk/pop/rock bands from the Chicago area attain national success including: Disturbed, Alkaline Trio, Kill Hannah, The Academy Is, Rise Against, The Audition, Spitalfield, Chevelle, Seven Day Sonnet, the Plain White T's, OK Go, and Fall Out Boy.
Despite the scene's often distaste for local politics, city funding has allowed Chicago to become America's premier music festival city, hosting several popular indie headliners in the past couple of years such as Superchunk, Black Francis, Pavement (band), The Flaming Lips, Spoon (band), De La Soul, Mos Def, Isis, Olivia Tremor Control, Junior Boys, and music festivals such as Pitchfork Music Festival, Lollapalooza (since 2005), Chicago Blues Festival, Alehorn of Power, Riot Fest, and a free weekly Monday music series called "Downtown Sound", at Millennium Park's Jay Pritzker Pavilion. Chicago's music scene varies from neighborhood to neighborhood, but overall has a large focus on independent music due to its influences from local record stores and local radio stations WXRT-FM and Loyola University Chicago's WLUW.
Chicago is home to media tastemakers Pitchfork Media, The Onions' A.V. Club, the nationally syndicated Sound Opinions radio talk show, and CHIRP, a community radio station providing the internet with independent music, and also bidding for support to convince the United States Congress and the FCC to remove existing barriers to low power FM radio licenses in urban areas.
The Hip Hop of Chicago or sometimes called Chi-town in the rap industry, includes rappers like Kanye West, Twista, Common, Lupe Fiasco, Da Brat, Yung Berg, Chief Keef and Shawnna. Kanye West's first album was nominated for Grammy Award for Album of the Year and won Best Rap Album. And continued with Lupe Fiasco in 2006, with his album Lupe Fiasco's Food & Liquor which was number one for the top selling Rap album. Today, Chicago is still emerging within the Hip-Hop and rap industry.
- Further Information: Gospel music
Chicago-style Gospel music has been popular for many years. Its origin and rise in popularity is mainly due to the "godfather of Gospel music", Thomas A. Dorsey. Dorsey began his career as a blues pianist, but later on began composing religious music to the rhythms of jazz and blues, later calling it Gospel. His most popular song, "Precious Lord, Take My Hand" was a favorite of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s and was sung by Mahalia Jackson by his request at his funeral. Many other artists have recorded their own renditions of Precious Lord, including another Chicago Gospel artist, Albertina Walker. Dorsey has influenced other Chicago Gospel artists such as The Caravans and Little Joey McClork. Music historians often cite Pilgrim Baptist Church in Chicago's Bronzeville neighborhood as the birthplace of Gospel music. Chicago Gospel originators including James Cleveland, The Staples Singers, and the Edwin Hawkins singers have performed there. Tired of the treatment he received in other music publishing houses, Dorsey founded his own called Dorsey House of Music. Other instrumental members in the Gospel music movement were Roberta Martin, Sallie Martin, and Kenneth Morris (composer). The influences of jazz and blues have been replaced with more contemporary influences such as Hip hop music, rap, and Rhythm and blues. Chicago is home to the annual GospelFest where traditional and contemporary Gospel choirs perform.
Other than Edwin Hawkins, Mahalia Jackson, Thomas A. Dorsey, The Staples Singers, and James Cleveland, Rev. Milton Brunson and The Thompson Community Singers originated in Chicago. Dr. Charles G. Hayes and Rev. Dr. Clay Evans both had chart-topping choirs in Chicago. Urban contemporary gospel artists such as Ray and Percy Bady, Darius Brooks, Ricky Dillard & New Generation Chorale, Joshua’s Troop, New Direction, Shekinah Glory Ministry, and VaShawn Mitchell all have had Gospel hits and hail from Chicago and its surrounding suburbs.
Music venues and institutions in Chicago
Chicago has many Music venues.
- Aragon Ballroom
- Arie Crown Theatre
- Bottom Lounge
- Charter One Pavilion
- Chicago Opera Theater
- Chicago Shakespeare Theater
- Chicago Theatre
- Civic Opera House
- Congress Theater
- The Cubby Bear
- Double Door
- Drury Lane Theatre
- The Empty Bottle
- The Fireside Bowl
- Ford Center for the Performing Arts Oriental Theatre
- Gate of Horn
- Gateway Theatre
- Goodman Theatre
- Harris Theater
- The Jazz Showcase
- LaSalle Bank Theatre
- Lincoln Hall
- Lounge Ax
- Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire, Illinois
- Metro Chicago
- Park West
- Petrillo Music Shell
- Portage Theater
- Jay Pritzker Pavilion
- Redmoon Theater
- Riviera Theatre
- Rosemont Theater
- Sears Centre
- Symphony Center (home to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chicago Sinfonietta)
- UIC Pavilion
- United Center
- The Vic Theater
- Woodstock Opera House
- Chicago Blues
- Chicago Blues Festival
- Chicago house
- Chicago hardcore
- Chicago Soul
- Chicago Jazz Festival
- Culture of Chicago
- Chicago record labels
- Chicago theatre
- History of Chicago
- List of musicians from Chicago
- List of museums and cultural institutions in Chicago
- List of songs about Chicago
- Media in Chicago
- Music of Illinois
- Wax Trax!
|Music of the United States|
- Centerstage Chicago Retrieved on 2008-09-18
- Chicago Sinfonietta Website. Retrieved on 2008-11-7
- Cosgrove, Stuart"The History of House Sound of Chicago The Story Continues..." Web reproduction 
- "Research Resources on Chicago and the Great Migration". The University of Chicago Library. Chicago Jazz Archive. Retrieved 2008-03-22.
- *Owsley, Dennis C.; Owsley, Rosa B. "Jazz History: A Study Guide". Jazz Unlimited. Dennis C. and Rosa B. Owsley. Retrieved 2008-03-22.
Many southern blacks migrated to Chicago during and after World War I and the musicians migrated with them. White Chicagoans developed a style based on what they heard the blacks play. ... Most of the important early jazz recordings were made in the area.
- "Chicago Jazz Festival" City of Chicago - Chicago Jazz Festival. Retrieved on 2008-09-07
- Reverend Al Sharpton, Michigan Avenue Magazine, Fall 2008, p298.
- Huey, Steve. "Effigies - Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved March 28, 2011.
- Chi-town - Rap Dictionary. Retrieved on 2008-11-12
- Guarino, Mark. "Because gospel music is still being played in the very churches where it originated". Chicago Magazine. Rich Gamble. Retrieved 28 February 2014.
- Russick, John. "Gospel". Encyclopedia of Chicago. Chicago Historical Society. Retrieved 4 March 2014.
- "Artist Database". ChicagoGospel. ChicagoGospel. Retrieved 7 March 2014.