March 06, 2019

Catch Up With Chicago Voices!

Lyric Unlimited, along with world-renowned soprano Renée Fleming, launched the groundbreaking Chicago Voices initiative one year ago this month! The dynamic, multi-year program celebrates the stories of Chicago communities and Chicago’s vibrant vocal culture. Through elements like SING and Community Created PerformancesChicago Voices crisscrossed the city, highlighting what makes Chicago music so special. And there’s still much more to come! Join us for these upcoming Chicago Voices events and activities!  

An Unforgettable Weekend of Music

Chicago Voices Concert: On Saturday, February 4 at Lyric’s Civic Opera House, enjoy a one-night-only, multi-genre concert honoring iconic vocalists with deep ties to Chicago! Brimming with musical surprises and delights, the concert will pay homage to Chicago’s past and present vocal scene, while celebrating some of the signature sounds for which the city is known. The Concert will showcase unique and eclectic performances, including mixed-genre artist collaborations that blend musical styles such as blues, jazz, rock, hip-hop, gospel, and classical. Performers include Renée Fleming (who will also curate the concert), legendary folk singer/songwriter John Prine, gospel and R&B artist Michelle Williams, Broadway star Jessie Mueller, “New Queen of Blues” artist Shemekia Copeland, world-renowned tenor Matthew Polenzani, alternative/indie husband–and-wife duo The Handsome Family, and others to be announced. Concert tickets can be purchased here or by calling 312-827-5600. 

Expert Panels and Master Classes: Offered in partnership with Columbia College Chicago, join us February 2 – 4 for a multi-day series of panel discussions and master classes presented in conjunction with the Chicago Voices Concert. Many of the vocalists featured in the concert will take part in discussions, master classes, and demonstrations discussing topics such as vocal health and medicine, music business, self-marketing and promotion, social media, and career planning.

Renée Fleming invites you to CHICAGO VOICES

We Want to Hear From YOU!

Community Created Performances: This past year, Chicago Voices put out the call for Chicago-area groups to share their community’s untold story. Applications were received from groups based in an array of Chicago neighborhoods, who wanted to share their unique story through song. With the help of a $10,000 stipend and a Lyric-hired creative team, three groups were chosen by the public to bring their story to life on stage at a performance at the Harris Theater. Now, we’re looking for a new batch of Chicago groups that want to tell their community’s story through music! Visit for the latest updates!

Events Around The City

Chicago Voices TALK A series of panel discussions and live performances presented in partnership with the Chicago History Museum, kicks off this month. These events focus on Chicago’s colorful vocal history and the pioneers who have contributed to gospel, classical, and hip-hop musical genres. Ayana Contreras, WBEZ contributor and host of Vocalo’s Reclaimed Soul, will moderate the three panels (held at Chicago History Museum), which will feature music experts, dynamic live performances from local Chicago artists, and Q&A sessions with the audience. The panels will focus on Gospel (January 15, 5pm)Classical (January 24, 7pm), and Hip-Hop (January 31, 7pm)Tickets are available here!

VIEW: Curated by graduate students from the School of the Art Institute, three noteworthy photographic exhibitions are now open around Chicago! The photo exhibitions pay homage to some of the most creative and influential vocalists in America, all of whom have ties to Chicago. High-powered artists featured include blues legends Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf; the “Queen of Gospel” Mahalia Jackson; “King of Soul” Sam Cooke; Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder; Wilco singer/ songwriter Jeff Tweedy; and beloved folksinger and songwriter Steve Goodman. Each exhibit location features its own unique collection of photographs of vocalists who grew up, lived in, or have ties to the area. 

The exhibitions, running concurrently through February 4, are open to the public at these locations: 

West Side: Homan Square Community Center, 3517 W. Arthington
South Side: Ancien Cycles & Café, 4544 N. Lincoln Ave. 
North Side: Old Town School of Folk Music, 1558 E. 53rd St.

Photo: Dominic M. Mercier/Philadelphia Opera