Musically, when people think Chicago, they often think of the blues-an urban adaptation of traditional southern blues which migrated north from rural Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi. Artists like Howlin' Wolf, Elmore James, and James Cotton are just some of the Chicago blues communities' founding fathers.
Following in the shoes of the legendary bluesmen before them, Earl Hines and Benny Goodman transformed an existing genre, jazz, with a uniquely Chicago style and made the Windy City an epicenter for jazz in the early 20th century. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra quickly became a staple, contributing to multiple GRAMMY-winning recordings and laying the groundwork for a stunning scene of classical chamber groups and choruses. Additionally, the early roots of Gospel music developed here, with Thomas A. Dorsey, Mahalia Jackson, the Soul Stirrers, and the Caravans building a thriving gospel music legacy. In the early '60s, Chicago once again put its own spin on an emerging genre: soul. Lou Rawls, the Staple Singers, Curtis Mayfield and the team at Chess Records were bringing a softer soul sound to America’s music consumers.
And in July 1961, the Recording Academy opened its doors as the third Chapter after New York and L.A. Not only did the Chapter represent Chicago recording artists, but those from across the Midwest including Minneapolis, Detroit, and Milwaukee. As the Chapter began to grow, so did the area's music diversity, the soft soul which was driving the "Chicago sound" began to share the stage with a burgeoning rock scene featuring bands like Styx, Chicago, and Cheap Trick. The Chicago musical melting pot became even more diverse in the '90s when Steve “Silk” Hurley and Frankie Knuckles added house music to the mix.
Today, Chicago's musical roots proudly represent its eclectic past with artists like Kanye West, Kaskade, Common, Wilco, Fall Out Boy and R. Kelly. The Chicago Chapter has evolved since 1961 to represent music makers from every genre and at every level of their career. Supplying artists and recording professionals with educational and networking opportunities, the Recording Academy is an integral part of the local Chicago music community.
Please take a few minutes and explore not only what the Chicago Chapter is doing, but what all the Chapters have to offer in the way of professional development and opportunities for our members.
Chicago Chapter Executive Director: Sarah Jansen
President: Mark Hubbard
The Recording Academy
1658 Milwaukee Ave., #303
Chicago, IL 60647