Blues and the Spirit in Chicago FEATURED

Blues & the Spirit II Symposium on Chicago Blues and Gospel

Blues and the Spirit ChicagoTonight and tomorrow, Dominican University will present the second biannual Blues and the Spirit Symposium on Chicago Blues and Gospel Music on June 9 and 10 in Parmer Hall, 7900 W. Division Street, River Forest in Chicago. American Blues Scene will be on hand to report on the event, it’s speakers, and, of course, the music from acclaimed artists.

Keynote speaker for the symposium, which will commemorate the centennial of Howlin’ Wolf’s birth, will be Chuck D, co-founder of seminal rap group Public Enemy and one of Rolling Stone magazine’s “50 Most Important Performers in Rock & Roll History.”

Blues and the Spirit II will expand the inaugural May 2008 symposium’s focus on the heritage of African-American musical traditions in Chicago and will explore the shared roots of blues and gospel music. In addition to commemorating the centennial of Howlin’ Wolf’s birth, the symposium will honor the 40th anniversary of Living Blues magazine, America’s first publication devoted exclusively to the blues. On Wednesday evening, June 9, Blues and Spirit Awards will be presented to Barry Dolins, deputy director of the Mayor’s Office of Special Events and the catalyst for the city’s blues and gospel festivals, and Howlin’ Wolf’s daughters Bettye Kelly and Barbra Marks.

The symposium will also include a pro jam Wednesday evening with the surviving sidemen who played with legendary blues musicians Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon and Howlin’ Wolf as well as some of the best musicians from the current Chicago blues scene.

Other highlights of the symposium include the following:

  • A keynote address on sacred and secular gospel music by Dr. Karen Wilson, assistant director of the Gluck Fellows Program of the Arts at the University of California-Riverside and a scholar on African Disaporic Folklore and Culture.
  • An Elders Council on the legacy of Howlin’ Wolf and the Chicago blues, featuring:

Chuck D, a frequent commentator on the connection between blues and hip hop and a contributor to Martin Scorsese’s seven-part film series, The Blues: A Musical Journey
Eddie Shaw, one of Howlin’ Wolf’s original sidemen and the arranger for Wolf’s London sessions with Eric Clapton
Jody Williams, guitarist for such 1950s era recordings as Bo Diddley’s Who Do You Love and Howlin’ Wolf’s Forty Four
Abb Locke, Howlin’ Wolf’s saxophonist in the 1950s and a musician who has played with the Rolling Stones and recorded with Buddy Guy, Albert Collins, Muddy Waters and Elmore Leonard
Marie Dixon, widow of Willie Dixon and CEO of the Blues Heaven Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting the documentation and promotion of the blues and located in the landmark Chess Records building at 2120 S. Michigan Avenue in Chicago
Sterling Plumpp, professor emeritus in English and African-American Studies at the University of Illinois-Chicago and author of Blues: The Story Always Untold

  • A panel discussion on blues journalism with the co-founders and current writers of Living Blues magazine Paul GaronJim O’Neal and Amy van Singel
  • Panels by such recognized experts on blues and gospel music as Josh Hecht and Gina Berrett, co-producers of Smokestack Lightning: The Legendary Howlin’ WolfMitsutoshi Inaba, author of Willie Dixon: Preacher of the Blues (Scarecrow Press); and Lincoln Beauchamp, founding editor and publisher of the Original Chicago Blues Annual and Literati Chicago.
  • A performance by The Jubilee Travelers Gospel Quartet

The symposium will end Thursday evening, June 10 with a trip to the Chicago Blues Festival and an after-party at the renowned Rosa’s Lounge.The registration fee for this two-day symposium is $75, which includes the opening reception, pro jam and transportation to and from the Chicago Blues Festival and after party at Rosa’s Lounge. Limited on-campus lodging is available. The first 100 registrants will receive the original first volume of Living Blues magazine. For more information about Blues and the Spirit II, please contact Dr. Janice Monti at 708-524-6050 or at [email protected], or visit the website at

Founded in 1901, Dominican University is a comprehensive, coeducational Catholic institution offering bachelor’s degrees and master’s degrees through the Graduate School of Library and Information Science, the Brennan School of Business, the School of Education, the Graduate School of Social Work, and the School of Leadership and Continuing Studies. The university also offers a doctoral degree in library and information science. In the 2010 issue of America’s Best Colleges, U.S. News & World Report ranked Dominican University in the top 20 of Midwest master’s level universities. The magazine also ranked Dominican as one of 15 Midwest Great Schools at a Great Price.

Find out More on Blues and the Spirit Symposium at the Official Website


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