Annual Community Music Festival Staples Itself in Summer Lineup

Wednesday, 09 September 2015 22:26 Written by  Iya Bakare

As we say farewell to another Chicago summer and reflect on all the festivals that took place, one stands out – the 4th Annual Westside Music Festival held a few weeks ago.

The soulful celebration blends Ravinia-style music from local artists and well-renowned acts in a family environment on the west side of the city. Ald. Michael Scott, Jr. (24th), M Group Worldwide and the Westside Cultural Foundation teamed up to create another weekend to wish children a productive upcoming school year and something for the adults to enjoy, both of which continue to celebrate a central theme – family.

The weekend started early with a meet and greet with R&B crooner Case, one of the featured artists of the festival. The singer/songwriter spoke about his stint in the music industry, his journey and his art. However, the subject of community resonated in all of his responses about the state of soul music.

“Soul music tells the story of our black community, which is more than strip clubs and popping bottles,” Case says. “There are no protest songs out there and we have a lot to protest about.”

Headlined by R&B trio Bell Biv Devoe, producers of the festival continue to deliver on their promise to provide soulful acts, which the youth can relate to, but speak to the childhoods of the adults. This unique experience and the performances from the festival provide a common thread as old memories are evoked and new ones are created. This festival is a small window where generations can bond, especially at a time in the music industry and in our community when soul music is diluted and disrupted by other influences. The independent artist commented when the merge between R&B and Hip Hop took place, R&B lost its identity in the relationship. This metaphor relates to family dynamics as well.

“We’re in a small box right now for soul music,” Case adds. “The 1970s was a golden time for soul music because there were so many different artists, but all of them were successful. Nothing in this industry is set up for soul music and nothing has variety any more. Everything is the same.”

This annual festival hasn’t lost its identity. It continues to deliver class act performers for entertainment. But, most importantly, it continues to both engage and empower the community it aims to reach.


Photo Credit: Burrows Photography, Int.

Iya Bakare

Iya Bakare

Iya Bakare, GMO's managing editor, earned both her Bachelor and Master of Arts degrees in print journalism. She earned her B.A. from Delta State University with a minor in English and graduated with a M.A. degree from Columbia College Chicago. In her spare time, the Chicago native continues to freelance and ponder ways to both inform and improve her community one story at a time.

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