House music legend shaped by childhood in Auburn Gresham

December 12, 2011

Bill Healy

Growing up in Chicago’s Auburn Gresham neighborhood, DJ Farley "Jackmaster" Funk says he and his friends would sneak into bars and taverns like the Green Bunny on 77th and Halsted to see the “grown ladies in high heels” and smell the cigarette smoke and liquor. “We didn’t know what the smell was,” he recalls. “But we knew it was a grown-folks smell.”

Funk is now a house music legend and sought-after entertainer, filling clubs and headlining a show at Millennium Park earlier this year. He credits the neighborhood of his youth with shaping his musical tastes and helping him forge the professional connections that would later help him break into the music biz. “Auburn Gresham was the place we were able to hone our skills in so many different areas,” he says.

All this week, we're spending time in the South Side community, getting to know a few of the people who live, work, and play there. We get started with DJ Jackmaster Funk, who describes how his upbringing in Auburn Gresham planted the seeds of his musical future.

Auburn Gresham, Chicago received support from the Chicago Community Trust's Local Reporting Initiative.