Previously, Ayana served as a producer for Sound Opinions. From 2012-2017 she was Executive Producer of The Barber Shop Show hosted by Richard Steele, which was broadcast from a working barber shop on Chicago’s West Side.
Ayana was a 2014/15 University of Chicago Arts + Public Life Artist-In-Residence, and a 2011 Artist-In-Residence at Theaster Gates’s Dorchester Projects. In 2017, she received the Clementine Skinner Award by the Vivian Harsh Society, and was chosen as an Association of Independents in Radio (AIR) New Voices Scholar in 2015.
She is also a columnist for DownBeat magazine, and her writings have been published in Chicago Review, Oxford American and Bandcamp Daily among other publications. Her book on Post-Civil Rights Era cultural history, titled Energy Never Dies: Afro-Optimism and Creativity in Chicago, was published December 2021 through University of Illinois Press.
Her first hosting gig was with WBEZ’s Global Overnight program in 2007.
Stories by Ayana Contreras
Pitchfork Music Festival announces 2023 lineup
The Smile, Big Thief and Bon Iver headline; plus, we share some of Vocalo’s most anticipated performances
Elegance Bratton on how his own life is reflected in the film ‘The Inspection’
Vocalo’s Ayana Contreras sits down with the director Elegance Bratton on his debut feature film “The Inspection.”
100 years ago, Louis Armstrong came to Chicago and changed music history
Armstrong landed in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood 100 years ago. How did the city influence his music and vice versa?
Digging into the legacy of Chicago’s Gramaphone Records
Jesse De La Pena of Chicago’s Vocalo Radio dives into the cultural significance of Gramaphone Records for the store’s 50th anniversary
The Best Albums of 2019
As 2019 comes to a close, hosts Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot reflect on the best albums of the year. They also hear from Sound Opinions producers and listeners about their favorites.
Call It Clave, Or Call It Hambone — The Beat’s The Same
Clave is the foundation of salsa, boogaloo, mambo and so much more.
Reclaimed Soul Serves Up Slice Of 75th Birthday Cake To Chicago Musician And Producer Willie Henderson
The Brunswick label was one of the biggest players in the Chicago Soul scene, and one of the key men behind the sounds at Brunswick was Willie Henderson.