Ayana Contreras

Vocalo Director of Content
Ayana Contreras is Content Director of Vocalo. She is an avid collector of vintage vinyl records, and shares her knowledge as host of Reclaimed Soul on both Vocalo and WBEZ. As a DJ, she has shared the stage with a wide variety of artists, from Roy Ayers to Gang of Four.

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