Cultural organizations like the Hyde Park Arts Center, Stony Island Arts Bank and the DuSable Museum of African American History are teaming up this weekend for a series of events highlighting creativity on Chicago’s South Side.
The daylong event — called “Celebrating South Side Stories” — will feature musical performances, storytelling, museum tours, and even a collage-making workshop.
Morning Shift talks to two of the creative people who are participating in the extravaganza about their work, the performances they’ll be giving at the festival and their own South Side stories.
Maggie Brown’s “Great Migration”
Maggie Brown: I’m Mississippi on both sides. My father and my mother’s side came up from Mississippi getting out of the Jim Crow life of the South, and heading toward a better life in Chicago. The [Chicago] Defender announced that there were better opportunities. And being a teacher also, with the music, I’ll often get in front of students wanting to illustrate history in a way that I hope will excite them, and so that’s really what inspired the poem first. […] And I just want to say it in a way that hopefully will catch on and make people feel proud, and like they want to carry on in a proud and dignified way.
Avery R. Young and De Deacon Board’s “Lil Lillie”
Avery R. Young: “Lil Lillie” is a song about my mama, and really kind of telling the narrative of how Avery R. Young got to be here. It’s a song off a collection of music that is inspired by poems that I have from a book coming out next year. I talked about what it’s like to grow up black, male, and a bunch of other adjectives here in Chicago. And “Lil Lillie” is one of those stories about my natural-born mother. I was raised by her aunt, my great aunt. And this is basically a story of how she just so happened to have four children, and the whole mystery of where their daddies are from. Things of that nature.
Why You Shouldn’t Be Afraid to Visit the South Side
Brown: A lot of times people who certainly aren’t from the South Side would say, “Oh, the South Side—it’s a scary place, with violence and so much troubles.” But no, when you come to any one of these [museums] on Saturday, you’ll see the resilience of the human spirit, and the beauty with which we have built on what our ancestors left us. And they came through some really really rough times, and these times are crazy too. But these artists are seeking to articulate … a vibe that’s going to change this thing. So come help us.
Maggie Brown, vocalist, storyteller, music producer
Avery R. Young, poet, songwriter, multidisciplinary artist
LEARN MORE: Maggie Brown (personal website)
Avery R. Young (3Arts Chicago Artists)
Avery R. Young (Soundcloud)