2020 was the Year of Chicago Music and also marked the nonprofit Arts & Business Council of Chicago’s 35th year supporting creative enterprises to help ensure that the beat goes on. So we invited the public to help determine 35 great moments in Chicago music history.
One thing became clear as public votes for great moments in Chicago music history were tallied: disruption, grit, and innovation—much of it applied under the weight of systemic racism—have fueled the moments that make Chicago a hotbed for music that starts and amplifies cultural movements.
Another truth made obvious in the process was that even with the valued input of those who voted, and of the #ChiMusic35 Ambassadors, A&BC and our volunteers are in no position to declare any 35 moments “the greatest,” especially in a city with as many great musical moments as Chicago can claim. We consider this list merely a necessarily incomplete introduction to Chicago’s incredibly influential music history.