Black History Month wrapped up in February, but Chicago abounds with celebrations of African American contributions to the city's rich culture year round. Performers, producers and organizers of the Black Ensemble Theater Company, the only African American theater located in the north side Uptown community, feel the same way. This month, they're bringing two shows to the stage that highlight famous local black musicians' influences on modern music.
Chicago musicians in the ‘60s and ‘70s set a gold standard when it came to soul and R&B songs. Artists like Jerry Butler, Curtis Mayfield, Gene Chandler, Major Lance, The Impressions, Betty Everett, Barbara Aklin, and the Chi Lites all called this city home at one point and they're all celebrated during Black Ensemble Theatre's lively revue "Chicago's Golden Soul."
While it's not short on music-dancing down the aisles isn't discouraged-Chicago's Golden Soul is also heavy on shining light on the history, culture and dance styles of that era.
Take your 1960s soul music fandom one step further by checking out another Black Ensemble production, running alongside "Chicago's Golden Soul" through March, "It's All-Right to Have a Good Time: The Story of Curtis Mayfield." Born in Chicago in 1942 and raised in the city's infamous Cabrini-Green projects, Curtis Mayfield is a legend of funk and soul music both as a solo artist and a member of The Impressions. He's perhaps best known for his role in and accompanying soundtrack to the movie Super Fly. He is both a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winner and a Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame inductee.
Both shows were written and directed by Black Ensemble Theater Company's Executive Director Jackie Taylor, who also founded the company in 1976. These shows help make up the one hundred-plus productions that Black Ensemble has put on (with the help of more than 5,000 artists) since that time.
Both shows will be held at the Black Ensemble Theater Cultural Center (4450 N. Clark), a beautiful, 2-year-old, 299-seat theatre.
"Chicago's Golden Soul" runs Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays through March. Weekday tickets are $55 and tickets to the Saturday shows are $65. "It's All-Right to Have a Good Time: The Story of Curtis Mayfield" hits the stage Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in March. All tickets are $65.