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Lyric Unlimited and the Museum present: Chicago Voices TALK!


Tickets now on sale for three exciting panel discussions and live performance events exploring Chicago’s vocal history!

Lyric Unlimited and the Chicago History Museum present Chicago Voices TALK, a series of three panel discussions and live performances commemorating Chicago’s colorful vocal history and the pioneers who have contributed to the city’s gospel, classical and hip-hop music scene.

The panels will take place at the Chicago History Museum on January 15 at 5p.m. and January 24 and 31 at 7p.m. Tickets for the general public are $10 (or $25 for all three panels) and can be purchased here. Discounted tickets are available to students, Lyric Opera subscribers, and Chicago History Museum members online or by calling 312-642-4600.

Ayana Contreras, WBEZ contributor and host of Vocalo’s “Reclaimed Soul,” will moderate the three panels featuring music experts, live performances from Chicago artists and interactive audience Q&A sessions. The Museum will also showcase rarely seen objects from its collection, and guests are encouraged to discover Chicago’s music history throughout the Museum’s galleries.

The program is part of Chicago Voices, a groundbreaking, multi-year initiative celebrating Chicago’s vibrant, diverse vocal music culture. The TALK panels explore some of the topics and vocalists that will be in the spotlight for the Chicago Voices Gala Concert on February 4, 2017 at Lyric’s Civic Opera House.

“Lyric Unlimited is thrilled to partner with the Chicago History Museum for this exciting component of the Chicago Voices Initiative,” said Cayenne Harris, Lyric Unlimited Director. “We hope that these events will draw people closer to the vocalists – past and present – who have contributed to our musical legacy as a city.”

“Chicago has a storied history of musical innovation and excellence,” said Joy Bivins, director of curatorial affairs at the Chicago History Museum. “These three genres provide us a great glimpse into the diversity of musical styles that have flourished in the city.”

The following talks will be presented at the Chicago History Museum (1601 N. Clark Street):

Gospel: Mahalia Jackson & the Civil Rights Movement
Sunday, January 15, 5 p.m.
Celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday by revisiting gospel legend Mahalia Jackson and her contributions to the 1960s American Civil Rights Movement. Mahalia Jackson’s choir robe, a letter addressed to Jackson from Martin Luther King Jr. and other rarely seen Civil Rights artifacts from the Museum’s collection will be on display for the evening. Panelists include Robert Marovich, author of A City Called Heaven: Chicago & the Birth of Gospel Music; Joy Bivins, director of curatorial affairs at the Chicago History Museum; and Johari Jabir, associate professor of African-American Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Members of the renowned Trinity United Church of Christ gospel choir will perform live.

Classical: Chicago Women in Opera
Tuesday, January 24, 7 p.m.
Discover the trailblazing women responsible for presenting internationally acclaimed opera in Chicago: famed soprano diva and Chicago Civic Opera “directa” Mary Garden, Lyric Opera of Chicago founder and general director Carol Fox, and her successor Ardis Krainik. Panelists include Lyric Opera’s dramaturg Roger Pines. An Ensemble member from Lyric’s Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center will perform.

Hip-Hop: How the City Inspires the Sound
Tuesday, January 31, 7 p.m.
Examine Chicago’s impact on hip-hop and discover how the city influences today’s music. Panelists include hip-hop performer and activist Amina Norman-Hawkins; Andrew Barber, founder of Chicago-based music blog Fake Shore Drive; and hip-hop artist and performer Add-2. The program includes a performance by Add-2.

Partners for Chicago Voices are Chicago Public Library, Chicago History Museum and Columbia College Chicago.

About Lyric Unlimited

Lyric Unlimited, a division of Lyric Opera of Chicago, offers a multifaceted program of education, community engagement and artistic initiatives. The purpose of Lyric Unlimited is to provide a relevant cultural service to communities throughout the Chicago area, including communities for whom opera and opera companies have been largely irrelevant; to explore a wide range of ways in which Lyric can collaborate with cultural and community organizations throughout the area; and to advance the development of opera, exploring ways in which opera as an art form can resonate more powerfully, and in a range of different ways, with people of multiple backgrounds, ethnicities, and interests. In the 2015/16 season, 94,386 individuals participated in Lyric Unlimited programs.
For more information about Lyric Unlimited program offerings, visit


The Chicago History Museum is situated on ancestral homelands of the Potawatomi people, who cared for the land until forced out by non-Native settlers. Established in 1856, the Museum is now at 1601 N. Clark Street in Lincoln Park, its third location. As a major museum and research center for Chicago and U.S. history, the Chicago History Museum strives to be a destination for learning, inspiration and civic engagement. Through dynamic exhibitions, tours, publications, special events and programming, the Museum connects people to Chicago’s history and to each other. To share Chicago stories, the Museum collects and preserves millions of artifacts, documents, images and other items that are relevant to the city’s history. The Museum gratefully acknowledges the support of the Chicago Park District on behalf of the people of Chicago. 

Chicago History Museum Sharing Chicago Stories