In the News: Hebru Brantley Selected as Chicago Ideas Week 2013 Artist In Residence

“The Watch,” Brantley’s 16-Figure Sculpture Installation, Currently on View
in Chicago's Pioneer Court Plaza, 401 N. Michigan Avenue

Hebru Brantley Banner

Hebru Brantley, Chicago Ideas Week (CIW) 2013 Artist in Residence, has created “The Watch,” a sculpture installation representing the troubles and triumphs local students face in the Chicago neighborhoods they call home. The 16-figure sculpture, inspired by conversations with students from Chicago Public High Schools who are part of the CIW YOU(th) program, re-envisions Brantley’s original characters to enliven the public space while stimulating community revitalization and national dialogue about the obstacles facing today’s youth. “The Watch” is currently on view in Pioneer Court Plaza at 401 N. Michigan Avenue, outside of  Chicago Ideas Week HQ.

The Watch by Hebru Brantley

Comprised of 16 child superheroes, the goggle-wearing sculptures in “The Watch” pay homage to the Tuskegee Airmen, the first African-American military aviators in the United States armed forces who fought in World War II. Fly Boy and Fly Girl (also known as Lil’ Mama) are Brantley’s original protagonists, frequently appearing in his comic and street art-inspired paintings and sculptures. Transformed by the goggles into bold and brave protectors on watch for danger, Fly Boy and Fly Girl have risen above their hardships and serve as aspirational figures for all of us, as they seek to spawn positive changes in the urban environment.

“When given the opportunity to work with the Chicago Ideas Week, I knew I wanted to focus on a project that celebrates an unrepresented youth culture and speak to a diverse audience,” said Brantley. “It is my goal that this piece, and all of my artwork, provoke discourse, generating conversations in a public context that will counter media stereotypes and spur transformation and growth within individuals and in the larger communities in Chicago and beyond.”

The CIW Artist in Residence program, generously underwritten by Nancy and Steve Crown, is designed to engage and expose the city of Chicago to emerging local artists through the creation of an extraordinary installation that coincides with Chicago Ideas Week, which brings together hundreds of the world’s brightest thought leaders to inspire, connect and activate the city of Chicago and beyond. The art installation aims to draw on and intensify the impact of existing CIW programs that center around sparking ideas and connections, solving social issues and empowering the city’s youth to become future leaders.

Additional CIW Artist in Residence programming includes:

Hebru Brantley: Mind Mapping
Monday, October 14
2:00PM - 4:00PM
401 North Michigan Avenue
Grades 10-12

Explore the idea of "self" with local Chicago artist, Hebru Brantley. From cartoons to community, Warhol to Basquiat, Hebru shares his journey and personal inspirations with the CIW YOU(th) participants. Alongside Hebru's work with a variety of surfaces and media, students will explore their own unique creative processes.

Creative Process: A Method to the Madness
Sunday, October 20
12:00PM - 1:30PM
Presented by Leo Burnett
Edlis Neeson Theater at the Museum of Contemporary Art

There is a unique process behind every beautiful performance, nostalgic ballad, complex production and breathtaking work of art. From innate moments of inspiration to the dark days of creative block, visionaries spanning many genres unlock the secrets to their artistic success. This discussion includes commentary from Hebru Brantley, CIW Artist in Residence; Tracy Letts, Pulitzer Prize winning writer and Tony Award-Winning Actor & Writer; Jenn Rogien, Costume Designer for HBO's "GIRLS" & Netflix's "Orange Is The New Black;" Dan Ariely, Professor at Duke University; Danny Forster, TV Host of the Science Channel's "Build It Bigger;” and Mario Batali, critically acclaimed chef and restaurateur.

About Hebru Brantley

Hebru Brantley’s art explores personal and cultural memory, taking themes from his 1980s upbringing and characters of his own creation. Brantley’s playful aesthetic, often highlighting social issues, explores the optimism and possibilities of youth. His work draws from an array of influences, including pop culture icons, comic book heroes, Japanese anime and street art pioneers Jean Michel Basquiat, Kaws and Keith Haring. Brantley has exhibited widely and has received commissions for art projects around the world.

For more information, visit Follow Hebru on Twitter and Instagram @hebrubrantley.

About Chicago Ideas Week

Chicago Ideas Week (CIW) is a premier annual gathering of global thought leaders and passionate participants that was created to help great ideas become reality. It’s a platform for innovators, thinkers, doers and interested citizens from across Chicago and the world. CIW's goal is to stimulate new initiatives and ventures, create new connections and collaborations and establish a community of people with the desire to achieve great things.

For more information, please visit, our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter via @chicagoideas. For more information about the Artist in Residence program, visit

Groovin' with Amel Larrieux!

Amel Larrieux - Ice Cream EverydayAmel Larrieux Returns!

It's been a little over six years since Amel Larrieux released a album and a little under 9 months since she performed at City Winery.  Well, she's back!

Ice Cream Everyday has been in the works for over five years!  We were lucky to hear a few of the new songs during Amel's performance on December 22, 2012 when she graced the City Winery stage for the first time.  She doesn't seem to have aged at all!  She flitted gracefully through her notes and across the stage in her trademark style. It was truly a family affair, with her husband, Laru Larrieux on sound and her daughter, Sky Larrieux on keys and vocals.

The CD is now scheduled to be released on October 1st, but the first single, Afraid, from Ice Cream Everyday was released June.  Have a listen!  If you attended her concert on December 22nd at City Winery, you'll probably be back this Saturday!

Amel Larrieux performs Saturday, September 21st - get the details{***Note that this performance may have been postponed until November 7th***.}

We first fell in love with Amel Larrieux as a member of Groove Theory.  Let's take a trip back down memory lane with Tell Me while we wait for Saturday to get here!

Tell Me Video 

[caption id="attachment_1457" align="aligncenter" width="450"]Click to watch the Tell Me video! Click to watch the Tell Me video![/caption]


In the News: Tony Winner Audra McDonald In Concert at Symphony Center!


[caption id="attachment_1447" align="aligncenter" width="450"]Audra McDonald Photo by Eddie Malluk[/caption]

The incomparable Audra McDonald, winner of five Tony Awards and two Grammys, makes her first appearance at Symphony Center since 2001 for an intimate evening with her trio on Saturday, October 12 at 8 p.m.

Go Back HomeThe concert features selections from her new album, Go Back Home, which was released by Nonesuch Records on May 21. Go Back Home is McDonald’s first solo recording in seven years and her most personal album to date. The disc features songs by composers with whom she has long been associated, including Stephen Sondheim, Adam Guettel, Michael John LaChiusa, and Rodgers & Hammerstein, as well as selections that are relatively new to her repertoire, including the title track by Kander and Ebb. She also continues her long-standing tradition of championing new works by up-and-coming musical theater composers, represented on this album by Adam Gwon, Heisler and Goldrich, and Will Reynolds.

McDonald received the 2013 Artist-of-the-Year Award by the Chicago-based Sarah Siddons Society on June 17, which has also been given to such acclaimed actresses as Helen Hayes, Lauren Bacall, Liza Minnelli, Julie Andrews, Bernadette Peters, Patti LuPone and Barbara Cook. She also had the privilege of performing the closing number at the 2013 Tony Awards with host Neil Patrick Harris on June 9. PBS's Live from Lincoln Center aired Audra McDonald in Concert: Go Back Home on May 24, 2013; in November 2012, McDonald was named the first host of the series since Beverly Sills.

Audra McDonald Rise and Fall of the City of MahagonnyAudra McDonald is known to audiences for her work on stage and screen as a singer and actress who is universally acclaimed for the breadth and depth of her artistry. She’s a versatile stage presence, equally at home in musicals and plays, having won Tony Awards for her performances in Carousel (1994), Master Class (1996), Ragtime (1998) and A Raisin in the Sun (2004). Her fifth Tony came in 2011 for her starring role in The Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, which tied her with Angela Lansbury and Julie Harris for the most performance awards. In addition to her two Grammy Awards—for the cast recording of Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht’s Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny—she has been nominated for two Emmy Awards for her performances in the HBO production of Wit and the television adaptation of A Raisin in the Sun. She starred as Dr. Naomi Bennett on ABC’s hit television series Private Practice for four seasons. In addition to her work as an actress, she has a busy career as a concert and recording artist, regularly performing at the world’s top venues.

Complete program details follow:

Symphony Center Presents Special Concert

Saturday, October 12, 2013, 8 p.m.
An Evening with Audra McDonald
Audra McDonald, vocals
Andy Einhorn, musical director and piano
Mark Vanderpoel, bass
Gene Lewin, drums

Tickets: $40–$80

About the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) is consistently hailed as one of the greatest orchestras in the world. Its music director since 2010 is Riccardo Muti, one of the preeminent conductors of our day. The venerable Pierre Boulez is the CSO’s Helen Regenstein Conductor Emeritus. The renowned musicians of the CSO annually perform more than 150 concerts, most at Symphony Center in downtown Chicago and, in the summer, at the suburban Ravinia Festival. The CSO also appears in other U.S. cities, and each year tours internationally. Since its founding in 1891, the Orchestra has made 56 international tours, visiting 28 countries on five continents. At home and on tour, tickets are always in high demand and frequently sold out; occasional performances and rehearsals are free.

The CSO is part of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association (CSOA), which also includes the acclaimed Chicago Symphony Chorus; the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, a unique training orchestra; CSO Radio broadcasts and webcasts worldwide; and CSO Resound, a best-selling record label. Recordings by the CSO have won 62 Grammy Awards®. Through its Symphony Center Presents series, the CSOA offers dozens of performances each year by famous guest artists of jazz, pop, contemporary, world, and classical music. Through its Institute for Learning, Access, and Training, the CSOA offers a variety of youth, community and education programs, all of which are based on the concept of Citizen Musicianship, using and promoting the power of music to contribute to our culture, our communities, and the lives of others. Celebrated cellist Yo-Yo Ma is the CSOA’s Judson and Joyce Green Creative Consultant; Deborah F. Rutter, a highly regarded arts executive, is the CSOA’s president.

Tickets for all CSOA concerts be purchased by phone at 800‑223‑7114 or 312-294‑3000; online at, or at the Symphony Center box office: 220 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60604.

Discounted student tickets for select concerts can be purchased, subject to availability, online in advance or at the box office on the day of the concert. For group rates, please call 312-294-3040.

Artists, programs and prices are subject to change.

In the News: George Tillman, Jr. to be Honored at the Chicago International Film Festival’s Black Perspectives Tribute



Academy Award® and Grammy®-Winning Actress and Past Black Perspectives Honoree Jennifer Hudson Joins Tillman for Special Presentation of Codeblack Films’ The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete

The 49th Chicago International Film Festival (October 10-24, 2013) will honor writer, director and producer George Tillman, Jr. with a Career Achievement Award at the 17th Annual Black Perspectives Tribute Friday, October 11. The red carpet event starts at 6:00 pm at the AMC River East 21 (322 E. Illinois St.) and will be followed by a special presentation of Tillman’s latest film The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete. Codeblack Films, a Lionsgate (NYSE: LGF) company, will release the film in select theaters on October 11. Academy Award® and Grammy Award®-winning actress and singer Jennifer Hudson, who stars in the film, is scheduled to join Tillman on the red carpet and at the Tribute. An After-party at Altitude at the W Chicago Lake Shore Hotel will immediately follow the tribute and film presentation.

George Tillman, Jr.“As a producer, George Tillman, Jr. has played an important role in opening the doors of Hollywood to a new generation of African-American filmmakers and artists,” said Founder and Artistic Director of the Chicago International Film Festival Michael Kutza. “As a writer and director, Tillman has told funny, inspiring and heartbreaking stories that capture the energy and complexity of the African-American experience. We are pleased and honored to present him with this award and we are also delighted to welcome back past Black Perspectives honoree Jennifer Hudson to the Festival. Hudson shares Tillman’s deep love for this city. I am quite sure this evening will be special for both of them.”

Jennifer HudsonDirected by Tillman and written by Michael Starrbury, The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete stars Skylan Brooks, Ethan Dizon, Jennifer Hudson, Jordin Sparks, Anthony Mackie and Jeffrey Wright. Jana Edelbaum, Rachel Cohen, and Bob Teitel produced the film with Alicia Keys, Susan Lewis, Clay Floren, Aimee Shieh, Julio Depietro, Keith Kjarval, Mary Vernieu, and Amy Nauiokas executive producing. Wright, Hudson and Mackie are previous Black Perspectives honorees.

Skylan BrooksThe Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete is a beautifully observed and tremendously moving film about salvation through friendship and the way transformation sometimes can happen just by holding on long enough. During a sweltering summer in New York City, 13-year-old Mister’s (Skylan Brooks) hard-living mother (Jennifer Hudson) is apprehended by the police, leaving the boy and nine-year-old Pete (Ethan Dizon) alone to forage for food while dodging child protective services and the destructive scenarios of the Brooklyn projects. Faced with more than any child can be expected to bear, the resourceful Mister nevertheless feels he is an unstoppable force against seemingly unmovable obstacles. But what really keeps the pair in the survival game is much more Mister’s vulnerability than his larger-than-life attitude.

Columbia College Chicago graduate George Tillman, Jr. became inspired to make films on his own after seeing Cooley High and Taxi Driver. In 1994, Tillman wrote and directed his first feature film, Scenes for the Soul. Shot entirely in Chicago using local talent and resources, the film caught the attention of Doug McHenry and George Jackson who acquired it for Savoy Pictures for $1M. Following on the momentum of this success, Tillman began to write a script, loosely based on his own life – Soul FoodSoul Food’s cast included Vanessa Williams, Vivica A. Fox, Nia Long, Mekhi Phifer, Michael Beach, Irma P. Hall, and Brandon Hammond. Modestly budgeted at $7M, Soul Food opened to critical and financial success, grossing over $43M domestically. George's next directorial effort was Men of Honor, an epic story inspired by the life of Carl Brashear, a man who battled the obstacles of racism, a lack of education, and the loss of his leg to become the United States Navy's first African-American Master deep sea diver. The film grossed $85M worldwide.

With partner Bob Teitel, Tillman co-produced the MGM film, Barbershop. Starring Ice Cube, Anthony Anderson, Sean Patrick Thomas, Eve and Cedric the Entertainer, Barbershop opened to record-breaking box office success, spawning the sequel Barbershop 2: Back in Business and Beauty Shop starring Queen Latifah. Tillman returned to the director’s chair with Notorious – about the life and death story of the Notorious B.I.G. (a.k.a. Christopher Wallace), which was released by Fox Searchlight and grossed over $43M worldwide.  Most recently, Tillman directed Faster, starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Tillman resides with his family in Los Angeles.

An Academy Award®-winning actress, Grammy Award®-winning recording artist and best-selling author, Jennifer Hudson most recently finished production on Black Nativity, where she stars alongside Forrest Whitaker, Angela Bassett and Mary J. Blige. The film, directed by Kasi Lemmons, is based on Langston Hughes’ gospel musical re-telling of the Bible's nativity story and will be released by Fox Searchlight Pictures in November 2013. This fall will also see Hudson starring alongside Terrence Howard in Darrell Roodt’s Winnie Mandela, in which she plays the titular role of activist, politician and ex-wife to South African President and revolutionary Nelson Mandela. The film will be released by Image this September. In 2007, Hudson won an Academy Award® for her role as “Effie” in the smash hit Dreamgirls. Her breakout film performance also garnered a Golden Globe Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, a BAFTA and an NAACP Image Award.

Hudson has made the same kind of impact in the world of music that she has made in film with the successful release of both of her Arista Records albums. Her sophomore album, I Remember Me, debuted at No. 2 on Billboard’s Top 200 and R&B Albums charts and has since been certified RIAA Gold in the U.S. She went on to receive a 2012 Billboard Music Award nomination for Top R&B Album as well as taking home two 2012 NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Music Video and Outstanding Album. Hudson’s 2008 debut self-titled album won a Grammy® Award for “Best R & B Album,” which was presented by one of Hudson’s idols, Whitney Houston. The album then went on to win three awards at the 2009 NAACP Image Awards including “Best Album.”

Visit for film information & updates. Follow the social conversation at #MisterAndPete

About Black Perspectives
The Chicago International Film Festival’s Black Perspectives program was founded in 1997 in collaboration with legendary filmmaker Spike Lee. The program was created to showcase the talent of black filmmakers and to present films that break down barriers and shatter stereotypes. Past editions of the program have featured films by American luminaries such as Maya Angelou and Laurence Fishburne as well as the most recent works of African masters Djibril Diop Mambéty and Ousmane Sembene. The screenings are complemented by panel discussions and special screenings through our Education Outreach program. In addition to showcasing films that celebrate the depth and diversity of black cultures around the world, Black Perspectives has paid tribute to emerging and established film artists. The Black Perspectives Program is sponsored by State Farm and AARP.

Festival Passes and Theater Information
Festival Passes are on sale now. Pass options include:

Moviegoer (10 regular admissions): $95 for Cinema/Chicago members, $125 for non-members.
Passport (20 regular admissions): $180 for Cinema/Chicago members, $240 for non-members

Passes can be purchased online at

Individual tickets will be available to Cinema/Chicago members September 18-20. General public tickets will be on sale starting September 21.

Festival screenings will be held at the AMC River East 21 Theater (322 E. Illinois St.). The full schedule will be announced on September 17.

Festival Sponsors
Led by Presenting Partner Columbia College Chicago, the 49th Chicago International Film Festival's sponsors include: Official Airline - American Airlines; Headquarters Hotel - JW Marriott Chicago; Producing Partners: AMC Theaters, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; Major Partner: Intersites; Supporting Partners: DePaul University School of Cinema and Interactive Media, Stella Artois, Effen Vodka, WBBM Newsradio 105.9, Cultivate Studios; Participating Partners: State Farm, AARP, Tres Generaciones®, Comcast, Allstate, Spotlight Cinema Networks, Casale del Giglio, Second City Computers, Shutterbox Entertainment, Gibson’s Restaurant Group, Creative Technology.

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About Codeblack Films
Codeblack Films, a division of leading global entertainment company LIONSGATE®, is a vertically integrated film production and distribution company focused on providing independent studios, filmmakers, globally-recognized celebrities, intellectual property rights holders and brands cross platform monetization solutions. Entertainment industry veteran Jeff Clanagan founded Codeblack Films in 2012.  Codeblack Films’ core objective is to super serve the global Black community with quality programming and help its content and brand partners access the enormous spending power of the rapidly growing African-American consumer market. Codeblack Films' understanding of the social context of this fast evolving market -- values, attitudes, behavior and current and emerging trends -- provides the Company with a unique ability to position its content and brand partners in the center of influence.

Through parent company Lionsgate, Codeblack Films’ operational capabilities include motion picture production and distribution, strategic acquisitions, television programming and syndication, home entertainment distribution, digital distribution, new channel platform monetization and international distribution and sales.

About Cinema/Chicago
Cinema/Chicago is a not-for-profit cultural and educational organization dedicated to encouraging better understanding between cultures and to making a positive contribution to the art form of the moving image. The Chicago International Film Festival is part of the year-round programs presented by Cinema/Chicago, which also include the International Screenings Program (May-September), the Chicago International Television Competition (April), CineYouth Festival (May), Intercom Competition (October) and year-round Education Outreach and Member Screenings Program.

In the News: Herbie Hancock Quartet Opens 20th Anniversary Season of Symphony Center Presents Jazz Series!


Friday, October 11 at 8 p.m.

CHICAGO — With an illustrious career spanning five decades, pianist Herbie Hancock opens the Symphony Center Presents Jazz 20th anniversary celebration on Friday, October 11 at 8 p.m., making his first appearance at Symphony Center since 2010 and his first appearance on the Jazz series since 2004.

For this performance, Hancock performs as part of the Herbie Hancock Quartet, rounded out by guitarist Lionel Loueke, bassist James Genus, and drummer Vinnie Colaiuta. Joining the quartet for this performance is special guest Zakir Hussain, the classical tabla virtuoso. Two innovators in their respective genres, Hancock and Hussain have been frequent collaborators over the years; most recently, Hussain joined the Herbie Hancock quartet for a critically acclaimed South American tour earlier this year.

Herbie HancockHerbie Hancock is considered a true icon of modern music, celebrated throughout the world as a visionary performer who consistently expands the possibilities of musical thought. Hancock’s musical explorations have transcended limitations and genres and won him 14 Grammy Awards, including the 2008 Album of the Year for River: The Joni Letters and 2011 Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals for “Imagine” off of The Imagine Project. A classically trained pianist, Hancock performed at age 11 with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and he has influenced generations of jazz artists with his singular style, which he developed on such classic albums as 1965’s Maiden Voyage and through his work with the Miles Davis Quintet and his own bands, including Headhunters. Throughout his long career, Hancock has always pushed himself, alternating between acoustic jazz work with longtime associates such as Wayne Shorter and electronic projects, which now include performing with synthesizer and computer.

Zakir HussainZakir Hussain, percussionist and tabla virtuoso, is widely considered a chief architect of the contemporary world music movement, with many historic collaborations and recordings and performances with artists as diverse as George Harrison, Yo-Yo Ma, Joe Henderson, Van Morrison and the Kodo drummers among many others. The foremost disciple of his father, the legendary Ustad Allarakha, Hussain was a child prodigy who began his professional career at the age of 12 and had toured internationally with great success by the age of 18. He has been the recipient of many awards, grants and honors, including Grammy Awards in 1991 and 2009 for Best World Music Album for Planet Drum and Global Drum Project, both collaborations with Mickey Hart. His music and extraordinary contribution to the music world were honored in April 2009, with four widely-heralded and sold-out concerts in Carnegie Hall’s Perspectives series. Also in 2009, Hussain was named a Member in the Order of Arts and Letters by France’s Ministry of Culture and Communication.

Symphony Center Presents Jazz 20th Anniversary: The widely heralded Symphony Center Presents Jazz series has brought jazz’s most famous names and rising young stars to Chicago for almost two decades. In honor of its 20th anniversary season, the series salutes the past and future of the art form with 10 concerts that not only celebrate the unprecedented roster of legends and innovators who have graced the series throughout its history, but also showcase Chicago’s homegrown talent and debut artists.

Upcoming Jazz series concerts:

The Symphony Center Presents Jazz series is sponsored by BMO Harris Bank.

Complete program details follow:

Symphony Center Presents
Jazz Series

Friday, October 11, 2013, 8 p.m.
Herbie Hancock Quartet 
with Special Guest Zakir Hussain

Herbie Hancock, piano
Lionel Loueke, guitar
James Genus, bass
Vinnie Colaiuta, drums
Zakir Hussain, tabla

Tickets: $30–$134