In the News: Aretha Franklin Performs with the CSO


Tickets on sale today, February 14

Aretha FranklinThe League of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association celebrates the 24th annual Corporate Night on Monday, May 20 at 7:30 p.m. with special guest Aretha Franklin performing with members of the CSO, led by musical director Fred Nelson III. Known as “The Queen of Soul,” Aretha Franklin is one of the most respected and influential artists in all of American music with countless chart-topping hits such as “Respect,” “Natural Woman,” “I Say a Little Prayer,” “Chain of Fools,” “Baby, I Love You,” “Freeway of Love” and “A Rose is Still a Rose.” 

Known around the world by her first name and as the undisputed, reigning “Queen of Soul,” ARETHA FRANKLIN is peerless. She is one of the most influential and important voices in the history of American music, with a repertoire that spans pop, soul, jazz, rock, blues and gospel.  In 2009, Franklin was named the #1 Vocalist of All Time by Rolling Stone magazine. With her ever-distinctive, soulful, to-the-bone vocal style, she has graced music charts for nearly five decades and her live performances have touched the hearts of tens of millions since she began her musical journey in Detroit as a singing child prodigy. It is her rich legacy of recordings that are a testament to the power, majesty and genius of this one-of-a-kind artist of the first order. Aretha Franklin has earned countless international and national awards as well as accolades and global recognition on an unprecedented scale. She is a 2005 recipient of a Presidential Medal of Freedom honor (the U.S.A.’s highest civilian honor), presented by President George W. Bush, and in 1999, she was awarded the National Medal of Arts, presented by President Bill Clinton. She sang at the historic inauguration of President Barack Obama (2009) and at the inauguration of President Bill Clinton (1993). She also performed at the inaugural gala for President Jimmy Carter (1997). In 1968, she sang at the funeral of Martin Luther King, Jr.  She is the recipient of a Kennedy Center Honor; 18 Grammy® Awards, including Best Female R&B Vocal Performance for eight consecutive years, a Grammy® Legend Award, and a Grammy® Lifetime Achievement Award; five American Music Awards; and four NAACP Image Awards. In 1987, she was the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and in 1979, she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 2007, Franklin was honored at the Annual United Negro College Fund Evening of Stars and was presented with UNCF's Award of Excellence.  She was named 2008 MusiCares® Person of the Year by the Recording Academy, and she was presented with the prestigious NAACP Vanguard Award. In 2010, she was inducted into the Apollo Legends Hall of Fame at the Apollo Theater. In April 2012, Franklin received the TV Land Music Icon Award. In August 2012, Franklin was inducted into the Gospel Music Associations’ Hall of Fame. To date, she has received 12 honorary doctorate degrees.

A musical force in Chicago and around the world, the CHICAGO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA has been consistently hailed as one of the finest international orchestras since its founding in 1891. Riccardo Muti, one of the world’s most celebrated maestros, began his tenure as the 10th music director of the CSO in September 2010, and the eminent composer-conductor Pierre Boulez continues his service as Helen Regenstein Conductor Emeritus. In collaboration with renowned conductors and guest artists on the international music scene, the CSO performs well over 150 concerts each year at its home, Symphony Center, and in summer residency at the Ravinia Festival. With the launch of The Institute for Learning, Access, and Training, the CSO engages more than 200,000 Chicago-area residents annually. Music lovers outside Chicago enjoy the sounds of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra not only through its Chicago Symphony Orchestra Radio Broadcast Series and best-selling recordings on its acclaimed in-house record label CSO Resound, but also through sold-out tour performances in the United States and around the globe. Bank of America is the global sponsor of the CSO. For more information about the CSO, visit

Corporate Night pays special tribute to Chicago’s business community each year with a one-night-only performance that pairs musicians from the CSO with some of today’s most popular artists. Proceeds from this important fundraising event benefit the CSO’s general operations and nationally recognized community engagement and music education programs. 

Corporations can participate as sponsors or purchase tables for the evening, which includes an exclusive pre-concert dinner and prime seats for the special concert with Aretha Franklin. Sponsorships start at $25,000 and table packages range from $800 to $16,000. Notable corporate supporters to the event to date are Bank of America, ITW, United Airlines, PWC, Exelon, Northern Trust, Aon, Deloitte, Kirkland & Ellis LLP, Sidley Austin LLP, Nicor Gas, KPMG, and Ariel Investments. Corporations wishing to participate are asked to call Corporate Development at 312-294-3153.

Concert-only tickets are available to the public ($75 to $175); concertgoers can also purchase tickets for an exclusive post-concert party with food, drinks and live music for $100. Tickets go on sale today and are available by calling the CSO Box Office at 312-294-3000 or at

TICKETS for all 2012/13 Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Symphony Center Presents and Civic Orchestra of Chicago concerts can be purchased by calling CSO ticketing services at 312-294-3000 or 800-223-7114, online at or by visiting the Symphony Center box office at 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: Charles “Roc” Dutton brings "From Jail to Yale: Serving Time on Stage" to Chicago!

The Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts hosts:

 Charles Dutton’s From Jail to Yale: Serving Time on Stage

Two Performances Only to Benefit Chicago Youth Leadership Academy:  Wednesday and Thursday evenings, February 20 and 21, 2013

Charles “Roc” DuttonThree-time Emmy Award© winner Charles “Roc” Dutton brings his critically acclaimed, autobiographical, one-man stage play From Jail to Yale: Serving Time on Stage to Chicago for the first time for two performances only, at the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts Performance Hall at the University of Chicago, 915 E. 60th Street, Wednesday and Thursday, February 20 and 21, at 7:30 p.m.  The show tells the story of Dutton’s journey from prison in Baltimore to the Yale University Drama School to theatrical and television success. Best known for his role in the 1990s television series Roc, Dutton is also a highly accomplished stage and film actor and a director—having originated roles in multiple plays by August Wilson and, most recently, directed and starred in the 2012 film The Obama Effect and the upcoming movie Must Be the Music.

Proceeds from the performances will benefit the Chicago Youth Leadership Academy, a program that exposes youth from high-risk neighborhoods to college life through a collaborative effort of the Chicago Police Department’s 003rd and 007th Districts and the University of Chicago’s Office of Civic Engagement.

“The Chicago Youth Leadership Academy prepares young people in challenging situations to take advantage of educational and other opportunities that come their way, and it is one of the ways the University of Chicago partners with the city and with local organizations to help strengthen communities,” said Derek Douglas, the University’s Vice President for Civic Engagement. “We are honored that Charles Dutton has chosen to contribute his time and talent to bring his personal story to Chicago to support this program.”

Dutton became familiar with the CYLA during a visit to Chicago in 2012 while working on his satire, The Obama Effect. He noticed police officers leading students in the program on an outing around Hyde Park and approached the group. After learning more, he expressed a strong interest in helping support the program.

“It is a thrill to have such an esteemed actor recognize and identify with what we are trying to accomplish through the academy,” said 007th District Police Officer Charles O’Connor, director and co-founder of the program. “Over the past four years, more than 130 youth have benefited from CYLA, and we hope Charles Dutton’s support will help raise both awareness and additional support.”

Charles Dutton is a three-time Emmy Award-winning actor and director. While best known for his role in the television series Roc, he made his first mark on stage. He originated roles in critically acclaimed works by August Wilson, including Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (for which Dutton was nominated for a Tony Award©), Joe Turner’s Come and Gone and The Piano Lesson (for which he was also nominated for a Tony; he received Golden Globe and Emmy nominations for the television version). Dutton has appeared in more than 50 films, including Aliens 3, Cookie’s Fortune, A Time to Kill, Blind Faith, 10,000 Black Men Named George and The Murder of Mary Phagan. His critically acclaimed performance have garnered him several awards, including two Emmys and three NAACP Image Awards. He also won an Emmy for his directorial skills in the gripping HBO mini-series The Corner, which explored the ravaging effects of crack cocaine in his native Baltimore. Dutton’s latest projects include Must be the Music, a film about corruption in the music industry, and The Obama Effect, a satirical film about the 2008 U.S. presidential election. Dutton wrote, directed and starred in the movie.

The Chicago Youth Leadership Academy (CYLA) provides African-American youth in grades 8 - 12 with constructive alternatives to gangs, drugs, teen domestic violence, and other social and emotional issues facing low-income children and their families in high-risk neighborhoods. Through collaboration with the University of Chicago, CYLA students spend three weeks during the summer living in college dorms and utilizing campus facilities. The program targets Chicago Public School students who live within a five-mile radius of the University and focuses on helping them become mentally prepared for learning. The majority of the participants’ families live below the poverty level. The CYLA began in 2009 as a one-week pilot program serving 30 male youth. In 2012, 42 students, male and female, participated in the program. The CYLA is organizing the Dutton performances, with support from 003rd and 007th Districts of the Chicago Police Department and the University of Chicago’s Office of Civic Engagement, UChicago Medicine’s Urban Health Initiative, the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, and Court Theatre. 

Ticket information: Charles Dutton’s From Jail to Yale: Serving Time on Stage will be performed at the Logan Center for the Arts Performance Hall, 915 E. 60th Street, Wednesday and Thursday evenings, Feb. 20 and 21, at 7:30 p.m. to benefit the Chicago Youth Leadership Academy.  Tickets are priced at $10 (students) and $25 (adults).  A limited number of special $50 VIP tickets are available, offering priority seating and a post-show meet & greet reception with the actor.  Tickets may be purchased online at, at the Logan Center box office, or by calling 773.702.ARTS (2787).

SunSpots: Alex Cuba at City Winery!

reverse headshotCity Winery - Would You Like a Taste?



Located in the West Loop at 1200 West Randolph, City Winery opened in the summer of 2012 with an incredible line-up!  The venue is spacious and warm with seating in the dining room and in the performance space - where every seat is reserved, with dining available at your option!  Take a look at this video post for a taste of City Winery and Alex Cuba!

Screen Shot 2012-12-05 at 11.10.09 PM

To-DosLetter: Top 3 Retro Halloween To-Dos


Halloween isn't just for kids - there are plenty of ways adults can get in on the fun!  On our Seasonal page we have listings for haunted houses, costume parties and family events, but we're really excited about three ways to celebrate Halloween in Retro Style!

Music Box of Horrors - Friday, October 26th 

Music Box of HorrorsTo-Do!  Our monthly screening of this cult classic is never for the faint of heart.

Join us as we do the Time Warp again! Midnight Madness ensures that what's happening in the audience is just as entertaining as what is on screen.

For 35 years, The Rocky Horror Picture Show has delighted audiences and terrified parents. The Music Box Theatre is the proud Chicago home of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Every screening has a shadow-cast of the film (that's actors acting in front of the screen during the film), and the Halloween screenings are known to sell out!

Soleil's Take:  Oh - quit foolin'. You know you want to put on some ripped up fishnets, grab your toast and umbrella and join in the fun! 

Fright Fest Fiasco - Saturday, October 27th

Fright Fest FiascoTo-Do!  Remember going to Great America after prom? Remember the matching outfits? Remember riding the Eagle backwards? Remember getting excited when you saw the merry-go-round as you drove up from the parking lot? Remember the Demon, The Tidal Wave, the bumper cars, the Whizzer? Well the park has changed some but the fun has not!

So we will be reliving the magic of our teenage years and to add to it we will be going on the last night of Fright Fest! Never been to Fright Fest? You don't know what your missing! The entire park is decorated Halloween style, there are hundreds of people dressed up in their spookiest costumes, and at night it is like being in one great big haunted house, with roller coasters! There are special shows and games and booths and so much more. We are excited just talking about it!

Blacula: Young, Black & Undead - Wednesday,  October 31st 

BlaculaWhen Franklin Park discovers that the love of his life is dating an ancient African vampire, no one believes him, so he enlists the help of a strange vampire-slaying duo to help save the girl . . . and maybe even the world.

Inspired by the famous 1972 Blaxploitation film, Blacula is a tragicomedy with funk music that explores sexual politics and the enduring love of a man for a woman.

"Provocative and redemptive, this will be a theatrical event not to be missed" says playwright Reginald Edmund.

The Chicago production will be directed by Ilesa Duncan.

Miscellaneous Info:  Costumes encouraged!


More Halloween To-Dos!

Latino Art Beat Film: Visiting the Museum & The Mummy

"Magique" - Halloween & Masquerade Day Party

Hallowed Haunts

Holloween Bash

Boo! at the Zoo

Spooky Singalong Kids Concert

Halloween Magic 2

Mischief Night

Hallow's Eve Chicago Poetry Bordello

Black Magic Halloween Jam

Rocky Horror Picture Show vs. Beetlejuice

Dia de los Muertos

Dia de los Muertos Party


Ongoing Halloween To-Dos:

Spooky Science

Bengston's Pumpkin Fest

Dream Reapers Haunted House

Screams In the Park

HallowFest - A Garden of Good . . . and Evil!

Spooky Space at the Adler!

Brookfield Zoo's Creatures of the Night

Boo! at the Zoo

SunSpots: Anita Baker

Anita BakerNot a Comeback, but a Continuation!

Anita Baker's Rapture  album still brings back fond memories!  Her soulful ballads soothed many feelings and inspired romantic notions of what could one day be.  I think we all missed her when she left the biz to focus on her marriage and two young boys, but, recent touring by Anita has given us hope for her return.  Well, on October 23rd, Anita Baker will release Only Forever, her first album in eight years!  Already, the first single, Lately (a cover of Tyrese's song) is the biggest debut from this eight-time Grammy winner since 1994's Body & Soul.  I look forward to hearing what other delights this new album has to offer.

Anita BakerWhere has she been?  Though she took time to tend to her marriage and her growing boys, in 2007, Anita Baker's divorce from Walter Bridgforth - her husband of twenty years - commenced.  But, the  battle over division of royalties with Bridgforth dragged on for another 3-4 years.  Now, at 54, Anita is single, happy and open to a relationship that evolves organically.  It will be interesting to see how her status as a single woman with an empty nest has influenced the songs she's written for Lately.

Enjoy it while you can - this will likely be the last commercial album by Ms. Baker.  She is, however, interested in writing a gospel and a jazz album!

The lush landscape of Ravinia Park sets a lovely venue to see (or  hear, since reserved seats are sold out) Anita Baker perform on Saturday, August 25th.  Reserved seats are sold out, but lawn tickets are still available! View SunSpots: Simply Social with Buena Vista Social Club for more on the Ravinia Park experience!
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