Jamila Woods Credit: Lawrence Agyei

In November, Chicago poet, teacher, and singer-songwriter Jamila Woods performed her 2016 debut album, Heavn, at the Harold Washington Cultural Center in Grand Boulevard. She brought in dozens of collaborators, including a youth choir, a small troupe of dancers, and a backing band. Several prominent young local poets of color, including Tasha, E’mon Lauren, and Eve Ewing, recited their work during interludes. The night paid tribute to contemporary Black Chicago and celebrated the joy its community can create. Heavn’s rich, layered instrumentation blends R&B, soul, and hip-hop with a similarly joyous energy, and that aesthetic remains—albeit with a starker, more synthetic feel—on Woods’s new second album, Legacy! Legacy! (Jagjaguwar/Closed Sessions). The album’s minimalist sound reflects a subtle shift in Woods’s focus. While she continues to celebrate people of color who’ve provided her with the tools, perspective, and inspiration to develop her own voice—this time by name—she delves deeper into what it means to build her own path, both for her and for those following after. And tracks such as the effervescent “Octavia” (named after science fiction writer Octavia Butler) and the boogie-flecked “Frida” (Frida Kahlo) are irresistible enough to guarantee Woods a spot in the canon of contemporary greats.   v