Vivian Carter and James Bracken formed Vee-Jay Records in 1953 to produce the “good music” that listeners of Vivian’s radio broadcasts and customers of her record store in Gary, Indiana, wanted to hear. By “good music,” her audience—largely southern-born African American migrants to the Chicago region—didn’t mean classical or pop. They hungered for electric blues, […]
Remembering the quiet king of Chicago music promoters
Eddie Thomas was one of Chicago’s greatest music promoters, and he might’ve been the most humble. While his name is linked in more ways than one to Curtis Mayfield’s, throughout the 1960s and 1970s he guided myriad R&B and disco artists through the process of making records and getting them played. When I talked to […]
From soul sweetheart to blues bombshell
Holle Thee Maxwell’s long career has taken her through several genres and across the world—but it’s never made her a star.
Little-known Chicago blues-rock wizard Zach Prather has found his crowd in Europe
Thanks in part to a long partnership with the late Cash McCall, Prather has played with the likes of Willie Dixon, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, and Etta James.
The making of Chaka Khan
All kinds of Chicago music—AM radio pop, free-spirited R&B, bold Afrocentric jazz, soulful funk—came together to shape her incredible voice.
Deacon Jones cofounded the legendary Baby Huey & the Babysitters—and that was just for starters
Trumpeter and organist Deacon Jones played for Curtis Mayfield, Freddie King, and Carlos Santana, and spent 18 years with John Lee Hooker.
In Rotation: Ayana Contreras of Vocalo’s Reclaimed Soul on a softly stratospheric Andrew Hill LP
Current musical obsessions of Primeridian’s Simeon Viltz and Ayana Contreras of Vocalo’s Reclaimed Soul
A new CD reissue dusts off the legacy of Chicago soul legend Baby Huey.