The city of Chicago’s first Culver’s, located at 3355 South Martin Luther King Drive in the Bronzeville neighborhood, will mark ‘Black History Month’ this February with a Chicago Blues Museum exhibit that blends the cultural significance of the local community along with its historical roots to the music industry.
Culver’s owner Baron Waller has partnered with Chicago musician, historian, and Chicago Blues Museum CEO Gregg Parker, on displaying a Chicago Blues Museum exhibit, which celebrates the musical heritage and cultural legacy of Bronzeville. Mr. Waller was born on the west side and lived in Bronzeville later in life. Mr. Parker was born and raised in Bronze- ville and has performed throughout the world with some of the most famous musicians of our time.
As a most-fitting tribute to Black History Month, Culver’s guests will have the opportunity to explore the significant contributions from musicians, artists, and citizens to the fabric of the historic South Side district ‘s deep cultural history in blues, soul and jazz. “Although we’re not a location where you would expect to find a music exhibit of this kind, we felt it important to honor the legacy of the community we serve and all of those who helped stamp their place in Black history,” said Waller.
Photographs and memorabilia from the museum’s collections that currently adorn the walls at Culver’s document how the historic Bronzeville district served as a rich cultural incubator in the emergence of Chicago as a birthplace of electric blues, jazz and R&B music, shaping the evolution of American Popular music.
Museum images focus on Chicago musicians, entertainers, homegrown talent and famous residents. Artists including, Louis Armstrong, Dinah “The Queen of the Blues” Washington, B.B. King, and Muddy Waters have taken their place alongside popular Chicago-grown acts such as Nat King Cole, Sam Cooke, the Jackson 5 and famous WVON deejays.
“Bronzeville has been the heart of Chicago’s African-American community for a century,” noted Waller, who also owns Culver’s restaurants in south suburban New Lenox, Lockport and Joliet. “I’m excited to connect our guests to Bronzeville’s music and have the neighborhood’s early history reflected in the new restaurant. The exhibit will be both family friendly and historically educational for guests of all ages.”
Also adorning the walls are vintage photos from classic Bronzeville-area venues where this popular music originated and evolved including the Grand Terrace, Club DeLisa, and Regal Theatre.
“The Chicago Blues Museum is pleased to design a custom museum exhibit to be displayed at the new Culver’s of Bronzeville to share with local audiences” said Parker, who founded the Chicago Blues Museum in 1991. “I grew up in this neighborhood, as did Sam Cooke and many others. It is imperative to tell the story of this cultural district right here. In Cooke’s words we will “Bring it on Home”!”
Plans call for the museum exhibit to be up and running well past February, with a rotating schedule of new pieces of artwork and images. Live performances of blues music and is also scheduled during the summer, according to Waller.