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CCC spreads joyous message via virtual concert

Annual free citywide celebration moves from Millennium Park to livestream Thursday, May 21

For 10 years, the beloved Chicago Children’s Choir, the nationally recognized non-profit organization that inspires youth to become global citizens through music, has hosted its popular free “Paint the Town Red” concert celebration at Millennium Park, featuring some 5,000 young singers from all Chicago zip codes, alongside special guest artists.

A celebration of Chicago’s resilient city of champions, this year’s “Paint the Town Red” concert will go on, bigger and broader than ever, via a free livestream Thursday, May 21, from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. Chicago time. All are invited to tune in via the Chicago Children’s Choir website at as well as on the Choir’s YouTube and Facebook channels.

The lively program for all ages will feature newly recorded Chicago Children’s Choir virtual videos along with concert footage from popular past “Paint the Town Red” and Black History Month Choir performances. Selections range from Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready” and Queen’s “We Will Rock You” to a powerful unifying song titled “I Need You To Survive,” paying tribute to the City’s essential workers. Viewers are invited to sing along, as lyrics to select songs will be featured on screen.

Plus, adding their own voices will be inspiring appearances by special guests: the Honorable Mayor Lori Lightfoot and First Lady Amy Eshleman, Grammy® Award-winning artist Chance the Rapper, Oscar®- and Grammy Award-winning artist Common, Grammy Award-winning jazz singer Kurt Elling, Grammy Award-winning music director and producer Peter CottonTale, and more. The concert will conclude with “We Shall Overcome” at 8:00 p.m., in tandem with the country’s nightly #Solidarityat8 program encouraging the public to sing, applaud and flash their house lights in a show of support for front line workers. 

CCC currently serves some 5,000 students from all zip codes via 92 in-school programs and 11 after-school neighborhood choirs. “Paint the Town Red” will represent these choirs in addition to Chicago Children’s Choir’s signature Voice of Chicago, its premiere mixed voice ensemble, and Dimension, an ensemble for young men.

“This would have been our tenth year painting the town red in Millennium Park with our signature polo shirts and the hearts of thousands of Chicago youth. The goal of this reimagined concert is to spread hope and express gratitude during this challenging time. The global community is united in our current shared experience, and we look forward to welcoming audiences from all over the world, including our friends from Italy and Spain, to this virtual performance,” said Josephine Lee, Chicago Children’s Choir President and Artistic Director.

“Paint the Town Red” was originally set to kick off the now-postponed “Chicago In Tune,” a new 18-day, citywide celebration of music that was to be a signature program of the Year of Chicago Music. The Chicago Children’s Choir looks forward to being a part of those events when they are rescheduled and is grateful for the support of the City of Chicago.

“The Chicago Children’s Choir is an invaluable member of Chicago’s music education community, providing youth from all over the city with the opportunity to connect with each other, learn and perform under the direction of Josephine Lee and a team of passionate, professional conductors. And while we can’t gather in Millennium Park’s magnificent Pritzker Pavilion to launch ‘Chicago In Tune,’ [we are] hoping families will ‘Tune In’ to this joyful celebration of young voices,” added Mark Kelly, Commissioner, City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. 

CCC has impacted the lives of more than 50,000 diverse youth throughout its 62-year history. Since its founding, CCC has focused on building programs that reflect the racial and economic diversity of Chicago. Eighty percent of youth served are from low-moderate income homes, with over 4,000 students annually participating completely free of charge. All singers in CCC programs receive some level of subsidy.

“Paint the Town Red” is supported by the City of Chicago. Voice of Chicago is presented by Allstate. In addition, Chicago Children’s Choir thanks the following lead partners: Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, CIBC, The Crown Family, Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Polk Bros. Foundation, The Wege Foundation and William Blair & Company.

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