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‘Quantum Englewood’ looks back at 100 years of South Side music

By Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J.

The Old Town School of Folk Music (Old Town School) proudly presents “Quantum Englewood: A Journey Through 100 Years of South Side Musical History.” This presentation, composed by Ernest Dawkins  and Rahul Sharma, is a massive World Premiere performance that features hundreds of Chicago musicians and vocalists on stage. This is a free event to be held at the Lindblom Academy Auditorium, 6130 S. Wolcott Ave., on Saturday, September 15, at 8 p.m.

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ERNEST DAWKINS AND Rah- ul Sharma, in collaboration with the Old Town School of Music, present a 90-minute piece called “Quantum Engle- wood: A Journey Through 100 Years of South Side Musical History.”

In association with the Old Town School of Folk Music’s ‘Music Moves Chicago’ program, this 90-minute piece is the result of a two year-long learning process. “Quantum Englewood” seeks to uncover the unheralded traditions behind contemporary urban music and instruct an inter-generational corps of musicians in these roots and genres.

Among the talents to be featured are Live the Spirit Jazz Ensemble  and FUNKADESI, joined by the Soul Children Gospel Choir, Ben Lamar, Phenom & Poetree, Inc., Fernando Jones’ Blues Kids, Paul Cotton, Maggie Brown,  Foli Dambe,  Amyna Love, The Bucket Boys, Idy Ciss, Emcee Skool, Lindblom Acapella Choir, Artemis, and Brother El, plus Music Moves students and community members from Real Men’s Charity, Let Your Rhymes Inspire Creativity (LYRIC), and IGrow Chicago, plus Michael Miles and the Old Town School Fiddlers, and more.

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OF COURSE, NO South Side musical history event would be complete without a performance by one of Chicago’s legendary vocalists Maggie Brown, who continues the great artistry of her late father—celebrated poet, playwright and singer Oscar Brown, Jr.

“Quantum Englewood” is a family-friendly performance and is free and open to the public; advance reservations are recommended by visiting

The Old Town School’s ‘Music Moves Chicago’ program is an extended partnership with public health, social service and community development agencies in the Englewood neighborhood, explicitly using engagement in arts participation to achieve positive results for youth and their communities.  The piece gathers together a range of Chicago’s many youth-centered musical institutions, non-profit arts organizations, community choirs and faith-based groups, in a celebration of their common musical history. “Quantum Englewood’s” student performers rehearsed their parts in their individual locations, coming together for large rehearsals and performances at the end of the process.

“The richest history of music in Chicago in the last century had its roots on the South Side.  In fact, it is the origination point of almost all of the musical traditions that Chicago is most known for: Blues, Gospel, Hip Hop, and Jazz,” said Bau Graves, Old Town School Executive Director.  “A rich Diaspora of world music, particularly from West Africa and the Caribbean, all found its first Chicago home on the South Side, and all of this will be gloriously represented in “Quantum Englewood” by a multigenerational cast of hundreds.”

In addition to Old Town School and its ‘Music Moves Chicago’ initiative, sponsors include the Joyce Foundation, Art Works/NEA, DCASE and DCASE Year of Creative Youth, Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, Barbara & Kenneth Kaufman, and Don McLellan & Martina Keller. Support also comes from The Map Fund, which is primarily supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. Additional funds come from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

About Old Town School of Folk Music

Chicago’s Old Town School is the largest community school of the arts in the United States and a non-profit organization committed to celebrating American music and global cultures. Founded in 1957, the Old Town School provides a wide range of music, dance, theater and visual arts courses to people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds. Whatever one’s interest, the Old Town School provides broad access to more than 700 accredited weekly class offerings, private lessons and more than 400 concerts and community events per year.

The Old Town School of Folk Music opened its Lincoln Square facility in 1998 and expanded in 2012. It owns and operates three facilities situated in Lincoln Square and Lincoln Park that include 425-seat and two 150-seat concert halls, 64 classrooms, two music stores, a cafe and a resource center. Children’s classes are also held at several suburban satellite locations. More information is available at

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