For generations, Black music has been one of the foundational sources for liberation, survival, salvation, and entertainment. Gospel music has been one of the most integral and sacred forms of that music. It birthed a generation of storytellers, influential musicians, and agents of social change, such as Mahalia Jackson, Shirley Caesar, Kirk Franklin, and many others. The origins of gospel music lie in the transatlantic slave trade, as African musical traditions blended with new forms born out of the horrors of slavery. The rich lineage of gospel music began in earnest as a young man named Thomas Dorsey came to Chicago during the Great Migration. His own spiritual rebirth at Pilgrim Baptist Church in Chicago created a form of music that married blues influences with religious themes. Dorsey’s legacy ushered in a generation of Black artists who broke new ground by turning their voices of joy and pain into something powerful. Read more...
The Birth of Gospel
The episode follows “The Father of Gospel”, Thomas A. Dorsey, who wrote one of gospel’s early hits while coping with his grief over the death of his wife and child. It explores the roots of gospel from southern spirituals during slavery, through gospel’s early years.
Our Soldiers, Our Lady of Guadalupe
This is the story of pride and heartbreak in a close-knit South Side community. Our Lady of Guadalupe, Chicago’s first and oldest Mexican-American parish, lost 12 young men in the Vietnam War during a brutal five-year period.
The Union Stockyards
At the end of the 19th century, Chicago completely transformed the way Americans eat, and the Union Stockyards on the South Side were the center of that revolution. Experience the sights, sounds, and awful smells of the Union Stockyards and the complex of meat factories next to it, known as Packingtown.
The Real Mad Men of Chicago
You may not have heard of Albert Lasker, Eugene Kolkey, or Tom Burrell, but you most certainly know their creations. They’re Chicago’s Mad Men - the local executives who created iconic figures like the Marlboro Man, Charlie the Tuna, and the Pillsbury Dough Boy.
Chicago Stories recalls two very different disasters that occurred in the heart of Chicago’s Loop 90 years apart: First, the deadliest building fire in U.S. history: the 1903 Iroquois Theatre Fire.
As a woman once again occupies the fifth floor of City Hall, Chicago Stories remembers the city’s first female mayor. After pulling off one of Chicago’s greatest political upsets, Jane Byrne found herself caught between the political machine that shaped her and the reformers who elected her.
Chicago’s greatest cultural export just might be improvised theater — an art form that was devised by a woman named Viola Spolin — who wasn’t out for laughs.
Ida B. Wells
There are few Chicago historical figures whose life and work speak to the current moment more than Ida B. Wells, the 19th century investigative journalist, civil rights leader, and passionate suffragist.
The Great Chicago Fire
On October 10, 1871, Chicago awoke to an unrecognizable landscape: where 48 hours earlier there had been a vibrant city, now there was nothing but rubble stretched for miles on end.