Second Annual Chicago Peace Fellows Music Festival

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By Zeki Salah
Mutual Aid Collaborative Facilitator

The Chicago Peace Fellows held a Concert for Peace on June 4th, celebrating the artistic accomplishments of their communities and a shared commitment to improving their neighborhoods. The Second Annual Chicago Peace Fellows Music Festival was held at the Hatchery in Garfield Park with Peace Fellows gathering performers from across the city to play music, sing songs, read poetry, and dance. The Music Festival was organized by a committee within the Peace Fellows Mutual Aid Collaborative, a group of 60 Black and Brown leaders and committed allies who live and work in the communities they serve on the South and West sides.

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The event was made streamed live on the Goldin Institute’s Facebook page where you can watch the recording.

The Music Festival Committee is made up of musicians and educators that have first hand experience with the transformative power of music and its positive impact on communities. The committee pooled their connections to create a lineup with a diversity of talents that represented neighborhoods across the city. The Peace Fellows Music Committee is made up of Peace Fellow Alumni from across the cohorts of 2019, 2020 and 2021: Gloria Smith of the Black Star Project, Angelina Zayas of the GAP Center, Juliet Jones of the Original 64th Street Beach Drummers, Margaret Murphy-Webb of the South Side Jazz Coalition, Marvinetta Penn of Global Girls, Inc., Rashada Dawan of B.Fli Productions, and Robin Cline of Neighborspace.

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As musicians, artists, and educators, members of the committee had an eye for both talent and opportunity, bringing together talented members from their communities to perform. Many of the performers at the Peace Fellows Music Festival were young people for whom the festival provided an opportunity to gain experience performing, show off their talents, and be compensated for their time and effort. Additionally, by bringing together artists from across the city, the Peace Fellows Festival allowed for them to network with each other and collaborate in their artistic ventures.

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The Peace Fellows Music Festival featured an eclectic range of performances, including jazz, hip hop, and classical music, as well as spoken word poetry and choreographed dances. Finding talent for the Festival was a collaborative effort, with multiple organizations spreading the word and connecting talent to the festival.

Performers included:

The Festival was held at the Hatchery, a non-profit food and beverage incubator which provided the space for free. While the Hatchery primarily serves to provide professional development to people in the food services industry, both the Hatchery and the Peace Fellows involved in the Festival have a common goal of connecting underserved communities with access to education, opportunity, and community resources.

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The theme of peace was emphasized throughout the Festival as performers and organizers spoke to the importance of arts education, mutual aid, and community activism. Peace Fellows and their organizations were invited to set up tables and share information about their organizations for the first hour of the festival. This allowed for Fellows representing neighborhoods throughout Chicago to share resources with each other and network.

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As the concert came to a close, 2020 Chicago Peace Fellow, Maragret Murphy-Webb, spoke to the importance of investing in arts education. She emphasized that the arts have the capacity to improve communities and combat violence: “If you put an instrument in a child’s hands, you can keep a gun out of their hands.” She encouraged audience members to engage with the City of Chicago and request more funding for arts and education in the South and West Sides so that underserved neighborhoods might have greater access to educational opportunities.

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Through bringing together community members, providing them with opportunities, and affirming a collective commitment to peace through music and art, the Peace Fellows Music Festival sought to improve the communities represented by the Chicago Peace Fellows. Fellows’ commitment towards representing and improving their neighborhoods was pivotal to the Festival’s success.

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