The #DOWNNOW Project is my original journalism/storytelling and music series, conceived in Summer 2020 through my Chicago Music Ambassador role. Promoting the “Year of Chicago Music” began to feel increasingly tone deaf and out-of-sync during a crucial election cycle, the disruptive arrival of COVID-19, intense social upheaval for racial justice, and the convergence thereof.
The pandemic ultimately forced The City to suspend its celebrations, but The #DOWNNOW Project —as in, “It’s goin’ down now!” and “Are you down now?”— had already occurred to me as a way to continue showcasing Chicago music, while conscientiously addressing current times and issues.
The project has since been recognized and awarded by NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC —click “Chicago” on this NAT GEO Project Map— and Chicago DCASE (through The City’s “Arts 77” plan). Logo tee shirts and face masks are available in the #ASCbrand store.
The project will present stories of healing and activism, and create movement anthems. My inspirations are the legendary Studs Terkel (a primary influence as a broadcaster/interviewer and social/cultural critic), and Chicago’s rich history of Black music activism (exemplified by iconic artists like Curtis Mayfield, Oscar Brown Jr., and The Staple Singers).