Stories by Angel Idowu

Beatboxer Finds New Sound in Opera by Chicago Composer

Nicole Paris, left, and Augusta Read Thomas speak with WTTW News about the making of “Sweet Potato Kicks the Sun.”

For years, beatboxer Nicole Paris and her dad Ed Cage have awed audiences with their beatboxing battles as Nicole and Popz. Paris recently broke from that duet to take on a feat of her own: beatboxing in an opera.

Passion for Design Leads to Career in Handmade Leather Goods

Yohance James Lacour

A Chicago leather craftsman is wrapping up his first year as an entrepreneur creating leather products in the form of shoes, bags and even greeting cards. 

Chicago Dance Companies Unite for Black Dance Legacy Project

Dancers Tracey Hodgkin-Valcy and Merrick Mitchell rehearse a duet for “Lineage: The Black Dance Legacy Project.” (WTTW News)

Eight of the city’s most prominent dance companies are coming together for a one-night-only concert this week with a single mission: to celebrate the legacy of black dance in Chicago.

Inside Nevermore Park, Hebru Brantley’s New Immersive Experience

Chicago artist Hebru Brantley speaks with “Chicago Tonight.” (WTTW News)

Chicago artist Hebru Brantley has created works for some of Hollywood’s biggest names, and now he’s bringing some of that work home. We explore his new exhibit, Nevermore Park.

Gumball Machine Pays Tribute to Art-O-Mat With a Poetic Twist

If you spent any time as a child at the Chicago Cultural Center, you might remember the Art-o-mat machine that dispensed a piece of art in exchange for two tokens. That same machine has inspired a new concept for storytelling through poetry.

Chicago Sinfonietta Celebrates Diwali, the Festival of Lights

The nation’s most diverse orchestra is working to push the boundaries of how classical music is presented by incorporating dance into its next concert.

‘American Medina’ Shares Personal Stories of Muslim Chicagoans

A new exhibit at the Chicago History Museum highlights the experiences of Muslims in Chicago through audio interviews, photographs, videos, artwork, maps and everyday objects. We go for a look.

Front Lawn Art Installations Pay Tribute to Late Chicago Artist

Late Chicago artist Sabina Ott created the nonprofit Terrain Biennial, a public art event that invites participants to display site-specific exhibits in their front yard. 

Cathy Marston’s Adaptation of ‘Jane Eyre’ Heads to the Joffrey Ballet

In “Jane Eyre,” Cathy Marston said she creates movement based on quotes taken directly from Charlotte Bronte’s 19th century novel. 

Native American Jewelry Tells ‘Stunning Stories’ of Indigenous People

At the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian, more than 80 pieces of Native American jewelry reveal cultural history and spiritual beliefs. How this wearable art helps preserve indigenous stories.

Free Art Collections at CPS Based on Unique ‘Art Subscription’ Model

Nearly two dozen Chicago Public Schools have received free art collections since the beginning of the school year. How a local nonprofit is able to provide these collections with the help of its “art subscription” concept. 

Riccardo Muti Leads Community Rehearsal with Chicago West Community Music Center

A community music rehearsal with the Chicago West Community Music Center and Riccardo Muti at the Columbus Park Refectory. (Photo by Todd Rosenberg)

Young musicians and a singer from the Chicago West Community Music Center get a chance to rehearse with Maestro Riccardo Muti, music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

Mobile Museum Stops in Chicago to Preserve Family Histories

The Smithsonian makes a stop in Chicago with its museum on wheels, aiming to bridge the digital divide. We give you a tour.

A Shipping Container Gets New Life as Lawndale Pop-Up Spot

Jonathan Kelly, co-founder of the Lawndale Pop-Up Spot. (WTTW News)

How some West Side residents are hoping to change the narrative of their community with a new safe space in the form of a museum.

High School Bands Ready for Battle at Chicago Football Classic

The Chicago Football Classic brings historically black colleges and universities to Solider Field for a football game – and so much more. We introduce you to two of the schools competing in a battle of the bands.

‘The Founders’ Art Project Connects Communities Along CTA Green Line

An interpretation of Chicago’s founders has been floating across the city in an effort to connect communities from Austin to Englewood. We explore the Floating Museum’s Cultural Transit Assembly.

Grammy-Winning Guitarist Isaiah Sharkey on John Mayer Tour, Family Legacy

Isaiah Sharkey

He’s been playing the guitar for as long as he can remember. The musical journey that’s led Isaiah Sharkey to share the stage with some of the world’s most prominent stars.

African Festival of the Arts Celebrates 30th Anniversary This Labor Day Weekend

From left: Festival founder Patrick Saingbey-Woodtor, photographer Sonja Hughes, quilter Susan Trice, photographer Kaye Cooksey and collector Diarra Diaby. (Angel Idowu / WTTW News)

“Africa is here and it’s a good thing,” says Patrick Saingbey-Woodtor, founder of Chicago’s African Festival of the Arts, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this weekend in Washington Park.

Chicago Police Recruits Test Their Acting Skills in Empathy Workshop

A police recruit speaks with WTTW News about an empathy workshop hosted by Storycatchers Theatre.

How a role-playing workshop hosted by Storycatchers Theatre is taking a new approach to improving the relationship between first responders and the communities they patrol.

eta Creative Arts Foundation names new CEO: Kai EL’Zabar

(Courtesy of Kai EL’Zabar)

The Chicago theater company has announced Kai EL’Zabar as its third CEO/ executive director. The 48-year-old media maven says while working in theater is new for her, she has been grounded in the arts all of her life. 

How Keanon Kyles’ Voice, Determination Led Him to Carnegie Hall

Chicago opera singer Keanon Kyles speaks with WTTW News.

A local opera singer shares his journey through music, starting with the Chicago Children’s Choir.

DJ Booth at 95th Red Line Station Offers More Than Free Music

DJ Ayana Contreras at the 95th Street Red Line CTA station. (WTTW News)

“Music is unifying.” That’s according to a local DJ who spends her Monday mornings bringing music to the corridors of the newly remodeled CTA 95th Red Line station. We go for a look – and a listen.

Beyond Good Books, Semicolon Bookstore Aims for Sense of Community

Danielle Mullen, owner of Semicolon Bookstore. (WTTW News)

As a writer, publisher and general lover of literature, opening a bookstore was never in the plans for Danielle Mullen. But when faced with a tumor, she was forced to answer a question she hadn’t thought much about: her own legacy.

For 20 Years, Music Center a ‘Beacon of Hope’ on Chicago’s West Side

A Chicago youth orchestra is playing tribute to some of the greats in a summer music concert series. We catch up with the Chicago West Community Music Center.

Chalk Artist Nate Baranowski is Transforming Chicago Sidewalks

We hit the streets to check out some 3D art that might catch you by surprise if you don’t watch where you’re going.

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