Darlene Sandifer

Chicago West Community Music Center continues to honor the legacy of African Americans musical legends by hosting concerts featuring local stars of today.

CWCMC has showcased its on-going series, “A Tribute to The Legends (The Story Continues),” for the past two summers. In the past,the showcase illumined the careers of Nancy Wilson, Ashford & Simpson, Aretha Franklin, Lou Rawls, Nat King Cole and many more. Each summer CWCMC features five concerts beginning in May and concluding in September.

CWCMC is a nonprofit organization that aims to develop personal and educational growth within West Side youth by educating and training them in the arts. The organization’s goal is to make sustainable improvements to numerous problems facing the community.

CWCMC Managing Director Darlene Sandifer said the free concerts have been well received. She explained the concerts, currently held at Columbus Park Refectory, give residents access to live music and culture within their own neighborhoods.

“It allows us to have concerts within our community that are within walking distance for people so they don’t have to travel to Ravinia or the other locations,” said Sandifer.

CWCMC will introduced Deonte Baker, an aspiring young singer, in a performance on August 19. Baker was in CWCMC’s high school program and has since interned with the nonprofit for the past four years. He works with the organization as a vocal coach to high school students.

“We’re introducing a young man who was a sophomore in high school and he’s been with our program in an after-school setting, where he has learned a lot about music,” said Sandifer. “He’s been working with the executive director [Howard Sandifer] on his vocal skills.”

Sandifer said next month’s performance, “Paris Noir: African Americans in the City of Lights,” will take place on Friday, Sept. 23. The performance will mark the end of CWCMC’s three years of funding with The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation. She said that CWCMC will apply for additional funding in September through The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, but noted CWCMC has several sponsors and financial contributors.

Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Executive Assistant Amy Domagalski told Austin Weekly News that the Foundation gave CWCMC three years of funding totaling $30,500 through its arts and culture grants division. Domagalski was unable to comment specifically on CWCMC, but instead gave a statement of support to all organizations receiving funding.

“We are proud of the work of all of the arts and culture organizations that we support throughout the city,” said Domagalski in an email statement.

Domagalski said the foundation evaluates potential benefactors based on the quality of the organization’s artistic programming, the strength of its financial management and evidence of good planning and the strength of the board and staff leadership, among other factors.

CWMCW has a long standing partnership with the Chicago Park District as an Arts Partner in Residence at Garfield Park dating back to 2006. According to Chicago Park District Assistant Press Secretary Irene Tostado, CWMCW was one of 120 applicants selected out of 200 vying to take part in the 2016 season of Nights Out in the Park event series.

She said CWMCW was awarded $5,000 to present two concert series of which “A Tribute to The Legends” was one. As an Arts Partner in Residence, CWMCW provides free year-round public programming to the neighborhood in exchange for free use of park space.