House music is “to Chicago what Gogo music is D.C,” according to international platinum recording artist and West Side native Chantay Savage.
House is currently a hot topic in pop culture as mainstream artists like Beyonce and Drake have released new songs inspired by the sound.
“I’m here for it,” Savage said of the genre’s reinvigorated presence in popular music. “We could use music that’s uplifting and inspiring right now. That’s what house is. I’m happy to see a light shining on that.”
Other house music folks are watching closely.
Terry Hunter, who recently hosted a listening party for his new house single “T.S.O.C (The Sound of Chicago),” can appreciate that artists are now exploring House, but he wants to make sure those artists know who originated the sound.
“Much love to ‘em, but we started this,” said Hunter. “That’s why I wanted to include my Chicago house icons on this new record.”
Savage is one of those icons featured on “T.S.O.C,” along with Common, Deon Cole, Mike Dunn, Jamie Principle, Coldhard of Crucial Conflict and AM7.
At the listening party hosted at Chemistry in Hyde Park, house music loyalists stood out from the crowd: a Black man who brought a tambourine so he could add an extra layer to the already pulsing music and a Black woman with a black head wrap and a flowing blouse with large rose print.
The two joined forces on the dance floor and at times a crowd gathered around them before dissipating, leaving the two on the dance floor to soak in the music all by themselves.
“They remind me of being back in the house clubs when I was younger,” said Savage, one of the dancing duo who used to live off of Chicago Avenue when she was younger.
“We were tight-knit,” she said. “Everyone knew their neighbors and looked out for each other. Greater Progressive Baptist Church is where I got my start in music. That’s where my gift was fostered.”
First, in the toddler choir then eventually becoming a minister of music by age 13, Savage said she knew she was destined to live a life as a musician even though her parents wanted her to pursue her education.
“I went to college for a few years pursuing a psychology major, but I just always knew music was going to be my path,” she said. “The summer of sophomore year, a friend of mine told me they needed writers at I.D Records. I got a job there and never went back to college and have done music ever since.”
Savage began writing hit records like “We Got a Love Thang” for Cece Peniston until executives at RCA noticed her voice. They were so impressed they gave Savage her first record deal.
Since then, she’s gone on to enjoy success as a songwriter, singer, and a House artist, and loves that the new generation of Black artists are exploring house music as well.
“House music is Black music and I feel that Black artists can explore any kind of Black music because it’s ours,” said Savage. “As long as they’re showing reverence and respect, I don’t see a problem with it. I don’t see it as bastardizing the music.”
Legendary house music artist and producer agrees.
“We’ve always seen hip-hop and pop artists in the house clubs,” he said. “It’s a gift and a curse. If they bring us along, then it’s a good thing, but if they act like they’re not [messing] with us, then it’s a bad thing. They have to include us in the reindeer games to show how real house music sounds and how it’s supposed to be.”
Hunter said that there’s no better time than now to release his new house single, which will be among a growing number of house records sure to come out this year.
“The timing couldn’t be more perfect and with all Chicago artists and house legends on the record, this can really bring it back to show to the world what the sound of Chicago is – it’s house,” said Hunter.