Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Chicago History in Song by the History Singers

Kathryn and John Atwood at Thomas Ford
Chicago has a dramatic history, only some of which has been commemorated in song. Kathryn and John Atwood of the History Singers have found major historical subjects that have no surviving songs to sing to later generations. Among the stories unsung were the Haymarket Riot, the sinking of the Eastland, and the eviction of the Potawatomi Indians from the region. Being devoted folksingers, they have written their own pieces which they debuted at the Thomas Ford Memorial Library on February 21 for one of our Elmer Kennedy History Lectures.

Kathryn and John added their songs to others they have collected for a new program they call Chicago History in Song. They started with an old favorite called "El-A-Noy" which was used to promote the selling and settling of the state in the 1830s and ended with the blues classic "Sweet Home Chicago." In between, they sang about the Chicago Fire of 1871, the First Ward rule of Bathhouse John Coughlin, and the woe of the Chicago Cubs, as well as the three subjects in the first paragraph above. They introduce each song with a bit of history to explain its significance.

If we had a house band at Thomas Ford Memorial Library, it would be the History Singers, who have presented at least a half dozen of their programs as our history lectures or for our Friday at the Ford coffeehouse. Kathryn and John are always warm, friendly, and entertaining, and they always have some new or forgotten songs to share. We have enjoyed debuting their latest offering.

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