An all-star line-up of Chicago natives and stars who got their start in the Windy City have come together for a new music video, performing the Blues anthem “Sweet Home Chicago.” Featuring an ensemble of more than 100 participants, all with deep ties to the Chicago arts scene, this star-studded celebration of Chicago will raise money for the Arts for Illinois Relief Fund, to help the many artists struggling in the wake of COVID-19 closures.
The impressive ensemble of participants in the virtual music video includes Emmy, Grammy and Tony Award-winners and features Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jim Belushi, Keegan-Michael Key, Jeff Perry, George Wendt, Joe Mantegna, Jessie Mueller, André De Shields, Alan Ruck, Rachel Barton Pine, Rhymefest, E. Faye Butler, Ramsey Lewis, Sandra Delgado, Jim Peterik, Lecy Goranson, Kurt Elling, Twista, Chef Rick Bayless, members of Joffrey Ballet, M.A.D.D. Rhythms Tap Dance Collective and many more.
The video is free to watch, but viewers are encouraged to donate to the Arts for Illinois Relief Fund.
The Arts for Illinois Relief Fund, a statewide program under Arts Alliance of Illinois, is a collaboration between the State of Illinois, the City of Chicago, and the broader philanthropic community, launched to provide immediate relief directly to individual artists and artisans, including stage and production crew members and part-time cultural workers, as well as art organizations, through grants to help those unable to work during this temporary shut-down. Since its launch on April 1, 2020, they have awarded more than $5,000,000 to more than 1,600 individual artists and institutions but due to the overwhelming response, there are still more than 7300 applicants awaiting funding, so raising additional funds is the current priority.
“I am incredibly grateful to the many artists, performers, and residents who lent their Chicago and Chicago-inspired voices to this absolutely heartwarming production of our hometown anthem and very worthy cause,” said Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. “If COVID-19 has shown us anything, it’s the nourishment and joy the arts brings to our lives, however, our artists have also been among most impacted by the fallout from this disease. Since its inception, the Arts for Illinois Relief Fund has served as a critical resource to help our arts community stay afloat during this crisis and – most importantly – allowed them to continue to do what they do best, which is create. I have no doubt that this wonderful video will inspire more lovers of Chicago culture to step up, chip in and help keep our arts community alive and well throughout this unprecedented event.”
“Having launched my career working in Chicago’s vibrant theatre scene, it was heartbreaking to watch COVID-19 bring it to a halt,” producer Jason Brett said. “Like so many people, I wanted to do something for the arts community, but felt helpless – until I realized there are so many wonderful artists who, like me, feel a deep and abiding connection to this city. My co-producers Scott, Matt, Mark and our music director Jesse Nolan, have worked with so many talented Chicagoans over the years, that it inspired us to reach out to the community to collaborate with us in making a fun, uplifting musical project to raise desperately needed funds to help keep artists alive. The response was overwhelming, and within weeks we had enlisted an amazing ensemble of creative artists, all thrilled to sing the praises of their “Sweet Home, Chicago”. That’s the spirit of ensemble that built the Chicago theater community. But even as the state and the city inch toward normalcy, it’s going to be a while before performers return to the stage and venues reopen. So our hope is that this video inspires a sense of pride and joy, and raises money to help the Chicago artists and theatre companies who are struggling most right now.”
The full list of artists in the video includes (in alphabetical order): Edson Barbosa, Bril Barrett, Rachel Barton Pine, Rick Bayless, Jim Belushi, Melanie Brezill, Time Brickey, Tristan Bruns, E. Faye Butler, Dara Cameron, Matt Cashdollar, Thomas Cavender, David Chiriboga, Shantel Cribbs, André De Shields, Sandra Delgado, Star Dixon, Michael A. Downs, Kurt Elling, Annie Ermel, Aubriel Fields, Felicia P. Fields, Annie Jo Fischer, Joshua Funk, Cindy Gold, Lecy Goranson, Monique Haley, Brad Hall, Charlie Hall, Henry Hall, Anne Harris, Bernard Johnson, Mark Kelly, Heidi Kettenring, Keegan-Michael Key, Nicole Kyoung-Mi Lambert, Ramsey Lewis, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Nikki Lynette, Courtney Mack, Mallory Maedke, Ezra Mahler, Michael Mahler, Joe Mantegna, Megon McDonough, Dan McGuinness, Anthony Mosely, Jessie Mueller, Jesse Nolan, Jeff Perry, Jim Peterik, Jessica Redish, Rhymefest, Maisie Rose, Alan Ruck, Larkin Ruck, Julia Rust, Amaris Sanchez, Martin Saunders, Colten Settle, KJ Sheldon, Christine Sherill, Raymond Smith, Paul Oakley Stovall, John Toney, Cyrus Tong, Jessica Tong, Twista, Trey Vavra, Sam Wagster, Michael Weber, George Wendt, Jayden Wilson, Bobbi Wilsyn, Ellen Winters, Elise Wolf and Jeff Wolfe.
Production credits include: Jason Brett (Producer), Scott Silberstein (Producer), Matt Hoffman (Producer & Video Editor), Mark Larson (Producer), Jesse Nolan (Musical Direction / Arrangement), Andrew Twiss (Audio Mixing) and Frayne Lewis and Kerry Sheehan (Consultants, Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events).
Please make your tax deductible contribution here: www.artsforillinois.org/sweethomechicago
Chicago Tribune: Music video for ‘Sweet Home Chicago’ starring everyone from Rhymefest to Jim Belushi to Julia Louis-Dreyfus is a Chicago producer’s fundraising idea
Playbill: Over 75 Artists, Including André De Shields, Jessie Mueller, and Keegan-Michael Key, Join Forces for Blues Anthem ‘Sweet Home Chicago’
broadway.com: Watch This Rollicking Performance of ‘Sweet Home, Chicago’, Featuring André De Shields, Jessie Mueller & More
Wgntv.com: All-star benefit video of ‘Sweet Home Chicago’ to raise money for Arts for Illinois Relief Fund
Broadworld.com: VIDEO: Jessie Mueller, Andre De Shields, and More Sing ‘Sweet Home Chicago’
Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers, musicians and corporations. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman. She stars in and served as Executive Producer for the short independent films Hide and Seek, Balancing Act, Rom-Com Gone Wrong, Belongingness and When the World was Young. She is also the Executive Producer for The Cactus, The Language Lesson, The Writer and Cream and 2 Shugahs.
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