Illinois still rocking after 200 years

Illinois is the fifth most populous state in America. It’s also the largest producer of pumpkins, the center of commerce in America, the birthplace of the Cubs and one of the most diverse states in America.

This year, it’s special; Illinois is turning 200. And what is a birthday celebration without some music? Fortunately, our state has a rich tradition of it to draw from.

Illinois has created many musical powerhouses as a gift to the country. Pioneering blues and jazz musicians include Benny Goodman and Muddy Waters, who evolved their respective genres to give Illinois a distinct and unmistakable sound. The list of “soft soul” singers is even longer, with acts like Earth, Wind and Fire, Chaka Khan, Curtis Mayfield and Lou Rawls. Rappers from Illinois include Chance the Rapper, Common, Chief Keef and the controversial Kanye West.

So far, the biggest music scene to come out of Illinois is the rock scene. Bands like REO Speedwagon, Styx, Survivor and Cheap Trick dominated the 80s. Alternative rock was heavily influenced by lllinois’ contribution to music, producing The Smashing Pumpkins, Urge Overkill, Veruca Salt, Kill Hannah and Material Issue. Newer bands of this genre include Disturbed, Fall Out Boy, Chevelle, Neko Case, The Plain White T’s, OK Go, Rise Against and McHenry County’s Alkaline Trio. Illinois also hosts major music events like Lollapalooza, Pitchfork Music Festival and Riot Fest.

Cary-Grove has contributed its part to the state’s culture, too. Famous alumni include Evan Dollard of American Gladiators fame and Paul Wertico, former drummer of the Pat Metheny Group and winner of seven Grammy Awards. CG also hosts our esteemed choir and band departments and includes members of local bands like Green Easter and Triguna.

If you’re looking to hear the best of what Illinois has to offer, check out this Spotify playlist: