Terry Hunter is a staple in the Chicago House Music Scene. He is the Grammy-nominated producer and owner of T’s Box Records and produces songs for some of the top artists in the industry. You can hear his sound on songs by Aretha Franklin, Jennifer Hudson, Jill Scott, Raheem Devaughn, Chantay Savage, Terisa Griffin and many more. A member of Chicago’s Chosen Few DJs, he is sought after around the world as a DJ and producer. Terry has several projects in the works, including House ‘N HD with Mike Dunn, Imagine No Music and Chosen Few Artist Management. I had a chance to talk with Terry about his latest event, Soul-Frica Sundays, a new weekly residence at Renaissance Bronzeville in Chicago.
Making your Sunday’s Great Again: A Conversation with Grammy Nominated Producer/DJ/Label Owner, Terry Hunter
Black Widow: What made you start a new residency again?
Terry Hunter: That’s a good question. We’ve been looking for a spot for a residency for a while. This opportunity presented itself when Renaissance had an opening for Sunday’s. They wanted a weekly event and presented it to Reggie Corner, who is one of my partners and promoters. Renaissance is the perfect fit for what we wanted to do and its location was exactly what we wanted. Renaissance has the right vibe and we really wanted to have this event on the Southside. The timing was right and the venue was right. It all just came together at the right time.
Black Widow: What is Soul-frica and where did the name come from?
Terry Hunter: Soul-Frica was something we originally came up with when we were doing BANG Sundays. Once a month, we wanted to combine the sounds of soulful house music, Tribal, Afro-Beats. At that time, especially, those sounds were really popular. Soul-Frica incorporates the soul of House Music; particularly Afro, Tribal, and soulful. Mike (Dunn) and I actually recorded a theme song for the night when we had BANG but unfortunately, but I suffered a flood in 2014 and lost the original master of it. We had “Soul-Frica” nights a few months until the Shrine Closed.
Black Widow: So this isn’t a BANG Sunday “Remix” huh?
Terry Hunter: No… not quite. Bang was something that was special and became what it was over time. I’m proud of what we created with Bang. It became known all around the world as a “go-to” spot on Sunday’s. Soul-Frica is an expansion of the brand. It’s different in that we are bringing a different experience to the south side of Chicago. Soulfrica is going to be a weekly party unlike any other on the south side. It’s not just African or Instrumentals, either. Its new stuff you haven’t heard before and its some older stuff that you may not be familiar with. The music is going to be diverse. It’s not going to be your typical classics or sing a long’s or anything like that. We want our audience to be open to the music we are going to be playing. It’s gonna be a night of really good music. I kinda dislike those labels. (Soulful, afro…etc.), at the end of the day it’s all good music and that’s what it’s all about.
Black Widow: Soul-frica at Renaissance reunites the Bang Duo that is Terry Hunter and Greg Winfield. Was this intentional because of the great history you two have together?
Terry Hunter: Oh Definitely. You know Greg is family and we work well together, we always have. Greg also has some projects coming out under T’s Box label, so he’s getting ready to do some different things as well that fit into the brand. What I love and appreciate about Greg is that he gets it. There are so many that don’t understand the importance of an opening DJ. They are the ones that set the tone for the event. Without that initial good vibe, there is no party. Greg comes in and does the job without any ego or attitude. He knows how to set the kind of tone that makes for a successful party. He understands his role on the team. This is a team effort and you really have to take ego out of it for it to work. That’s a part of what made BANG so successful. It was a team. That’s why we work well together. He understands what teamwork is all about.
Black Widow: You know these types of parties are important and a good look for the city. Why was it important to have this on the Southside?
Terry Hunter: The scene is very different. We don’t have as many clubs as before. Every time we do a new event, it’s important to me to represent Chicago and to do something that shines a positive light on the city. We created something special with BANG Sundays and we want to do the same with this brand as well.
Black Widow: I can’t tell you how many amazing memories I had at BANG Sundays. It wasn’t just the music. It was the people I met, the memories I had the artists I had a chance to see…I have some really great memories from BANG. I guess that’s why I’m excited about this new venture.
Terry Hunter: Yeah, that’s what we like to create, those types of musical experiences and good memories.
Black Widow: You travel all around the world and yet continue to have parties and events in the city on a regular basis. How do you balance enjoying international success but remaining true to your Chicago Roots?
Terry Hunter: It’s not a balance really. It’s just me and I love Chicago. I’m from the place that created this genre of music. I’m proud of that. I take Chicago with me everywhere I go. Chicago is in my blood. It influences everything I do. I am born and raised here; my family is here so anything I do is going to have Chicago infused in it. I can’t help that.
Black Widow: Your sound has evolved over the years. What do you say to those who say Chicago has lost its sound?
Terry Hunter: Yes my sound has evolved and it’s supposed to. I know more now then I did when I was in my teens and just starting out. My ear is better trained; I learned more about music, sound and technology. We all did. You are supposed to grow and evolve with the times. I shouldn’t sound the way I did 20+ years ago, I never understood that concept. I totally disagree with that. In the early days, the “Chicago Sound” was what it was because we created it. It was brand new and made by Chicago artists. It was new at the time. Everything a Chicago Artist creates is “Chicago Sound”! Anything I make “has Chicago sound” because that’s where I’m from and that’s the foundation of my influences. I loved the stuff I made then and I love what I make now but it’s all been part of my growth and evolution and it’s all Chicago! As I learned more, I experimented more with sounds and instrumentation that I loved. I love funk and soul music so I love using horns and percussions in music. It’s all Chicago sound, it’s just evolving and sometimes it’s hard for people to allow us to grow and develop because of the memories some of the older songs provide. I get that, but, I can’t stay creating music I created 20 years ago, no artist can and it’s unfair to expect that from them. We have to allow our artists to grow, learn, experiment and evolve. I just really disagree with that statement.
Black Widow: What can patrons expect on Sunday nights?
Terry Hunter: At the core, you can expect to hear some amazing music. You can expect to hear music you haven’t heard before. Hopefully you hear something and go out and support those artists that are creating something new and good sonically. You know I’m a stickler for sound. We are really going to elevate the sound so our patrons can hear the quality of the music in the best way possible. The same way we created a brand with BANG is what we intend to do with Soulfrica. It’s a good look for the city and a great look for the Southside of Chicago. I’m really excited about it.
Black Widow: Will you have guest DJs or any live acts?
Terry Hunter: Most definitely, of course, that’s what we do. We have some great things planned. Album releases, live acts, special guests and even international artists. Eventually all of that is going to happen but for now we are going to work on building this brand and experience.
Black Widow: Ideally what would you like this event to become?
Terry Hunter: Ideally, I want Soul-frica to become a staple that is internationally known as one of the best places to hear music on a Sunday Night. We were intentional with the time of the event as well. We wanted to be considerate of those who work or have kids too, which is why we are starting early. So if you have to leave to get ready for work or whatever, you can still get out and hear some music and we are open late for our die-hards! It starts at 7pm and goes on until 2am. We want everyone to have a chance to come out and hear some great music on a Sunday!
Black Widow: Looks like you are about to make my Sunday’s great again!
Terry Hunter: Yeah I like that!
*** Experience Soul-Frica Sunday's with DJs Terry Hunter and Greg Winfield starting October 15th at Renaissance Bronzeville, 4641 S. King Drive, Chicago IL***For More Information about Soulful Sunday's click here!
Until next time,
See you on a dance floor!