The Chicago I Love...a recap of the Chicago House Music Conference & Festival

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So much is said about Chicago in mainstream media.   It seems like every time you turn on the news there is nothing said about Chicago that is positive. It’s always the shootings, the violence, the poverty, etc.  I’ve lived here my entire life and one thing I know for sure is that there is nothing like #SummertimeChi!  Chicago is so much more than the one dimensional images you see on the news. This past weekend was a perfect example of how beautiful Chicago can be.  I attended the Chicago House Music Conference and Festival this weekend and was in awe at how beautiful my city and its people truly are.


Catering to DJs, musicians, artists, and industry professionals the House Music Conference included panel discussions on topics related to the culture, artistry and business of house music.  I made my way to the Chicago Cultural Center and attended some very informative workshops.  Hosted by First Lady Kris Hutchinson, my 1st workshop was “More than a Woman: Moving beyond the boundaries”. This workshop featured panelists, DJ Val, Lady D and La Spacer.  The panel discussed being a woman in the industry and ways women could enhance their brands, build their audience and the businesses without the stereotypical ways women are categorized in the industry.  Breaking out of patriarchal boxes and working with men in the industry instead of against them were some of points discussed.   From there I headed to Duane Powell’s workshop, “Anatomy of a Groove: House in borrowed space” with panelists, Robert Williams, Eric Williams, Rae Chardonnay and RFK Promotions where they discussed the changing club climate in Chicago and the lack of available spaces to host house parties and events.  The challenges of dealing with city politics when it comes to obtaining permits and licenses and how promoters are trying to overcome those challenges while still putting on quality events was the main topic of discussion.  

After that I headed to my favorite workshop of the evening, “Distributing and Licensing House Music in the Digital Age”.  Hosted by Jeff Craven from Large music, I found this workshop to be the most informative and helpful for me since I am a house music recording artist.  Learning how artists are paid via streaming sites and ways to increase an artist’s pay were the topics of discussion.  Other panel discussions included “Branding”, hosted by Vince Lawrence with panelists, Lewis Williams, Johnathan Hoffman and Cris Clark and “Deconstructed:  A look underneath the hood of a Modern House track”, with DJs/Producers, Terry Hunter, Ron Carroll and Hiroko Yamamura.

Each workshop and seminar was informative and offered great discussions on house music, the Chicago House music scene and ways to continue our history of creating incredible house music right here in Chicago.


Friday night, kicked off the first day of the festival. Held in the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, I enjoyed the sounds of 8FatFat8, a well-earned and much deserved award ceremony for Legendary Chicago artist, Chip E and an incredible, high energy show by “The Return of Mr. Ali featuring Carla Prather.  The night was a celebration of house music and a brilliant showcase of talent by Chicago House Music Artists, Carla Prather, Jon Pierce and Sheree Hicks. The audience grooved and danced under a moonlit sky on a perfect Chicago night. 


Day 2 of the Chicago House Music Festival began with a bang.  I needed roller blades to cover the events happening in each of the 5 tents throughout Millennium Park! There was so much to see and enjoy.  I started at the Chicago stage, enjoying DJs Dave Sabat, Mz. Nicky D’vine and FLX, and then headed to the Deep House stage to catch DJ Shannon Harris and Antonio Ocasio. I caught a bit of the Footwork Crew’s performance and the Movement Workshow with the Ayodele Drum and dance at the Fam Jam Stage and ended the festival at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion with The Group, Reel People and a closing set by DJ Gene Hunt! I was on the move most of the day! The music all day long was outstanding and showcased Chicago House music, artists and the culture brilliantly.   I was pleased to see so many Chicago based DJs and artists on the lineup.   Some of my favorite sets were by Mz. Nicky D’Vine, Shannon Harris and Gene Hunt.  Each of these DJs brought a little something extra to each of their sets that had the crowd dancing on a perfect Saturday afternoon!



The entire time I spent at the Festival, I noticed nothing but happy people. I saw the beauty of our city.  It was diverse with the audience filled with every race of people, young and old, gay and straight; partying and dancing together united by the music.    It was positive, there was no violence, no disruptions just peace and positivity in the heart of the city.  Towards the end of the evening I looked around at the lawn near the pavilion and saw kids dancing on the grass. They were so carefree and happy, the way our children are supposed to be. I smiled because this is the Chicago I love so much. This weekend was a beautiful reflection of who we are and what our city could be.  Music is the great unifier and it showed this weekend with the Chicago House Music Conference and Festival.  It was a great kickoff to a summer filled with events that showcase the best of our city. Mainstream media should cover more of this because our city is so much greater than what you see on the news and mainstream TV.

Until next time, see ya on a dance floor!

-Black Widow



Black Widow

D.Sanders, a Chicago native, is a devoted mother, blogger and writer who is passionate about her family, friends, women's rights, living authentically and telling her story.   She is also a spoken word recording artist under the name, Black Widow. She has been writing and blogging for over 15 years providing commentary and expressing thought on life, love and relationships. Her artistry can be heard on two house music singles, “Rough”, and “Gruv Me” released by Grammy Nominated Producer and CEO of T’s Box Records & T’s Crates, Terry Hunter under the production of Mike Dunn and Dee Jay Alicia. . Both singles reached #1 on Traxsource’s Afrohouse and charted top ten overall as well reaching the top ten in their year of release.  She splits her time blogging about the Chicago Dance Music Scene on and on her book’s website,  She is excited about her debut book, The Sum of Many Things, scheduled for release in June 2017.   She wears many hats but refuses to be placed in a box.  She believes that women are "The Sum of Many Things".  Embracing all of her roles as a woman, she firmly believes in breaking free of preconceived notions of womanhood.   She believes it is her mission to define her own life experience, femininity and sexuality and not have it defined by society.  She openly shares her story with hopes that women understand their worth, power and place in this world.