Blues Alley

How Chicago became the blues capital of the world

The first Chicago Blues Festival was held in 1984. Today it draws hundreds of thousands of listeners and is the largest free blues festival in the world. (Courtesy of City of Chicago)

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Blues music—in all its derivations—is still active in Chicago, and it plays a significant role in the city's identity and self-promotion. With vast chapters of American music history under its belt, Chicago remains a place where blues can ferment and find a substantial, passionate audience. As Pointer-Jones says, "Blues in the beginning was not just a genre, but it was a culture."

Katy June-Friesen has written about the history of girl groups for


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