Center for Black Music Research Public Sound Exhibition: FREE/PHASE

CHICAGO (April 2, 2015) — In recognition of recent Civil Rights anniversaries including that of the Emancipation Proclamation and the Selma/Montgomery marches, and in celebration of its own 30-plus years of service, the Center for Black Music Research (CBMR) has commissioned FREE/PHASE, an intermedia suite of sound-based public artworks by artists and composers Mendi and Keith Obadike April 6-9.

Based on the premise that black music provides a record of the desire for freedom and serves as inspiration for movements leading to that goal, each of the project’s three nodes will be a multidimensional and multi-sourced remix of songs about freedom that have been culled from the CBMR archives. As the artists describe their work:

  • Beacon: A Sound Installation – melodies from freedom songs will chime from the roof of the Chicago Cultural Center, like a beam from a lighthouse or a call to prayer
  • Overcome:A Video and Surround Sound Work – sounds recorded from the structure of the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama are used to reimagine the song “We Shall Overcome,” uniting a site and a song associated with a key moment in the Civil Rights Movement.
  • Dialogue with DJs: A Community Engagement Work – guided conversations about music and freedom with DJs and their in-depth knowledge of black music.

The three nodes taken together create a cultural arc—hope, struggle, and dialogue—that mirrors stages in African-American history.

All nodes can be experienced free of charge at the Chicago Cultural Center April 6-9.

WHEN: April 6-9
NOTE: The Beacon installation will chime from the Cultural Center’s east rooftop at 9:00 a.m., 12:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. each day

Chicago Cultural Center
78 E. Washington Ave.
Beacon: east rooftop at 9:00 a.m., 12:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. each day
Overcome: located at Claudia Cassidy Theater
Dialogue: located at Grand Army Rotunda

Participating artists:

Mendi and Keith Obadike
Ayana Contreras
Fathom DJ
Mike Ezebukwu
Perpetual Rebel
Rae Chardonnay
Sean Alvarez

Exhibition Contact:
Monica Hairston O’Connell, CBMR Executive Director,, 312.369.7561

For more information, visit:

Columbia College Chicagois an urban institution that offers innovative degree programs in the visual, performing, media and communication arts for nearly 10,000 students in 120 undergraduate and graduate programs. An arts and media college committed to a rigorous liberal arts curriculum, Columbia is dedicated to opportunity and excellence in higher education. For further information,


Media Contact:
Cara Birch, 312.369.8695,