Billboard Hot 100 Artist Ella Mai Makes Chicago Debut as Headliner of Manifest

Columbia College Chicago student Charlie Curtis-Beard and the Weird Kids announced as opening act; City’s largest student-run day-long festival highlights include dance performances, DIY art making, original short films, food truck social, and more

CHICAGO (May 8, 2018)—Billboard Hot 100 artist Ella Mai makes her Chicago debut this Friday, May 11, at 6 p.m., as the headliner for Manifest, the city’s largest student-run arts festival. The London-born R&B singer-songwriter has released three critically acclaimed EPs (Time, Change, and Ready) and just completed the SweetSexySavage tour with Kehlani. Ella Mai’s current single “Boo’d Up” from her Ready EP is climbing the Billboard charts, with more than seven million views of its music video in the first week.

Opening for the headline performance on Friday night is graduating Columbia student Charlie Curtis-Beard and the Weird Kids, showcasing his original music that combines hip-hop with a splash of jazz. Columbia is one of the first schools in the nation to offer a formal Hip-Hop Studies minor.

Manifest runs from 12-9 p.m. on Friday, May 11. The festival presents more than 100 free public programs celebrating the creative work of more than 2,000 Columbia College students—from live music, dance, and theater, to fashion, visual art, and film. Events are centered along Columbia’s Wabash Arts Corridor in Chicago’s South Loop, with Wabash Avenue closed from 9th to 11th Streets. For more information and the most up-to-date festival programming, visit

Manifest festival highlights include:

Manifest Kick-Off Celebration
1-1:30 p.m. along Wabash Avenue between 9th and 11th Streets
Manifest begins with live music, performance art, and spectacle along Wabash Avenue, including this year's Manifest theme song winner, Chinaa, performing her original song “Royalty.”

Food Truck Social
1-6 p.m. along Wabash Avenue between 9th and 11th Streets
Grab a bite to eat between programs at some of Chicago’s most beloved food trucks, including The Fat Shallot, Piko Street, Happy Lobster, Beavers Donuts, Lucy's Classic American, Bombay Wraps, and Yum Dum.
Exploring the Politics of Identity: MFA Visual Art Exhibition
1-5 p.m. at the Glass Curtain Gallery, 1104 S. Wabash Ave., 1st Floor
In a wide-ranging and interactive exhibition that includes artists’ books, prints, textiles, sculptures, photography, sound, projections, and installation works, graduating MFA students explore themes of identity both national and international, personal, and political.
We Own It: Original Short Films
1:30-3 p.m. at 1104 S. Wabash Ave., 8th Floor
See future film industry leaders at this showcase of advanced short films made by graduating students in Cinema and Television Arts, with genres ranging from documentary and drama, to experimental and animation.
Art Making at the Pop-Up Lounge
1-7 p.m. at 900 S. Wabash Ave.
Hit the Manifest pop-up lounge for a variety of DIY art projects, hands-on games, and gourmet ice cream bars from Gordo’s.
Live Music Performances
2-3:30 p.m. at 33 E. Congress, Room 210
The top music ensembles at Columbia will perform in stylistically diverse genres ranging from R&B, Pop, and Rock, to Jazz, Gospel, and Fusion. Original student compositions will be featured. Headlining bands include Oby and Human Bloom, which feature Columbia alumni.
Musical Theater Showcase
2-3:15 p.m. at the Courtyard Theater, 72 E. 11th St.
Graduating musical theater powerhouses show their stuff in this cabaret-style showcase from popular musicals. Join us and be dazzled!

Choreographer Showcase
4:15-4:45 p.m. at the Courtyard Theater, 72 E. 11th St.
Original dance choreography from graduating students, performed by students across genres.
Charlie Curtis-Beard and the Weird Kids
5-5:30 p.m. at the Manifest main stage, corner of Wabash Ave., and 11th St.
Columbia junior Charlie Curtis-Beard and his band showcase his original neo-soul music that combines hip-hop with a splash of jazz. His latest EP Existentialism on Lake Shore Drive is available for a listen here.


About Columbia College Chicago
Columbia College Chicago is a private, nonprofit college offering a distinctive curriculum that blends creative and media arts, liberal arts, and business for nearly 7,500 students in more than 100 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Dedicated to academic excellence and long-term career success, Columbia College Chicago creates a dynamic, challenging, and collaborative space for students who experience the world through a creative lens. For more information, visit
About the Wabash Arts Corridor
The Wabash Arts Corridor (WAC) is Chicago’s “living urban canvas.” Founded in 2013 and led by Columbia College Chicago, the WAC is one of the city’s major cultural assets comprised of eight educational institutions, 19 galleries, 14 performance spaces, five major hotels, and more than 40 restaurants. Connecting local businesses and commerce with education, cultural programming, and the visual, performing, and media arts, the WAC is an urban lab for creative expression, innovation and excellence in the arts. For more information, please visit


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