Voices of Old Chicago project update

From Jamie O’Reilly
January. 2023

Here’s an update on the Voices of Old Chicago project.

We had a very successful Roots Salon on Sunday, with a gifted group of writers reading their work and the work of others and I sang with pianist John Erickson. Several guests were there for the first time, and want to attend more Salons.

To attend a Roots Salon is to see the 120 year old family tradition at play. Read about the parlor tradition here: https://www.jamieoreilly.com/2halcyon-daze-songs-in-the-parlor-jamie-revives-a-vocal-tradition/

Watch Jamie’s Roots in Ireland video, that shares the initial inspiration for this project: https://www.jamieoreilly.com/videos/jamie-oreilly-roots-in-ireland-a-video-a-musical-journey/

L to R: Jamie and Winifred, Orchestra Hall 1984; Iwona Biedermann photo, 2019;
The O’Reillys on Evergreen St, early 1900s

Nell, Great Grandmother Mary Ann, Mame (back) Tex, Grandfather James

Working here for over 40 years, I have the moniker of A Voice for the Soul of the City, and am now in the position to give our rich O’Reilly family legacy its due! Chicago in the early 1900s was a vital time and our relations Dottie, Tuck, Nell, Tex and Mame were a significant part of it!

From Parlor to Print: Voice of Old Chicago, also focuses on the roots of the vocal tradition and how it led to the singer/activist I am today. https://www.jamieoreilly.com/projects/in-old-chicago-songs-stories-of-a-beloved-city/

Jamie O’Reilly & the Rogues
Listen to “She Would Sing the Kerry Dances

Read Mame O’Reilly’s White Fire letter to Dorothy about the legacy.

It seems to me that I have been waiting not years, not a lifetime, but all those lifetimes for someone to take the white fire and carry it on. It has been given to each generation and it has been thrown away; quenched by the hardship, poverty and burdens of life.

From the White Fire Letter from Mame to Dorothy, mid 1920s

Update Continued
I have submitted our first grant application for this project. This means we now have a budget completed, mission statement, project description, project history, work samples to present as needed. Fundraising had begun in earnest. We selected a director. And we are bringing on volunteers.

Immigrant children, Chicago 1900s

Research and image acquisition is the next stage. I will be getting advice and support on digitalization of old photos from arts history and tech-savvy professionals. I’m inviting members of the arts community, family, historians and authors, to contribute their photographs of immigrants and places in early days Chicago, to be included in projections throughout the program.

As a friend of the late aural historian and sage Studs Terkel, who is part of the show, I hope to do a WFMT radio broadcast around his May birthday, as well.

I have also outlined ancillary programming to the project with the concert followed by a talk and discussion with audiences.

It’s long been thought the folksinger is a storyteller, as the troubadour once carried the tales of people and place, now we, the silver-haired, grace the audience with our songs and stories.
My Legacy Program is “In Old Chicago” – part of the Voices of Old Chicago Project.
I am creating Legacy Evenings: our performance, followed by a talk and audience discussion. How do you explore your roots and family history – the music and stories, heirlooms and artifacts – and integrate them in your art. Create YOUR legacy?

Listen to “Love’s Old Sweet Song” with Jamie and John Erickson

I will do several previews of From Parlor to Print this spring and summer. The final objective is a professional, high-profile show accompanied by historic images at one of Chicago’s landmark venues, that will then be filmed for our family legacy and others.

Here are the top things we need now to bring this project to life:

Here is the easy small business donor form on PayPal

Finally, please join us at our next Salon Feb 5 at Judi Heikes’ lovely home in Glen Ellyn.
Event link: https://www.jamieoreilly.com/events/st-brigids-day-salon-jamie-oreilly-co/

And/or join us in March when we will be back at Tre Kronor Swedish Bistro.