Last month, Chicago’s own Nico Segal (formerly known as Donnie Trumpet) and Fulcrum Point New Music Project hosted a night of eclectic music, poetry, and art as part of the midwest premiere of Americans by Scott Johnson, and Starburst by Jessie Montgomery the world premiere of “Peace in Chicago“. The new and original pieces were part of a collective aimed to incite awareness and discussion about the current state of our city. Segal rose to fame as a collaborator on The Social Experiment, headed by Chance the Rapper. Since then, he has worked with artists across the globe and created the JuJu Exchange with Julian Reid. As the Harris Theatre slowly started to fill up, the conversation in the room was focused on the music and art to come, along with the city’s current political climate and the tensions that can be felt across Chicago.
First to the stage was Ric Wilson, a 22-year old rapper from the South Side. He performed an original track called “What if I was White?” and immediately held everyone’s attention. Wilson is still a fledgling in the Chicago rap community, but he’s quickly gaining more followers and notoriety, especially with songs like this. Following Wilson’s performance, the winner of Louder Than a Bomb, one of the nation’s largest poetry competitions, recited his winning poem about what it means to truly be a Chicagoan.
After the intermission, the JuJu Exchange played their debut set, “Price of Peace”, which was an eclectic blend of world and classical music. The idea of the oratorio was centered around the turmoil of being a person of color in Chicago, which has become harder and harder in the past few years. Following the murder of Laquan McDonald by white police officer Jason Van Dyke in 2014, the city has become a crisis center for police violence, gang murder, and racial tension.
The first movement, titled “What Loss” explores how America started and what violent beginnings we had. This was followed by “Streets of Division”, which reminds us that we are one of the most starkly segregated cities in the country. Chicago is notorious for having certain streets or blocks that ‘you just don’t cross’. Finally, the performance ended with “Live Here”, a reminder that even though Chicago has a lot of work to do, it’s everyone’s job to make it a better place. The 20th Anniversary of Concert for Peace was memorable, emotional, and profound, thanks to the Fulcrum Point New Music Project, Segal, and every performer who donned the stage.