WNUR officials announced today that Akenya, Colleen Green, Mister Wallace, Smino and Derrick Carter will perform on the WNUR stage during Dillo Day this coming Saturday, May 21, in that order.
The group of artists, whose music genres include a diverse combination of pop rock, jazz, rap and house, will begin performing at 12:30 p.m. on the festival’s second stage, reserved solely for WNUR acts. They’ll perform simultaneously with the Mayfest-organized mainstage acts, providing students with a “different dimension” of music at the festival, as WNUR general manager Maddie Higgins said.
“We want to showcase the awesome talent we have in Chicago and we want to make sure they’re getting some shine so people can hear people they may not have heard of before,” said Higgins. “We always want to balance bringing artists that are underrepresented.”
Festivities will begin with jazz-influenced musician Akenya, who will be accompanied by her entire band. She has been well-known in the Chicago music scene for her uniquely soul and jazz-inspired vocals, which have been featured in collaborations with Chance the Rapper and world-renowned jazz artist Esperanza Spalding. Higgins said Akenya’s performance will complement Anderson Paak’s modern fusion of jazz and hip-hop.
Los Angeles-based, minimalist pop rocker Colleen Green will follow with her catchy combination of guitar riffs, drums and stream-of-consciousness lyrics. Green, who has already produced three albums, released her self-titled EP just days ago on May 13, building off of previous success from 2015’s I Want To Grow Up.
Rapper Mister Wallace will play third on the WNUR stage, a Black and queer artist who celebrates membership in marginalized communities with post-gender, club-inspired music. The artist is a Chicago native who recently moved to New York, highlighting the emphasis WNUR puts on recruiting local artists for the lineup, Higgins said.
Following Mister Wallace is recent Chicago transplant Smino. He is perhaps the most well-known of the lineup’s artists among Northwestern students, Higgins said, as the artist has collaborated with popular producer Monte Booker. His recent collaboration with Booker, “Kolors,” is especially popular, and features Smino’s upbeat, lyrical rapping style, a distinct sound from that of Mister Wallace.
Derrick Carter, the final artist on the WNUR stage, is a well-known Chicago house producer and DJ, an artist regarded as one of the world’s foremost active house DJs. Higgins emphasized Carter’s role as not only a Chicago resident, but a performer of a genre of music that is distinctly Chicagoan. The house genre, which originated in Chicago and was named after a city venue called The Warehouse, has since become associated with European DJs like Dillo mainstage performer Hayden James.
“[Carter] epitomizes what we’re looking for when we’re booking because he’s a Chicago native and he’s been doing it for so long but doesn’t get as exposed,” said Higgins. “We really just want to celebrate local art and local music, and that definitely gets left in the dark with LA and New York.”
WNUR decided on and booked the artists based on the preferences of its staff members, who looked for “underground” artists that would showcase underrepresented music and programming. Featuring less mainstream music has been a main tenet of WNUR’s work as a radio station since its start in 1950.
The budget for booking the artists was provided by a combination of listener donations and funds provided by Studio 22 Productions, a student film company that officially partnered with WNUR this year. Higgins was excited about the collaboration, a co-sponsorship that seemed natural given radio and film students sharing an academic department and a building (Louis Hall).
With the WNUR announcement, all of the Dillo Day artists have now been announced. The final lineup of mainstage artists, completed with last night’s Mayfest announcement, will include The Mowgli’s, Anderson Paak and The Free Nationals, Hayden James, Cashmere Cat and ScHoolboy Q.