FREE/PHASE: Meet the DJs of Dialogue

Dialogue, engages leaders in the Chicago community of DJs in dialogue with the community

Read Later

Mendi + Keith Obadike’s new suite FREE/PHASE has three specific installation nodes. The third node of the project, Dialogue, engages leaders in the Chicago community of DJs in dialogue with the community. The DJs selected by Mendi + Keith will draw from 150 freedom songs from the Center for Black Music Research collections and weave them into an engaging dialogue with their audience about the music and the black historical and political traditions of which they are a part.

Dialogue will be in continuous performances in the Grand Army of the Republic Rotunda of the Chicago Cultural Center from 10:00Am until 7:00Pm from April 6-9, 2015.The DJs that have been selected by the Obadike’s are a cross-section of artists from the Chicago area and beyond. Here, in alphabetical order, is a list of the DJs participating in the Dialogue node of their FREE/PHASE suite:

Sean Alvarez. Sean Alvarez’s foundation was built in the mid 80s hearing legends like Ron Hardy, Lil Louis, Frankie Knuckles, Farley Jackmaster Funk, and DJ Rush. Sean began DJing just over 20 years ago on two tape decks. Since then he’s become one of North America’s premier DJ’s, playing at several famous venues in the states and internationally alongside some of the most recognized names in music.

Rae Chardonnay. Ramara “Rae” Taylor is a recent graduate of Columbia College Chicago. She holds a degree in Arts, Entertainment and Media Management. She has specialized in sound selecting for just over one year and is working toward developing the skill level of her most esteemed DJs. Rae is the Co-Founder and music programmer for WSTS Radio; an emerging community based online radio station catering to Black and Latino communities in Chicago, centralized on Chicago’s West Side.

Ayana Contreras. Ayana Contreras is passionate about sound and color. She works in radio. She is the former host of WBEZ’s “Global Overnight” program, and currently serves as host/producer of Reclaimed Soul, a weekly radio program on 89.5FM and 90.7FM (sister station of WBEZ), and Executive Producer of two other weekly programs on Vocalo: The Barber Shop Show (hosted by WBEZ’s Richard Steele) and Practically Speaking (hosted by Audra Wilson).

Mike Ezebukwu. Mike Ezebukwu founded Gridface in 1999 as a non-commercial webzine covering deep electronic music, he currently writes about house music for Resident Advisor and Red Bull Music Academy, and has also written pieces for Wax Poetics, the Chicago Reader and liner notes for Still Music and Harmless.

Fathom DJ. Fathom DJ/music stylist, writes that “My mission: [is] to be the conveyor of the feeling of good music regardless to genre.” She has opened for Roy Ayers, Kindred, The  Family  Soul, and Eric Roberson, and maintained residencies in Chicago clubs including Funky Buddha Lounge, Darkroom, Cuatro, Sinibar and Tantrum as a respected and path-breaking female DJ.

Johari Palacio. Johari Palacio is an alumni of Columbia College and works as blog manager of the Center for Black Music Research. You can read more about his education and professional work here. He performs as Perpetual Rebel, and is dedicated to the advancement and awareness of all art forms that are rebellious in concept, creation and dissemination.

Make sure to attend the events at the Chicago Cultural Center to see these DJs work in person, and dialogue with them about the archive of freedom songs that they’re accessing for their work.

Recent Articles


  • CrossTalk: Cross Talk is a student-driven, multimedia destination dedicated to original student work that explores the sound-music continuum of the African Diaspora.
  • Depth Sounding: A platform for short-form scholarship intended for a wide audience, Depth Sounding is a space for up-to-the-minute thought in which authors can experiment with format, media, content, argument construction, and more, in ways that privilege or more fully integrate sound.
  • Free/Phase: Follow the FREE/PHASE suite of sound-based art works by artists Mendi+Keith Obadike, commissioned by the CBMR.
  • From the Stacks: Reviews and reactions to lucky “finds” and new additions within the CBMR Library and Archives–updated as serendipity leads. Contributors: staff, student workers, students, interns, patrons.
  • News: Events, notices, reviews–things that are timely.
  • Publications: All the in-house publications of the CBMR, past and present plus planned, except for the monographs and the BMRJ, which are available elsewhere. Ask us!