The Chicago music scene has birthed an abundance of talent, from recent innovators such as Chance the Rapper to veteran icons like Mavis Staples and so many more. While several artists identify with the city of Chicago and call it home, as both Buddy Guy and Muddy Waters have, or were at one point raised on the city’s outskirts such as Tom Morello or Liz Phair, fewer artists were both born and bred in this city. Check out the 10 artists below who fall under that category.
This talented musician and multi-instrumentalist graduated from Lake Forest High School in 1991 and when it came time to attend college he didn’t stray too far. The Chicago north-suburban native attended Northwestern and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in violin performance in 1996, the same year he released his debut solo album Music of Hair. Since then, Bird has gone on to release 12 more albums, his most recent being 2016’s Are You Serious.
The well-known Smashing Pumpkins frontman was born in Elk Grove Village, though later moved to live with his father, stepmother and brother in Glendale Heights. Corgan attended Glendbard North High School in Carol Stream and following graduation decided to put off college to pursue music full time. While working at a record store in Chicago, Corgan met guitarist James Iha and laid down the initial groundwork for what would become the Smashing Pumpkins. Corgan later met bassist D’arcy Wretzky at a concert, and finally recruited Jimmy Chamberlin as a drummer to complete the band in time for their debut show at Metro in 1988.
Born Yvette Marie Stevens, this powerhouse vocalist and “Queen of Funk” was born and raised in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago. Khan become involved in the Civil Rights Movement at an early age and joined the Black Panther Party after befriending fellow Chicago native Fred Hampton. In August 2014, Khan was grand marshal at he 85th annual Bud Billiken Parade and Picnic, which is said to be the largest African American parade in the U.S.
The Pearl Jam frontman was born in Evanston, where he lived for about 10 years before his mother remarried and moved the family to San Diego. Years later, Vedder’s mother divorced once more, and while she and his three younger half-brothers moved back to Chicago, Vedder stayed put. Eventually, though, he came home to attend a community college in the city. By the mid-80s he returned to San Diego once more, marking the start of his success as a musician, first with Temple of the Dog and next with Pearl Jam.
Though Belleville – the hometown of Wilco frontman Tweedy – is fairly far south of Chicago, he and his band are still considered natives of the city nonetheless. Though first a founding member of Uncle Tupelo, which dissolved around 1994, Tweedy and the other remaining members moved on to form Wilco the same year. As homage to the city of Chicago in which Wilco was born, the album artwork for the band’s 2002 album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot features Marina City.
Mavis Staples was not only born and raised in Chicago, she helped nurture the city’s rich roots in gospel and soul music. From a young age, she started singing with her family group – The Staple Singers – spearheaded by her father, Roebuck “Pops” Staples. By the early 2000s, after success as both a member in the family band and as a solo artist, Mavis made her national return with Have a Little Faith, which she released on Chicago label Alligator Records. A little less than a decade later, in 2012, she was awarded an honorary doctorate of Columbia College Chicago.
Davis, who is hailed as one of the most innovative and influential figures in the history of jazz music, was born in Alton, which sits right on the border of Illinois and St. Louis. Davis has earned a large amount of accolades over the years: he was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1990, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006, and as of 2008 his album Kind of Blue went four times Platinum. It is said to be the best-selling jazz album of all time.
Though she didn’t live in Chicago long after being born in the city – her family later moved to Pennsylvania and then New Jersey – it still and always will be the place this punk pioneer calls home. Moving to the east coast proved entirely beneficial, though, as it ultimately led Smith to New York where she forged her path, made her highly influential album Horses, and blossomed into the iconic figure she has become. Smith will honor her hometown roots come December 30, when she will perform Horses in its entirety at the Riviera Theatre to celebrate her 70th birthday.
This veteran rocker can be credited for putting Rockford on the rock and roll map of America. Nielsen’s family owned a music store in the northern suburb, which enabled him to play around on several different instruments while growing up. His early onset skills paid off when he later went on to form Cheap Trick. In terms of Nielsen’s ongoing connection to Chicago, the guitarist appeared in the Chicago episode of Dave Grohl’s Sonic Highways mini series (Cheap Trick also opened for Foo Fighters’ show at Wrigley Field in 2015) and also co-owns Piece Brewery and Pizzeria.
Considering recent events – you know, that time the Cubs won the World Series – it’s only fitting for Chicago’s own Steve Goodman to close out this list. Goodman attended Maine East High School, with fellow classmate Hillary Clinton, and later graduated from University of Illinois. Though largely known for writing “City of New Orleans,” which Willie Nelson and Arlo Guthrie recorded, Goodman solidified his legacy with the Chicago Cubs’ anthem, “Go Cubs, Go.” Additionally, he wrote several other Chicago centric songs, such as: “Daley’s Gone,” “A Dying Cub Fan’s Last Request” and more.