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5 questions with Jada Russell about the Chicago Westside Music Festival

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The Chicago Westside Music Festival is an annual free event of music and activities designed to establish the West Side as a destination for music and summer festival fun, drawing audiences from both local and citywide communities. In its inaugural year, the festival formed a partnership with the Chicago Park District Parkways Foundation and received a grant from The Chicago Community Trust to support the development, planning, implementation and evaluation of the event. Now in its third year, the festival is backed by a number of sponsors and community organizations to make it an even bigger and better event.

We recently caught up with public relations maven Jada Russell of High Style Marketing and PR to tell us more about the event and what attendees can expect this year.

Tell us about the genesis of the Chicago Westside Music Festival?

At its core, the Chicago Westside Music Festival works to address the lack of cultural events on the West Side, and along the way help develop economic opportunities in the community that go well beyond an enjoyable day of music. In the inaugural year the festival, co-producers Michael Scott Jr., and Michelle Geddes, formed a partnership with the Chicago Park District, Parkways Foundation and received a grant from The Chicago Community Trust to support the development, planning and implementation of the festival, which is laying the foundation for sustainable cultural programming year round. In the past two years of the event, we’ve hosted four events at Columbus, Douglas, and Garfield Park. Every year the festival has been bigger and better, and this year is shaping up nicely.

Musically, what can people look forward to from this year’s festival?

We have an amazing lineup of artists this year. 112 and Brownstone, two groups that helped define the sound of ‘90s R&B, are coming to the westside. And this year our exciting “Chicago’s Own” lineup features a great mix Chi-Town favorites like The Voice contestant Terisa Griffin and Bachata sensation, La Obra, along with emerging talent such as singer and songwriter Chás, Norris EJ Jackson and many more.

Talk about the importance of featuring Chicago artists along with the national headliners?

It’s so important to not only bring bigger names like 112 and Brownstone to the West Side but also to show love and appreciation for the talented individuals right here in Chicago. By doing so, the festival hopes to support the next generation of artists. The producers goal is to show that partnership, and supporting emerging talent truly helps us grow as a community and as a city.

Granted that the musical aspect of the fest is a big draw, what are some of the other activities that people can look forward to?

There will be food and beverage vendors onsite. For families, we have a Kids Zone with Radio Disney and the Chicago Park District, and lots of fun giveaways. And new this year is the MillerCoors Beer Garden. We are also partnering with several community organizations that are doing fantastic work in the community. Acts of Love is joining us again this year as a part of their Young People Tour that travels throughout the city, giving away free books for kids. Also, youth led antiviolence group, Chi Anti Vi, is bringing out their social media pop-up to conduct surveys and interviews about the effects of violence and identifying solutions to the crisis.

What are some future events from High Style Marketing & PR that people should look out for?

We are hitting the road with celebrity blogger Afrobella and ORS for the Secret Tour, a five city ambush makeover tour celebrating the secrets of diverse beauty transformation that showcase all the wonderfully healthy hair care properties of Olive Oil by ORS. August to October from Chicago, Baltimore, D.C., Atlanta to New York, the branded tour bus, interactive events and in-stores will connect with thousands of people, right in their community. The tour schedule is available on orshaircare.com.

And we are currently working in collaboration with The Great Chicago Fire Festival, produced by Redmoon Theater and the City of Chicago, taking place on Oct. 4, on the Chicago River. Leading up to the spectacle of machines and fire on the river, there is a series of Summer Celebrations in 15 neighborhoods throughout the summer. All of Chicago is invited. More information is available at www.chicagofirefestival.com.

The Chicago Westside Music Festival will take place this Saturday, Aug. 16 from 12 to 8 p.m. in Garfield Park located on the corner of Central Park Avenue and Jackson Boulevard in Chicago.

For more information on the event, visit www.chicagowestsidemusicfestival.com

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