House Music History

Powerful Essays
“House music is love. House music is a sound and it’s a spirit,”- house pioneer Wayne Williams
This past Weds night, househeads tuned in to watch a piece of our history told to a national audience. TV One’s series Unsung, told the story of Frankie Knuckles and the Roots of House Music. The docuseries was ambitious considering Chicago House history is rich, layered and full of so many stories of music, parties and creativity. I applaud TV One for telling just a portion of the history of house music and a portion of the life and career of Frankie Knuckles.
Frankie Knuckles is such a beloved figure in Chicago and across the globe. The universally recognized “ Godfather of House” music’s story is such an integral piece of our history and
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Frankie was adamant about the quality of the sound at the warehouse and insisted on Richard Long, a legendary sound man, to design the sound system for the warehouse. Wayne Williams remembers “Frankie had the best sound system in Chicago”. The music played at the warehouse was called “Warehouse Music” and eventually called “House Music”. The parties at the Warehouse united different people from different backgrounds. Frankie brilliantly created an environment where everyone felt comfortable to just enjoy music and dance. The music was the great unifier. “Frankie knew what to play, he was the coldest DJ on the planet…” Marshall Jefferson remembers. That’s not easy to do in a city as segregated as Chicago. His discography is the soundtrack to a generation. As the winner of the first Grammy for Mixer of the year, he is the reason so many DJ 's have been able to break through as producers and remixers to some of the world’s best known musical artists. The Unsung documentary covered just a few highlights in his career including his Grammy win, some of his classic…show more content…
Many Chicagoans’ bristled at the omission of Ron Hardy, who is a legend and innovator in house music. Those who were fortunate to know him or hear him play were outraged at his exclusion. While understandable, there are other documentaries that cover Ron Hardy’s legacy, DJ style and innovation, such as the Pump it Up documentary and others. Chicago House people are passionate about this music and there were so many DJ’s, artists, party spots that could have been mentioned but that would have taken much longer than 40 minutes. Even the Unsung producers agreed, stating, “House is more than deserving of books, docuseries and documentaries. For now, however, Frankie Knuckles is the gateway.” The debates have been ongoing from passionate Chicagoans on social media who were there during that time and those who wanted to be. I mentioned in a previous blog post, “Only in Chicago” that Chicago House people are extremely vocal about house music and on any given night at any party or on social media, debates about Chicago House history are plentiful. We are proud of what was created here and what is still being created to this day. Hopefully, many who voiced concerns on social media will be inspired to tell their own stories in books, film, docuseries, etc. However, 40 minutes will never be enough time to truly tell the story of genre of music that has spanned 30+ years. I take pride in our story
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