Hit Parade

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The Bridge: Chi-Town, Soul Town

Chicago music expert Ayana Contreras says the Great Migration made the Midwest funkier and more soulful.

Episode Notes

In this mini-episode of Hit Parade, host Chris Molanphy welcomes Chicago broadcaster and Black music scholar Ayana Contreras, host of the radio show Reclaimed Soul and author of Energy Never Dies: Afro-Optimism and Creativity in Chicago. Contreras says the Great Migration made not only Chicago but all of the Midwest—from Detroit to Dayton—a cradle of R&B styles in the ’70s, particularly soul and funk. And while disco proved a challenge to Windy City acts, they eventually remade dance music through the power of their innovative arrangements, building a foundation for the hip-hop era.

Next, Chris quizzes a Slate Plus listener with some music trivia, gives him a chance to turn the tables with a question of his own, and previews next month’s full-length episode. Slate Plus members can sign up for a chance to be our trivia contestant on a future episode here.

Podcast production by Kevin Bendis.

About the Show

Chris Molanphy, a pop-chart analyst and author of Slate’s “Why Is This Song No. 1?” series, tells tales from a half-century of chart history. Through storytelling, trivia, and song snippets, Chris dissects how that song you love—or hate—dominated the airwaves, made its way to the top of the charts, and shaped your memories forever.

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  • Chris Molanphy is a feature writer and critic who writes widely about music and the pop charts.