What Makes It a Great Migration

41 3Arts supporters
$6,435 raised of $5,000 goal
0 Days 0:00:00 LEFT
Funded on July 30, 2018
    • 129% contributed

With this campaign, I am breathing new life into an original music composition I wrote that reflects on the history and impact of the Great Migration in Chicago neighborhoods. As a performing artist, educator, and poet, I’ve always been passionate about making work that connects people to history, to my hometown of Chicago, to the Black Arts Movement, and to the ways we can inspire others—especially young people—to leave the world better than the way we inherited it. This project originates in a song I wrote back in 2010 when I was teaching elementary students at St. Thomas the Apostle School. I then performed a rendition of it at the 2016 Chicago Jazz Festival and the dedication of the 35th Street suspended bridge. Now I feel it’s time to resurrect the song for an even larger purpose, but I need my community’s help to make this happen. With your support, I will complete a professional audio recording of the song, create my first music video, and develop a companion study guide that uses the song as a basis for curriculum in schools. Like all of my music, I want this work to inspire people to work toward consciously making their own unique and positive contribution to the layers of history. My poetry and musical voice is the expression of my hope and intention to create a greater sense of responsibility for a positive future. I believe releasing this video and sharing the study guide with educators and students will serve to both inform and uplift history.

About This Project

For almost three decades now, in addition to performing concerts with my band as a solo artist and in collaboration with ensembles and organizations in Chicago, I have focused much of my creative work as an educator of young people. Late in the 1970’s my father, Oscar Brown, Jr., began using the term "edutainment" as entertainment not just for the sake of amusement, but to raise consciousness and knowledge. I was heavily influenced by my late, great, dear ol’ Dad to use my gifts, voice, and talents to be an entertainer who would educate, unify, and advance humanity.  

I first wrote the song “What Makes it a Great Migration” to help teach elementary school students the legacy of families who made journeys from the South to places like Chicago. My family’s own story is wrapped up in this history. My grandfather, Oscar Brown, Sr., and one of his brothers came up from Mississippi in the first wave of the Great Migration. They landed at the Roosevelt Road train station. They were both attorneys and went into business helping other Black folks get into business. They fought for fair housing and helped to build Black-owned companies and support entrepreneurs in the area now called Bronzeville, site of the early Black Metropolis in Chicago. My Dad then began his career writing and singing songs about that same neighborhood where he came up in the 1930’s and 40’s.

So now this is me coming full circle, and I’m excited about the ways I can revive this song to reach more youth, more people in the community, and make more connections to our shared history.

Funds from this campaign will be critical to bring this all to fruition. The song is recorded but needs the final step of “mastering” the soundtrack so that all sound frequencies play properly across all types of devices (car radio, CD player, digital devices, etc.). I have identified the studio and engineer. My concepts for the music video are written out in storyboard form, which I will share with a videographer to finalize a plan for capturing the footage and still images needed. I have identified the choreographer, Indika Dullea, a Columbia College Chicago graduate with a degree in dance. I have narrowed down three choices of videographers and plan to solidify this in June. I envision casting and rehearsing actors/dancers (12 to 16 total, mixed ages). Once I have the final recording and the video, I’ll upgrade my website as a platform for distribution. I’ll also use my relationships with several principals and teachers to introduce the song into classrooms and begin collaborating on refining a study guide. Should I surpass my $5,000 funding goal, I will be able to create DVDs to offer in curricula for schools and educational organizations. Even if not, I will be able to send people to the online source to obtain the song.

Thank you for helping me bring this song, my talents, and this historical legacy to greater light.

Thank yous

Contribute any amount or choose from the levels below.

  • $25
    Personal thanks on social media ($25.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $50
    Personal thanks on social media and a digital audio copy of the “Great Migration” song ($50.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $100
    All of the above plus your name acknowledged as a supporter on the digital download and in the DVD liner notes ($100.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $250
    All of the above plus a special song dedicated to YOU during my performance at the Hyde Park Jazz Festival on September 29, 2018 ($250.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $500
    All of the above plus an invitation to be my special guest at the MCA’s Tuesdays on the Terrace and have dinner during the break with me and the band (September 18, 2018), plus acknowledgement of your support in the “Great Migration” study guide ($480.00 is tax deductible.)

Maggie Brown

Make a Wave Artist

Maggie Brown is an accomplished singer, songwriter, stage director, producer, and educator. She is said to be “one of the most fiercely committed artists in Chicago” (Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune). Maggie embodies a powerful and passionate performance style, whether …

View Maggie Brown's profile
  • Update 1: I have earned the 3Arts.Org match! Thanks
    Posted on July 03, 2018


    I Am so encouraged and pumped having recieved donations helping me past the 1/3rd funding hurdle. With just less than 30 days to go, I feel quite confident and above all loved and suported. Thanks to everyone.

    Whoever is coming to Back Alley Jazz Project, we will have fun with the Great Migration song.

    Update 2: 2/3rds Funded with 3 wks to Go!
    Posted on July 09, 2018


    I am extremely grateful and very excited to see the donations during the 3rd week of my campaign bringing me so far along.  Heartfelt thanks to everyone for your support.

    Update 3: Many Thanks. We Did It!
    Posted on July 30, 2018


    I am so encouraged and delighted to report that I have made and even surpassed my 3Arts.Org campaign goalMany, heartfelt thanks to 3Arts.Org and for all who contributed, monetarily, and with support spreading the word.  I look forward to sharing my progress with you, as I work to produce this next milestone in my career.  Love and light


    • Thank you to the following for contributing to 3Arts with the recommendation that we support this project.

    • Stephanie Gaston

    • Juarez Hawkins

    • Larry Shapiro

    • Lynne Jordan

    • Jon Satrom

    • Marta Bailey Hopkins

    • Phyllis Cole

    • Tempestt Hazel

    • Betty James

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    • Joan Pantsios

    • Andrew Davis

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    • Edward Oppenheimer

    • Les Stewart

    • Judith Stein

    • Richard Steele

    • Folayemi Wilson

    • Anonymous Supporter

    • Kali Grosvenor

    • Vivian Loseth

make it work


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 Additional support provided by: 

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