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Live The Spirit Overview 

Live the Spirit Residency (LTSR), is THE premier cultural musical initiative in Chicago, Illinois. LTSR is deeply rooted in and reflects the rich cultural heritage of the Englewood community Chicago’s South Side. For the past two decades, their mission is to increase the musical resources of the community and connect the past to the present through programs and partnerships with artists and arts organizations committed to music, mentoring, and inter-generational knowledge exchange. For twenty-four years, they have presented original music to a community that is directly linked to the musicians who write and perform it at home and around the globe.


Live the Spirit Residency are the producers of the Englewood Jazz Festival and the LTSR Young Master’s program—an after-school jazz education program for youth. Full concert length programing such as “Redefining Frederick Douglass,” “The Englewood Soweto Exchange," and “Memory In The Center — An Afro Opera: Homage To Nelson Mandela” feature international and Chicago-based musician, as well as members and alumni from the Young Masters program for each performance. Undoubtably their biggest attribute is the ability to consistently showcase Chicago’s breadth of young masters to a local and global audience. Veteran musicians such as the 2014 Thelonious Monk Trumpet Competition winner Marquis Hill, Grammy winning recording trumpeter Maurice Brown, saxophonist Greg Ward, bassist Junius Paul, and award-winning flutist and educator Nicole Mitchell, were key contributing performers in the organization’s younger years. Rising musicians such as pianist Alexis Lombre, percussionist Jeremiah Collier, and saxophonist Isaiah Collier began their promising careers with LTSR, and maintain their status as regular contributors to LTSR programming and events.


Memory In The Center —
An Afro Opera: Homage To Nelson Mandela

Commissioned by the Jazz Institute of Chicago shortly after Mandela’s passing in 2013,

“Memory In The Center” is a multidisciplinary presentation that tactfully symbolizes the struggle, endurance, and leadership embodied by South Africa’s first Black president— Nelson Mandela. Via a blend of powerful spoken word, written and improvisational instrumentals, and visuals effects, this piece seeks to address Mandela’s life from beginning to end. The opera, which is composed for a 15-piece ensemble, is partitioned by movements—according to composer Ernest Dawkins—seeks to engage multiple sensory centers such as empathy, sympathy, sorrow, tragedy and anger to personify the complexity of what was Mandela.


“Memory In The Center: a[n] afro opera a vibrant and apt memorial to a truly inspirational man that is both timely and timeless. This intriguing and singular disc promotes social consciousness without sacrificing musical innovation and is sublimely complex while remaining accessible. It is testament of Dawkins' exquisitely creative acumen and courageous sense of morality.” —Hrayr Attarian, All About Jazz


Howard Reich of the Chicago Tribune called the piece "musically gripping" and noted that it "held some of Dawkins' most ingenious writing" with orchestral passages that "startled the ear."


Duration: 75–90 min

Ensemble Size – 15


Memory In The Center —
An Afro Opera: Homage To Nelson Mandela

Recently commissioned—"Redefining Frederick Douglass”—honors, sheds new light, and reinterprets our conception of an African American hero, scholar, and self-made man—Frederick Douglass. Within the general American historical framework, the life and legacy of Frederick Douglass has consistently been underscored, underappreciated, and largely unexplored. This projects’ primary objective seeks to create an oral and musical tribute to the great American thinker and writer. By coupling Douglass’s own words with musical movements and improvisation, the 12-person ensemble via a multidisciplinary framework personifies the richness and complexity of Douglass’s life, words, activism.


This project does “a consistently great job of bringing Mr. Douglas’ words to life” while sonically “giving us all sometime to think about in these times of racial division” — Downtown Music Gallery


Duration: 75–90 min

Ensemble Size – 12


The Englewood
Soweto Exchange

Rooted in the African American tradition, it is vital for jazz to both embrace the music from the Western perspective while simultaneously connecting the music and Western-born musicians to the greater African diaspora. Blending a 9-piece ensemble from both Chicago, United States and Soweto/Durban, South Africa, this project represents a unique combination of multidisciplinary emerging artists.


“The Englewood Soweto Exchange" evolved from a jazz workshop and cultural exchange that encouraged young musicians from two different backgrounds bound by history, to find each other. Showcasing new compositions by ensemble members, it reflects a hybridization of hip-hop and jazz music influenced by neighborhood, tradition, and the contemporary cultural vibrancy urban living across the diaspora.


“The music is young, fresh, joyous, and most of all it is unpretentious as a testament of Black consciousness contextualized in the classroom and played out in the studio.”

— News24 South Africa

Duration: 60–75 min

Ensemble Size – 9


Englewood Jazz Fest 

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A neighborhood Jazz Festival curated by Ernest Dawkins featuring the best Jazz musicians in the country


Streaming Consciousness Studios

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A recently added streaming component that airs new shows as they happen


Young Masters 

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The "Young Masters" are a group comprised of the brightest young jazz musicians in Chicago that are handpicked to be mentored

Drum Circle ​

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Chicago jazz musician Ernest Dawkins has been leading drum circles to amplify the arts and create a healing ritual in the neighborhoods on the Southside of Chicago.


Englewood- Soweto Exchange 

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The Englewood-Soweto Exchange is a collaborative exchange project that was initially funded by a MacArthur International Connections grant and led by internationally acclaimed saxophonist & composer Ernest Dawkins. 

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