New exhibit will explore Illinois music from jazz to rock to polka


SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – The next special exhibit at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum will explore the amazing musical history of Illinois by putting the spotlight on legends like rockers Cheap Trick, jazz great Miles Davis, bluegrass queen Alison Krauss and “king of soul” Sam Cooke.

“The State of Sound: A World of Music from Illinois” will feature one-of-a-kind artifacts that can be seen nowhere else, including:

  • Benny Goodman’s clarinet
  • Common’s suit from his 2015 Oscars performance.
  • Howlin’ Wolf’s harmonica
  • John Prine’s stage props
  • Dan Fogelberg’s guitar
  • An Earth, Wind & Fire stage costume

The exhibit also includes short films on different musical genres and a working studio where radio hosts are invited to broadcast their shows.

“State of Sound” opens April 30 in the museum’s Illinois Gallery, a space used for highlighting Illinois history as part of the ALPLM’s role as the state historical library. It will run through Jan. 23, 2022.

“The depth of Illinois’s musical history blows you away when it’s brought together in one place like this,” said Melissa Coultas, acting executive director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. “Whether you like country or rap or the blues, you’ll gain a new appreciation for the music and musicians of Illinois.”

The exhibit was overseen by the presidential library’s director of exhibits, Lance Tawzer. Noted Chicago music writer Dave Hoekstra developed the exhibit’s text, scripts and other written material.

“Illinois artists helped shaped the sound of the blues, gospel, soul and house music. Others worked in established genres but brought such talent and originality that their contributions can never be forgotten.,” Tawzer said. “No exhibit could capture all of this state’s music history, but we think ‘State of Sound’ will give visitors new insights into music legends and introduce them to some artists who deserve a wider audience.”

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum uses a combination of rigorous scholarship and high-tech showmanship to immerse visitors in Lincoln’s life and times. The library holds an unparalleled collection of Lincoln books, documents, photographs, artifacts and art, as well as some 12 million items pertaining to all aspects of Illinois history.

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