The State of Sound: A World of Music from Illinois

April 30, 2021 - January 23, 2022

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From Muddy Waters to REO Speedwagon, Cheap Trick to Earth Wind and Fire and Chance the Rapper, the land of Lincoln has produced some of the most highly celebrated music in rock history. Musicians, legendary radio stations, and musical gear have shaped the sonic history of Illinois and the world.

This one-of-a-kind exhibit showcases the achievements and contributions of Illinois’ finest in music. Written by award-winning author, documentary-producer and former Chicago Sun-Times Columnist and Critic, Dave Hoekstra.

Produced by the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum and hosted in the 3,000-square-foot Illinois Gallery.

Featured Artifact

Artifact of the Week

This week's artifact from the State of Sound: A World of Music from Illinois exhibit

Howlin’ Wolf’s Harmonica

Howlin’ Wolf was an enigmatic singer, guitarist, and harmonica player. His most famous song, “Smokestack Lightin’,” has a memorable harmonica solo in the middle. This is Wolf’s 1950s-era Marine Band harmonica. It is in the Key of A major, a traditional key for Blues and Rock.

Courtesy of Bettye Kelly

The State of Sound Podcast

A production of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

A companion series to the blockbuster exhibit, The State of Sound, a World of Music from Illinois.

This bi-weekly podcast series dives deep into the stories behind the stories of the exhibit “The State of Sound” - with newly taped interviews from key players, artists, families, authors as well as historical perspectives. The music from Illinois has inspired the soundtrack of our lives, hear the stories about the music creators and the artifacts in the exhibit - check back here every other week for new episodes.

Where to listen:

Episode 1

Exhibit Director Lance Tawzer interviews Tim McIlrath, the singer and guitarist from the punk powerhouse band, Rise Against.


Episode 2

ALPLM’s Joe Crain interviews REO Speedwagon’s lead singer and songwriter, Kevin Cronin.

Episode 3

State of Sound writer, Dave Hoekstra interviews Rosanna Goodman, the daughter of folk legend Steve Goodman.


Episode 4

ALPLM's Reggie Guyton interviews Gospel journalist and historian Robert Marovich.

Episode 5

State of Sound writer, Dave Hoekstra interviews Cheaa Mayfield, the son of Soul legend Curtis Mayfield.


Episode 6

ALPLM’s Lance Tawzer and UK contributor Gordon Lee interview international house music DJ and producer, Derrick Carter

Episode 7

State of Sound writer, Dave Hoekstra interviews Jonathan Wright and Dawson Barrett authors of the new book "Punks in Peoria". 

Episode 8

ALPLM’s Joe Crain interviews Survivor's founding guitarist, Frankie Sullivan.

Coming Soon.


The State of Sound Playlist

Listen to our curated playlists of the music from Illinois on Spotify.

Listen Here

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