The sound of hope is all around us. It can be the romantic guitarron and marimba brought to Illinois by Mexican immigrants. It is the joyful accordion delivered by the seekers of opportunity from Czechoslovakia, Poland, and Mexico.

The Irish carried their flutes, tin whistles, and even harps to the New America. The Germans and Ukrainians imported the lilt of the zither, a guitar-like string instrument that was later played by Dolly Parton.

These sounds are warm reminders of a home in a new home.

Other sounds belong here. The Black Hawk Performance Company meshes flute playing, traditional music, dance, and storytelling. Founded in 1984, the group features 10 and 30 members and is the oldest American Indian dance company in Chicago. Also in 1984, guitarist-vocalist Frank Orrall founded Poi Dog Pondering in Hawaii. They have crossed over into a rock audience with tropical, funk, and electronic influences.

Multi-instrumentalist Tatsu Aoki left his native Tokyo Japan in 1977 to study filmmaking at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago. He became long-time bassist for the late Chicago bop saxophonist Fred Anderson and also has collaborated with Chicago jazz giants like Von Freeman and Jeff Parker. That’s the magic of aspiration.

All of this world music can soothe a singular soul. These hybrids have been played at anniversaries, birthdays, weddings, and funerals across the wide-ranging State of Illinois. The collective elements of this immigrant sound created a new dance card. It is the soundtrack of a land filled with possibility, power, and the promise of a better tomorrow.

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