“Do all of you go to Northwestern?” might have been a rhetorical question from singer-songwriter Kaina at Thursday’s benefit concert put on by A&O Productions, but the fired-up crowd still volunteered its collective voice in enthusiastic agreement.
Kaina, like the other three artists performing at the Evanston SPACE venue Thursday night, is from the greater Chicago area. With fellow opener DJ King Marie, she set the tone for an intimate environment that was energized by the musicians’ love for their hometown.
Weinberg senior Whitney Tesi, who is head of development at A&O, said that the executive board wanted to represent a diverse range of genres at the benefit. “We have a DJ, a few R&B artists and a rapper. They’re all people of color. We wanted to show Northwestern kids the Chicago scene.
In particular, Tesi said that she was excited about Kweku Collins, a producer and rapper who went to Evanston Township High School. Two of his most recent albums, Nat Love (2016) and Grey EP (2017), have received critical acclaim from Pitchfork.
Headlining with Collins was Monte Booker, a producer from the South Side of Chicago. “He’s kind of the hidden gem,” A&O co-chair Jessica Collins said. Booker has used the sound of a box of crackers, pepper grinder, and two glasses clinking together to craft his unique beats.
Collins, who is a Weinberg senior, said the board was excited about the choice of Young Chicago Authors as this year’s nonprofit because they work with young Chicagoans to bring out their creativity: “They engage people in music and we like to engage the Northwestern community in music so we thought that it was the perfect sponsorship.”