Fresh off last month’s Pitchfork Music Festival, breakout artist Ravyn Lenae is saying yes to YAS! Fest, a new festival created to showcase the Year of Creative Youth designated by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE).
It stands to reason Lenae was selected to open for YAS! Fest headliner, hip hop star Desiigner (“Panda”). Not only has she toured with SZA and Chicago rapper Noname, the 19-year-old Atlantic Records singer/songwriter is also an alum of the Chicago High School for the Arts.
“That’s where I found a lot of my inspiration,” says Lenae. “I couldn’t imagine myself in any other high school. I don’t feel like I’d be the artist I am today or that I would have tapped into the artistry inside of me if it wasn’t for that environment. I was encouraged to be myself, but I also learned discipline. I was up at 5:30 a.m. every day, in class until 2 p.m. and then conservatory until 5 p.m. I loved being classically trained, but I also wanted to find my own voice, so I started songwriting.”
Presented by Allstate Insurance Company, YAS! Fest will take place from 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 22 throughout Chicago’s Millennium Park Campus. The free festival features the hosting and spinning skills of South Side native DJ Mike P, who will appear as part of the mainstage program at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion.
The day also includes dozens of youth performances, an interactive media lounge and live pop-up youth radio show as well as hands-on art-making activities for the entire family, and an exhibition at the Chicago Cultural Center of work by young artists presented by Changing Worlds, Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education, Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance and Puerto Rican Arts Alliance.
“The Year of Creative Youth provides an incredible opportunity to support the creativity and growth of artistic children across Chicago,” says Mayor Emanuel. “This festival is our city’s largest showcase of youth artists, featuring the creative works of hundreds of young people from arts organizations in neighborhoods across the city. We celebrate their talents and the mentors who inspire them.”
For the latest YAS! Fest information, visit cityofchicago.org/YOCY or follow YAS! Fest and DCASE on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (@ChicagoDCASE) and Snapchat (ChicagoDCASE) #YASfest #2018isYOCY.
Desiigner (left) photo by Robert Wunsch; Ravyn Lenae by Sam Kfare