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Singer Charles Thomas brings smooth jazz to Chicagoland library

The beautiful Cindy Pritzker Auditorium rests on the ground floor of the Harold Washington Library in Chicago
The beautiful Cindy Pritzker Auditorium rests on the ground floor of the Harold Washington Library in Chicago
Alicia Smock

While hundreds of excited people gathered in Grant Park Friday, August 1st for the beginnings of Lollapalooza, a group of about thirty people gathered beneath the Harold Washington Library for a quiet afternoon listening to jazz.

Within the quiet walls of the public library in Chicago, an announcement sounded over an intercom stating that at 12:15 that afternoon, jazz singer Charles Thomas with guitarist Scott Hesse would be giving a free performance for anyone who wished to listen. Thomas and Hesse performed in the Cindy Pritzker Auditorium on the ground floor of the library.

Charles Thomas has sung many different styles of music, such as jazz, gospel, pop, and he has even performed in theatrical productions in New York, Philadelphia, and even Europe. This performance marked the second time Thomas had visited the Harold Washington Library, his first being in the spring of 2012. He told the audience he loved the library, saying, “The library is a big part of who I am.”

This was the first time Thomas and Hesse had performed together, yet their synchronization could have fooled many into thinking they had performed together for years. Both musicians took turns in the spotlight, covering various songs from various jazz singers that many young people of this generation would not know. However, they performed “Route 66” (a song everyone is familiar with) and the few members of the audience really grooved to that tune.

After a delightful hour-long performance, Thomas sang his thanks to the library, the audience, and his guitarist by using the tune of his final song, “I Get a Kick Out of You.” One can find much more in a library than just books.