Bandleader, Vocal, Harmonica, Percussion, Author
Chicago Beau (L Beauchamp), was born on the south-side of Chicago on 13 February 1949, into a house of music. The recordings of Dinah Washington, Coleman Hawkins, Miles Davis, Billy Holiday, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald and others inundated his senses from the beginning.
From the age of 10 until 15, Beau studied tap-dancing with the great Afro-Cuban dancer and choreographer, Jimmy Payne. He participated in many Cabaret-type shows that were popular during that era. A show could consist of performances by Afro-Cuban dancers, magicians, tap dancers, Jazz and Blues performers, and drill teams. These shows gave young people the opportunity to participate with professionals in a community setting. There was little distinction in the taste of the audience, people of all ages appreciated the same talent.
Beau was becoming quite a tap-dancer (sometimes still used in his shows), but it was the Blues and Jazz elements of these shows that really held his interest. He became so interested in Blues that he began sneaking around to Blues clubs after school to listen to Blues bands rehearse. On famous 47th street, he would slip into the 708 Club which sizzled at night with artists like Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf, Sonny Boy Williamson, Big Mama Thornton, Little Walter, and Billy Boy Arnold. Up the street from there was the Sutherland Lounge which featured Jazz and Blues acts as Ella Fitzgerald, Joe Williams, Esther Philips, Von Freeman, E Parker McDougal, Louis Armstrong, Dexter Gordon, Dizzy Gillispie, Chico Hamilton, Philly Joe Jones, and nearly everyone that had a name.
Little did Beau know at the time that some of these performers he watched and listened would have a permanent impact on his life: Billy Boy Arnold gave him harmonica lessons (they later recorded together), and Muddy Waters gave him his name, ‘Chicago Beau.’
After spending three years from the age of 17 playing harmonica and singing in small clubs, mining and logging camps, and on street corners from Chicago, to Boston, to Nova Scotia, to Amsterdam, he moved to Paris where he met, performed and recorded with Archie Shepp in August, 1969, at age 20. Beau considers the first recording with Shepp to be the beginning of his professional career.
For over 30 years Chicago Beau has recorded and performed with some of the most respected names in music including Memphis Slim, Art Ensemble of Chicago, Cal Massey, Anthony Braxton, Sunny Maurry, Pinetop Perkins, Anthony Braxton, Jimmy Dawkins, Johnny Shines, Billy Boy Arnold, Fontella Bass, Habib Koite, James Carter, Lester Bowie, Philly Joe Jones, Famoudou Don Moye, Jeanne Lee, Willie Kent, E. Parker McDougal, Amina Claudine Meyers, Zulu Chorus of Soweto, Frank Zappa, Sunnyland Slim, and others.
Chicago Beau has received the CLIO award, the American advertising industry’s highest honor, for his music which was used in the 1991-92 National Basketball Association Champions, Chicago Bulls, cable television campaign.
Chicago Beau is committed to the literary side culture. In 1988 he founded Literati Internazionale, a publishing company dedicated to multi-culturalism. To date his company has published over ten journals, books, and magazines. As a writer, Chicago Beau has written numerous articles and two books, Great Black Music-The Art Ensemble of Chicago, and Blues Stories. He was working with trumpeter Lester Bowie on his Autobiography at the time of his death. Excerpts from this work will be published soon.
Chicago Beau also lectures in Universities, Schools, and music festivals on the topics: The Evolution of Blues as Language and Literature,’ and ‘History of Music Along the Mississippi River.’
Beau is currently touring with his BLUZ-MULTI-GROOVE BAND:
CHICAGO BEAU AND HIS WONDERFUL TIME BAND