DCASE to host 3rd annual Fifth Star Awards presented by Allstate Insurance Company on September 14

DCASE to host 3rd annual Fifth Star Awards presented by Allstate Insurance Company on September 14

DCASE to host 3rd annual Fifth Star Awards presented by Allstate Insurance Company on September 14

Guy King, Sones de México Ensemble, The Second City, Black Ensemble Theater and others will perform—along with event hosts The Q Brothers

CHICAGO, 2016-Aug-17 — /Travel PR News/ — The Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) will honor four Chicago artists and arts advocates and one iconic cultural institution at the 3rd annual Fifth Star Awards presented by Allstate Insurance Company on Wednesday, September 14 at 7pm—at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. The 2016 honorees are blues legend Buddy Guy; celebrated photographer Victor Skrebneski; actress, educator and theater founder Jackie Taylor; museum founder and educator Carlos Tortolero; and the legendary improv and sketch comedy theater, The Second City.

Inaugurated in 2014, the Fifth Star Awards celebrate Chicago’s creativity and recognize institutions and individuals who have made significant contributions in arts and culture.

The free public event will feature electrifying live performances and moving video tributes. Presenters on stage will include American icon and supermodel Cindy Crawford (Victor Skrebneski), actor and comedian Fred Willard (The Second City), Broadway star Chester Gregory (Jackie Taylor) and the new “Queen of the Blues,” Shemekia Copeland (Buddy Guy). Guy King, Sones de México Ensemble, The Second City and Black Ensemble Theater will perform—along with event hosts The Q Brothers.

“Buddy Guy, Victor Skrebneski, Jackie Taylor, Carlos Tortolero and The Second City are not only some of our city’s most influential artists, but their ingenuity and contributions to Chicago’s vibrant arts scene make them great cultural ambassadors and an inspiration for many,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “We created this award—a nod to the four stars and our flag that are quintessentially Chicago—because we are committed to supporting and growing the arts in our city. I am looking forward to this year’s awards ceremony and performances by an all-star lineup that will make the 2016 Fifth Star Awards a night to remember.”

“Our annual Fifth Star Awards is a night of stars under the stars,” said new DCASE Commissioner Mark Kelly. “Best of all: it’s free—and you’re invited! We hope Chicagoans and visitors alike will join us in Millennium Park to celebrate Chicago’s creativity.”

Additionally, the City of Chicago will present its “Rising Star” youth award on September 14. DCASE and Allstate will recognize one dynamic 14–19 year old who is demonstrating potential and passion in the arts. The 2016 “Rising Star” will be announced in early September.

“At Allstate, we believe that good starts young,” said Vicky Dinges, senior vice president of corporate responsibility, Allstate. “The ‘Rising Star’ award represents the tremendous talent among our city’s young people. As a company, we are committed to empowering future generations with the strength, confidence and skills to realize their full potential.”



Shemekia Copeland is the new “Queen of the Blues”—and she says Buddy Guy is a “like a second father.” While only in her early 30s, two-time Grammy® nominee Shemekia Copeland is already a force to be reckoned with. She’s opened for the Rolling Stones, headlined at the Chicago Blues Festival and numerous festivals around the world, scored critics’ choice awards on both sides of the Atlantic (The New York Times and The Times of London), shared the stage with Buddy Guy, B.B. King, Mick Jagger and Eric Clapton, and has even performed at the White House for President and Mrs. Obama. Heir to the rich tradition of soul-drenched divas like Ruth Brown, Etta James and Koko Taylor, the singer was presented with Taylor’s crown by her daughter, Cookie, on June 12, 2011 at the Chicago Blues Festival.

American icon and supermodel Cindy Crawford calls Victor Skrebneski “the most important photographer in Chicago.” She credits him with helping launch her career. Cindy Crawford was born on February 20, 1966, in DeKalb, Illinois. She was class valedictorian at her high school graduation, but left college to pursue modeling. She won a “Look of the Year” contest in 1982 and soon after appeared on the cover of Vogue. Crawford rose to fame with her athletic build and all-American looks. From 1989 to 1995, she was host of MTV’s House of Style. And in the early 1990s, she signed multi-million dollar endorsements with Revlon and Pepsi. Her latest book, Becoming (2015, Rizzoli), looks back at pivotal moments in her life and career.

Chester Gregory, also known as CHΞSS, is an American actor, singer and songwriter from Gary, Indiana. He is an alumnus of Columbia College Chicago. Gregory first emerged on the scene in his portrayal of Jackie Wilson in Black Ensemble Theatre’s production of The Jackie Wilson Story, which culminated at New York’s famed Apollo Theater. This award-winning role gave him the opportunity to sing for the legendary “King of Pop,” Michael Jackson, in 2003. Jackson gave Gregory a standing ovation for his performance that night, and a week later Gregory booked his debut Broadway role as Seaweed in the Tony Award-winning musical Hairspray. Gregory’s other credits include principal roles in Tarzan, Cry-Baby, Dreamgirls, Sister Act and Motown The Musical.

Fred Willard, an alumnus of The Second City, is an American actor, comedian, voice actor and writer, best known for his improvisational comedy. He is known for his roles in the Rob Reiner mockumentary film This Is Spinal Tap, the Christopher Guest mockumentary filmsWaiting for Guffman, Best in Show, A Mighty Wind, and For Your Consideration, and the Anchorman films. He received three Emmy nominations for his recurring role on the TV series Everybody Loves Raymond as Robert Barone’s father-in-law, Hank MacDougall. In 2010 he received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series for his role on the ABC TV series Modern Family as Phil Dunphy’s father, Frank Dunphy.

A fifth presenter, honoring Carlos Tortolero, will be announced soon.



Black Ensemble Theater will perform in tribute to Jackie Taylor. Founded in 1976, the Black Ensemble Theater has produced more than 100 productions, employed over 5,000 artists and gained a national reputation for outstanding, original productions and a dedication to its mission of eradicating racism.

Guy King is a rising superstar in the ultra-competitive Chicago blues, soul and jazz world. He’ll perform in tribute to Buddy Guy. Born and raised in a small rural town in Israel, King first arrived in the U.S. on tour at the age of 16. Five years later, he returned to the United States and moved to Chicago, where he started his solo career in 2006. King has opened shows for B.B. King and Buddy Guy—and toured the world, performing in Japan, France, Belgium, Switzerland, England, Italy, Mexico, Argentina, Chile and Brazil. In 2015, King was signed by Chicago’s Delmark Records to record his new album TRUTH, released in 2016.

Sones de México Ensemble will perform in tribute to Carlos Tortolero. They are Chicago’s premier Mexican folk music band. The Chicago Tribune says “[They] move seamlessly between styles and instruments playing with rock ‘n’ roll energy without sacrificing cultural authenticity.” The group formed in 1994 to keep the tradition of Mexican ‘son’ alive in its many regional forms. The ensemble has toured internationally and throughout the U.S., including at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles and Carnegie Hall in New York. They have released six albums, including the Grammy® nominated Esta Tierra Es Tuya (This Land is Your Land).

A touring company of The Second City will perform in tribute to the legendary improv and sketch comedy theater. The Second City opened its doors on a snowy Chicago night in December of 1959, and has since grown to become the world’s premier comedy club, theatre and school of improvisation—with live shows every night in Chicago, Toronto and Hollywood

A fifth performer, honoring Victor Skrebneski, will be announced soon—performing an original composition for piano by James Kimo Williams.



Musicians, actors, writers, educators and DJs, GQ and JQ (The Q Brothers) created and starred in the award-winning, internationally-acclaimed productions Othello: The Remix and Funk It Up About Nothin’—both musical, hip hop “add-RAP-tations” of Shakespeare’s classics. The productions have played the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and Chicago Shakespeare Theater and toured to Germany, South Korea, London, Poland, the United Arab Emirates, Australia and New Zealand. Other projects include: A Q Brothers’ Christmas Carol, The Bomb-itty of Errors and Q Gents. Film and TV credits include Drumline and Scratch and Burn (MTV).



George “Buddy” Guy is a seven-time Grammy®-winning blues guitarist and singer. He is an exponent of Chicago blues and has influenced guitarists including Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Keith Richards, Jeff Beck, John Mayer and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Clapton once described him as “the best guitar player alive.” Guy was born and raised in Lettsworth, Louisiana—and moved to Chicago in 1957. In the 1960s, Guy played with Muddy Waters as a house guitarist at Chess Records and began a musical partnership with the harmonica player Junior Wells. Guy’s career took off during the blues revival of the late 1980s and early 1990s. It was sparked by Clapton’s request that Guy be part of the “24 Nights” all-star blues guitar lineup at London’s Royal Albert Hall. For almost 50 years, Guy has performed flamboyant live concerts of energetic blues and blues rock, predating the 1960s blues rockers. As a musician, he had a fundamental impact on the blues and on rock and roll, influencing a new generation of artists. Guy was ranked 23rd in Rolling Stone magazine’s 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. His song “Stone Crazy” was ranked 78th in Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time. In 2003, he was presented with the National Medal of Arts, awarded by the President of the United States. By 2004, Guy had also earned 34 Blues Music Awards (formerly WC Handy Awards, the most any artist has received), Billboard magazine’s Century Award (he was its second recipient) for distinguished artistic achievement. Guy was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005. And in 2012, Guy received the prestigious Kennedy Center Honor.

Born in Chicago in 1929, Victor Skrebneski studied painting and sculpture at the Art Institute of Chicago and at Lázló Moholy-Nagy’s Institute of Design in Chicago. There he showed some of his photographs to Harry Callahan, who complemented Skrebneski’s unique cropping and urged him to visit magazine editors in New York City—but frequent assignments from Marshall Field’s led to a flourishing career in Chicago, where he chose to stay and shoot ads. By 1962, Skrebneski had become the exclusive photographer for Estée Lauder and he continued that relationship for 27 years. His long-term relationships with other clients include Saks Fifth Avenue, Town & Country Magazine, Ralph Lauren, Chanel and Givenchy. Supermodel Cindy Crawford credits Skrebneski with launching her career. He has also photographed Paulina Porizkova, Willow Bay, Carmen Dell’Orefice, Iman, David Bowie, Audrey Hepburn, Bette Davis, Orson Welles, Truman Capote and Andy Warhol. His works are in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, George Eastman House and Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago. Frank Zachary, Town & Country’s influential editor-in-chief from 1972-1991, once noted of Skrebneski, “Victor is a Chicago boy who never left home, but became a citizen of the world through the medium of his art. Impeccably composed, immaculately rendered, the Skrebneski photograph is his universal passport.”

Jackie Taylor is the Founder and Executive Director of Black Ensemble Theater Company, currently celebrating its 40th anniversary. Founded in 1976, the Black Ensemble Theater has produced more than 100 productions, employed over 5,000 artists and gained a national reputation for outstanding, original productions and a dedication to its mission of eradicating racism. More than 8,000 youth are served each year by the Theater’s educational outreach programs. In 2011, the new Black Ensemble Theater Cultural Center opened its doors, following a $20 million capital campaign. Taylor was born in Chicago, and raised in the Cabrini Green housing project. She rose from modest roots to become a distinguished actress, singer, director, playwright, educator and theater founder. Taylor has had featured roles in several major films, including “Cooley High,” “Hoodlum,” “To Sir With Love – Part 2,” “The Father Clements Story,” “Barbershop 2” and “Chiraq.” She began producing her own shows as early as 1973. Jackie Taylor has written and produced more than 100 plays and musical biographies, including “The Marvin Gaye Story,” “All In Love Is Fair,” “I Am Who I Am (The Story of Teddy Pendergrass),” “God Is A Black Man Named Ricky,” “Those Sensational Soulful 60’s,” “The Other Cinderella,” “Somebody Say Amen,” “At Last: A Tribute To Etta James” and “The Jackie Wilson Story.” Taylor is also a respected educator; her “Strengthening the School Through Theater Arts” program serves students, their parents and teachers in inner-city elementary schools through training in the theater arts.

Carlos Tortolero is the Founder and President of the National Museum of Mexican Art (NMMA) in Chicago—the only Latino museum accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. From 1975-1987, Tortolero worked as a teacher, counselor and administrator in the Chicago Public Schools. The Museum opened its doors in 1987, and has since become a national model for its exhibits, performances, arts education programs and advocacy of cultural equity issues. Twenty exhibitions organized by the NMMA have traveled across the country and eight have traveled to Mexico. The Museum has 10,000 works in its permanent collection. Tortolero has won numerous awards for his work including the Ohtli Award, the highest honor given by the Secretary of Foreign Relations of Mexico to individuals “who have distinguished themselves in the services of the Mexican community outside of Mexico.” Recently, Tortolero was awarded an honorary Doctor of Arts degree by Columbia College Chicago, and he received the first-ever Tomás Ybarra-Frausto Award, presented at Latino Art Now!, the largest national Latino arts conference in the country. In addition, Tortolero has written articles for national and international publications; has made presentations across the U.S. and internationally; and has taught classes at University of Illinois at Chicago, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Northwestern University. Tortolero earned a B.A. in Secondary Education and History from the University of Illinois at Chicago and an M.A. in Bilingual Education Supervision from Chicago State University.

The Second City opened its doors on a snowy Chicago night in December of 1959, and has since grown to become the world’s premier comedy club, theatre and school of improvisation—with live shows every night in Chicago, Toronto and Hollywood. Bernard Sahlins, Howard Alk and Paul Sills, son of teacher Viola Spolin, founded the theater as a place where scenes and story were created improvisationally, using techniques that grew out of the innovative techniques Spolin developed and taught. The Second City chose its self-mocking name from the title of an article about Chicago by A. J. Liebling that appeared in The New Yorker in 1952. Andrew Alexander and his recently deceased partner Len Stuart acquired The Second City in 1987. Andrew Alexander has helmed The Second City for 42 years and has produced television programs in both the United States and Canada including “SCTV,” “Second City Presents” and “Next Comedy Legend.” Since its debut, The Second City has been a launching pad for comedians, actors, directors and others working in show business. Notable alumni include Alan Arkin, Dan Aykroyd, James Belushi, John Belushi, John Candy, Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, Rachel Dratch, Chris Farley, Tina Fey, Jeff Garlin, Ian Gomez, Bonnie Hunt, Richard Kind, Eugene Levy, Jane Lynch, Andrea Martin, Jack McBrayer, Tim Meadows, Bill Murray, Mike Myers, Catherine O’Hara, Gilda Radner, Harold Ramis, Joan Rivers, Amy Sedaris, Martin Short, George Wendt and Fred Willard, among many others.


For 2016 event details and to view tribute videos from past years, visit fifthstarawards.org—and join the conversation on Facebook (Fifth Star Awards and Millennium Park), Twitter @fifthstar_CHI and @Millennium_Park and Instagram @Millennium_Park.

The Fifth Star Awards is made possible through generous private support from Allstate Insurance Company, Exelon and GCM Grosvenor. Media support is provided by Chicago Transit Authority, Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Reader.


Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events

The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events is dedicated to enriching Chicago’s artistic vitality and cultural vibrancy. This includes fostering the development of Chicago’s non-profit arts sector, independent working artists and for-profit arts businesses; providing a framework to guide the City’s future cultural and economic growth, via the 2012 Chicago Cultural Plan; marketing the City’s cultural assets to a worldwide audience; and presenting high-quality, free and affordable cultural programs for residents and visitors.

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Jamey Lundblad    312.744.2493, jamey.lundblad@cityofchicago.org
Christine Carrino    312.744.0573, christine.carrino@cityofchicago.org