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Performers at The State of Sound at Navy Pier

Aug. 15, 2023 | One-of-a-kind tribute to Illinois’ musical legends extended through Sept. 25, 2023

“The State of Sound: A World of Music from Illinois” Extends its Popular Stay at Navy Pier through Chicago Live! Weekend

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CHICAGO— Navy Pier is extending The State of Sound: A World of Music from Illinois – a one-of-a-kind exhibit showcasing the achievements and contributions of The Land of Lincoln’s music greats – for an additional month, through Monday, Sept. 25. This move makes the award-winning exhibit accessible to the hundreds of thousands of Chicagoans and out-of-town visitors expected for Navy Pier’s free performing arts festival, Chicago Live!, Sept. 23-24.

The State of Sound celebrates the musicians, legendary radio stations, and homegrown musical gear that have shaped the sonic history of Illinois and the world. Rare treasures from Muddy Waters, REO Speedwagon, Cheap Trick, Earth Wind and Fire, and Smashing Pumpkins are on display. The exhibit is organized by musical genre, from jazz to country to house. Display cases present artifacts from artists in each genre. Wall panels of text and photos explain the musical significance of hundreds of artists.

Also among featured artists in the exhibit is R&B legend and Chicago Live! headliner Mavis Staples. Acclaimed as both a Blues and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, Staples’ Grammy® Award-powered set will be one of more than 80 free performances taking place back-to-back on three Pier stages during Chicago Live!

The State of Sound exhibit on display at Navy Pier is an updated version of the award-winning presentation created in 2021 by the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, the state’s official historical library. The State of Sound was conceived as way to celebrate the state’s incredible contributions to America’s musical legacy and tell stories from all corners of Illinois. Navy Pier’s exhibit is the first time State of Sound and the many rare items it features have been seen outside of the presidential library.

The exhibition at Navy Pier also resurrects the acclaimed showpiece written by award-winning author, documentary producer, and former Chicago Sun-Times columnist Dave Hoekstra. The free exhibit is housed on the first floor of Navy Pier’s Festival Hall and open to guests during all Pier operating hours.

Some items on display include:

  • Brett Eldredge – Lyrics for the Song “Illinois”
  • Wilco – Jeff Tweedy’s hat
  • John Prine – stage materials
  • Steve Goodman – Handwritten lyrics for “City of New Orleans”
  • Sones de Mexico – Donkey Jaw Instrument
  • Eddie Blazonczyk – Grammy Award
  • Frankie Knuckles – Turntable
  • Earth Wind & Fire – 8-track of I Am Album & Press Kit
  • Nat King Cole – Tape Box from 1953 Blue Note Concert
  • Buddy Guy – Bejeweled Wah-wah Pedal
  • Howlin’ Wolf – Harmonica and Rock Hall Plaque
  • Cheap Trick – Rick Nielsen’s Hat, Bow Tie and Guitar Picks
  • REO Speedwagon – Diamond Sales Award for Hi Infidelity
  • Mahalia Jackson – Performance Contract
  • Thomas Dorsey – Sheet Music
  • Curtis Mayfield – Grammy Nomination Plaque for Freddie’s Dead
  • Jimmy Chamberlin / Smashing Pumpkins – Drumsticks

In addition to the exhibit, guests can listen to the podcast that will explore the great achievements and contributions of Illinois’ most talented musicians in The State of Sound: A World of Music from Illinois exhibition at Navy Pier.

Click here for photos of the artists and the exhibit.

Note: All activities, times, and dates are subject to change.


The mission of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum is to inspire civic engagement through the diverse lens of Illinois history and sharing with the world the life and legacy of Abraham Lincoln. We pursue this mission through a combination of rigorous scholarship and high-tech showmanship built on the bedrock of ALPLM’s unparalleled collection of historical materials. For more information, visit Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (


Located on Lake Michigan, Navy Pier is the top nonprofit tourism destination in the Midwest, stretching more than six city blocks and typically welcoming nearly 9 million annual guests. Originally opened in 1916 as a shipping and recreation facility, this Chicago landmark showcases more than 50 acres of parks, restaurants, attractions, retail shops, sightseeing and dining cruise boats, exposition facilities and more. The Pier celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2016 with the unveiling of the iconic Centennial Wheel, Polk Bros Park, Fifth Third Bank Family Pavilion and Peoples Energy Welcome Pavilion. In 2021, Navy Pier continued to usher in its second century with ongoing Pier-wide redevelopment efforts—including Sable, a 223-room Hilton hotel, new restaurants and partnerships, and thrilling additions to Pier Park. The Pier is also proud to continue providing free, year-round arts and cultural programming designed to inspire, educate and connect communities across the city and globe. Click here to donate to Navy Pier, a mission-driven 501(c)(3) organization, in support of the organization’s post-pandemic revival and free public programming. For more information, visit



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