photo credit: Matt Austin

My name is Ayana Contreras, and I am an artist that works in sound. I currently host & produce a show called “Reclaimed Soul” on Vocalo 91.1fm (a sister station to WBEZ). The program features an all-vinyl soundtrack from my personal collection, as well as audio documentaries I’ve produced about people who are using old items to create new artistic or cultural endeavors. I also interview original Chicago Soul artists and musicians.

I am a DJ and music historian. I collect records (LPs & 45s), and enjoy the stories behind them, especially those recorded locally.

I truly love Chicago: where we’re going and where we’ve been.

Darkjive is about arts and culture with a purpose, rooted in the community (but not without humor). It’s about inclusiveness and uniqueness. It’s about the many facets of creation in Chicago. It’s about our common history and varied goals.  It’s also about recognizing the value in the undervalued vestiges of what came before us (culturally… artistically… musically). What may have once been deemed obsolete, out of fashion, or otherwise lacking.  The jive.  I, for one, embrace the jive, the whole of our cultural inheritance.  So, jive on.


20 responses to “About

  • paolo.hunt

    very cool site. chicago could use this

  • bobby rocwell

    this blog is dope… been on here for the last few days… it’s good 4 my soul…=)

  • DaniaR

    loving this blog…so informational!

  • fatimasDad

    Keep it up Darkjive/you mix up the old school legends and the new young lions of our city.

  • marcomillions

    I found you by accident looking for something recent on Jerry Butler; hung around for the incomparable music you’ve put up here (did you need a copy of the Gems’ “What They Put Erasers on Pencils For”); but I’m staying for the culture–the people and the history you refuse to allow us to forget. I was born in Chicago 67 years ago; lived on the south side until I left town in ’74; you’ve brought it all back to me. Bless you. Jive on.

    • ayanacontreras

      Hi, marcomillions! I’m so glad you found and enjoy Darkjive… I think it’s great that this site both refreshes the memories of so many, and informs a whole new generation about all the cultural inheritance that lies just beneath the surface of this city! Of course, it’s a labor of love, but comments like yours make it worth it. By the way, if you haven’t already, check out my bit on Gousters versus Ivy Leaguers. I think it might be right up your alley.

      Jive on!

      • marcomillions

        HI Ayana! Thanks for your kind words. I caught the Gousters/Ivy Leaguers post already. (And I was very moved by your reader who wrote in with her own memories.) I think it was about then that I decided I had to write to you to thank you for this site and the effort you put into it. –Marc

  • Mary Neville

    Ayana, I saw your article on LaCade Shampoo. That is the BEST shampoo I ever used in my life when I was in my 20s. It was an amazing volumizing shampoo way before the word “volumizing” was used to describe certain types of hair products. It smelled like oranges and made me feel like I had the fullest head of hair ever. I was (still am) bummed that they went out of business. I remember their radio commercials on AM radio which got me to try it. Wish I could have a bottle (or case) of it right now. It was the BEST.

    • ayanacontreras

      Mary, that is quite the testimonial! One of the things I love most about working on this blog is the stories I get from readers. Thanks for sharing.

  • Brett Crenshaw

    Wow!! I like your work!!!! I caught wind of it thru Krista who I met recently at an Afrofuturism art exhibit she was in in Pittsburgh. She’s been feeding me the dope Chitown vibes ever since.

    I also exist in a space where archive and audio sound off together. And have spent many years on community radio in Atlanta and New York. I’m gonna keep my ear near your soundwaves. Best wishes.


    peace, Brett

  • ayanacontreras

    Very cool, Brett. I checked out your tumblr, and it, too is indeed dope. Color me tuned in.

  • Kenlo Key

    this is cool I stumbled upon your site looking up some info for my mom. her name is Pamela Colquitt. She was on soul train and recorded 45 that was popular in the Chicago area when she was seventeen. She is 61 now and I was showing her your site… you should look her up. She was on Jacklyn records…

  • Jon Grant

    There needs to be a good documentary about basement parties in the 1960’s. Went to a lot of basement parties in Harvey and 95th/Dan Ryan area. Some people had movie cameras and were taking pictures. It would be interesting for some people to see what the dances were really like.

  • Kimberly

    I found your website googling information for The Eight Minutes, I stayed around for the other areas you cover. I have never been to Chicago, it’s on the lifetime to do list! Great website to add to my growing number of bookmarks of creative and inspiring artists. Thank you –

  • James Commander (The MO Amper Sounds -o/b/o LuCor Music)

    Here is the info about the CD release celebrating Lucky Cordell’s life in music. Also, there will be a special vinyl release with “never before seen” artist photo cover designs.

    PS–Here are Lucky Cordell’s Memorial Service Arrangements:

    Monday, July 13, 2015
    Slaughter & Son Funeral Directors
    2024 E. 75th Street
    Chicago, IL 60649

    Visitation 4 p.m. – 6 p.m.
    Memorial Service 6 p.m. – 7 p.m.

    (773) 643-6033

    Phone #’s
    (773) 643-5355
    (773) 643-5356

  • Arthmus Odie

    well you would love my music collection

  • nico

    Tasty site, great commitment. Thank you.

  • pwingard62

    Great site – will definitely have to bookmark!

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