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  • Writer's pictureMonique Wingard

DuSable: Ethnic Heritage Ensemble


Tonight I stepped outside of my old-school r&b/hip-hop box to experience something new. What an adventure that turned out to be…

The Ethnic Heritage Ensemble, led by Chicago native and Jazz great, Kahil El’Zabar was an experience like none other.

While the music was no doubt amazing, it was the documentary screening that really grabbed my attention. Not knowing a thing about Mr. El’Zabar prior to this event, I sat in shock – at one point, disgust – and eventually bursting with laughter during the debut of his biographical documentary, entitled “Be Known.”

In an interview with WBEZ‘s Afternoon Shift, El’Zabar admits that while some parts of the documentary do not show him in the best light, he accepts and embraces the realities of his life without shame.

“At the end of the day, I’ve come to accept it and can live with it with honor,” said El’Zabar. “…Even with all of the frailties… Because it is my life.”

I left with a new appreciation for my new home, the DuSable Museum for organizing this event, and even Mr. El’Zabar. I had so many questions for him when the show ended. I knew it would be near impossible to have a chance to speak with him immediately after the show, so I left wondering:

  1. How has being a father humbled you? If at all…

  2. With so much of your personal life being covered in the documentary – much of it having to do with your tumultuous relationships with women. What would be your number one piece of advice to your daughter, who will one day come to you for advice on dating, life, and love? (Kinda touchy, I know. But I’m not joking… I want(ed) to know!)

  3. Who or what inspires you?

  4. What gives you the courage to be your authentic self?

Read more about El’Zabar and the debut of his documentary here.


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