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Regina Harris Baiocchi

Chicagoan at a Glance

Favorite Chicago restaurant: Tuscany’s on Taylor
Favorite Chicago landmark: Buckingham Fountain
Favorite Chicago neighborhood: Bronzeville and Hyde Park
Favorite Chicago sports team: Bears, White Sox and Blackhawks
Favorite Chicago deep dish pizza joint: Blaze and California Pizza Kitchen
Chicago-style hot dogs: Veggie version

Why did you go into music - and specifically your field?

I became a musician because I loved the smell of my Dad’s fiddle, the sound of Mom’s voice and watching Grandmama’s feet when she played COGIC Gospel on B-3. I began writing music because I heard these incessant tunes in my head. I discovered that the best way to clear my head was to put the music on paper. So I keep writing and clearing and...


What's something quirky about how you do your craft that others don't?

I meditate before I write music. Then I listen as the music speaks to me. I hear better when I’m wearing my black suede boots.

What communities in Chicago do you identify with that have meaning to you and why?

I am a South sider because Bronzeville was my home. I lived in Chatham briefly as a child. The African American (and Diasporic) pulse can be taken by listening and watching people in Bronzeville. If it exists in the world, it exists in Bronzeville. Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, Thomas A. Dorsey, Mahalia Jackson, Richard Wright, Dorothy Donegan, Charles White, Richard Hunt, John H. Johnson, Robert Sengstacke, Nora Holt, the Luster Family, the rag man, the knife sharpener and many more people lived in Bronzeville.

What's a funny story about your time living or working in Chicago?

At age 9, I debuted playing guitar and singing in the Tiki Room at 61 East 24th Street, around the corner from the Chicago Daily Defender, an African American newspaper. My Mom’s Lady’s Sodality hired me to play for their tea. I was in love with tritones and dominant 7th chords. My first original song was called The Sound of Listening.  As I was tuning my guitar, my G string broke. I stood on stage in my pink ruffled dress, pink cat-eye glasses and cried. I was too paralyzed to run. My mind ran offstage. My feet were cemented to the floor. The ladies applauded to encourage me. The club president asked why I was crying. When I told her, she asked, “How many strings are left?    “Only five strings--” I explained that I needed 6 strings to play dominant 7th chords. “Well play your music on five strings. We’re paying to hear you sing and play guitar, not to cry—Besides we don’t even know what domino sevens are.” I cried through my entire set. But I earned my $25.00.