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ݮƵ alum hosts Chicago talk show featuring musicians, soul food

Two Black men on a white podcast set
Soul Karaoke creator and host Calvin Callins Jr. talks with Master Steve—musician, artist, and storyteller—on episode four.

ݮƵ alum hosts Chicago talk show featuring musicians, soul food

Two Black men on a white podcast set
Soul Karaoke creator and host Calvin Callins Jr. talks with Master Steve—musician, artist, and storyteller—on episode four.

Chicago YouTube talk show had its origins as a Black History Month celebration at ݮƵ College of Art and Design, starting in 2021. Back then, host ’23, Film, was a sophomore who just wanted to give his fellow students a chance to celebrate Black music and try soul food.

“I had a live band and I had karaoke set up,” Callins explained during a June 23 interview on. “Here I am revamping it so I can show it to the whole world.”

The inspiration for the revamp came in part from Callins’ enthusiasm for Chicago’s vibrant music, entertainment, and culinary scenes. Originally from Plant City, Florida, Callins said that in Chicago, “around every corner, there’s creators.”

Callins serves as both host and producer of SoulKaraoke, which just finished recording its four-episode first season. In each episode, Callins speaks to a different Chicago-area musician about their career, inspirations, and influences while they sample locally prepared soul food dishes like candied sweet potatoes or crab mac ‘n cheese.

Callins then invites his guest to perform a song honoring an iconic Black musician. The first season features songs by Bill Withers, Stevie Wonder, Prince, and Etta James.

Having produced the first season through grants and his own graduation money, Callins is now searching for agencies who can help it grow through season two. He said he already has notable guests lined up.

In addition to his ݮƵ College film training, Callins said, “All the skills that it takes to produce SoulKaraoke actually came from what I learned doing the student activities role that I had on campus—like coordinating, scheduling, budgeting.”

He told ABC7 that he loves to see different people of various ethnicities connecting to “music that comes from the soul.” SoulKaraoke, he added, “brings two different worlds together so we can all just celebrate each other.”

You can watch all four episodes plus the trailer on the . Season one guests have included Louie Kaczmarek, Daryn Alexus, Jocey, and Master Steve.

Towards the end of each episode, guests perform live backed by the incredible We Just Friends Band, pictured. 

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