“House Music” is a Chicago original — a genre of dance music now known the world over that was born, nurtured and developed in Chicago by young DJs, artists, producers, party promoters and club owners whose collective contributions forged a new sound from elements of disco, Euro dance music, rock and of course, drum machines.
Beginning in the late 1970s and into the early 1980s, a group of popular teen DJs from Chicago’s south side — Wayne Williams, Jesse Saunders, Alan King, Tony Hatchett and Andre Hatchett — played their unique brand of soulful dance music to huge crowds in packed basements, high school cafeterias and legendary nightspots, including Sauer’s, the Tree of Life, First Impressions, the Playground and the Loft, a club of historic importance in the birth and development of house music. Wayne Williams formalized a DJ collective, originally named “Chosen Few Disco Corp.” in 1977 to meet the high demand for the sound, eventually adding Saunders, King and the Hatchett brothers. In 2006, the group added its first new member in nearly 30 years, legendary DJ and producer Terry Hunter, and in 2012 welcomed DJ and producer Mike Dunn into the ranks.
Along with a handful of other legendary DJs including Frankie Knuckles at the Warehouse, Ron Hardy at the Music Box and Lil’ Louis on the west side of Chicago, the Chosen Few were the DJs primarily responsible during this period for popularizing the underground dance music that came to be known as house music.
In 1990, the Chosen Few DJs and their longtime friend and Chosen Few member, Kim Parham, had the idea of inviting old friends from the early house music days to a “reunion picnic” in the park behind Chicago’s Museum of Science & Industry. Beginning as a small gathering of family and friends and later dubbed the “old school picnic,” the reunion became an annual event, “The Chosen Few Old School Reunion Picnic”.
More than 25 years later, this small reunion of friends has grown into one of the largest and most highly anticipated house music festival events in the world, drawing more than 50,000 house music fans from nearly every continent. In 2016, this daylong”Woodstock of House Music” in Chicago’s Jackson Park was expanded into a two-day event and renamed “The Chosen Few DJs Picnic & Music Festival”, and features performances from world renowned guest DJs and dance music artists and of course, the legendary Chosen Few DJs.
While the Picnic & Festival has grown to unimaginable proportions, the Chosen Few DJs remain committed to presenting a “family reunion” atmosphere. This unique event is a true celebration of family and friends, food and fun, and a part of Chicago’s rich musical history and culture.
In addition to holding residencies and appearing regularly at some of Chicago’s hottest nightspots and producing top soulful house tracks, the Chosen Few DJs and their individual members routinely play to rave reviews nationally and internationally, including Cielo and Sullivan Room in New York, Tambor Party in Atlanta, the Winter Music Conference in Miami and the Amsterdam Dance Event.
The group and its individual members have been featured in dozens of news stories, books and films about house music and its history and culture, including Chip’s E’s documentary, “The Unusual Suspects: Once Upon a Time in House Music”; Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton’s acclaimed book, “Last Night a DJ Saved My Life”; and profiles and appearances in Ebony, Jet, Vice’s THUMP, “Doug Banks Show”, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Reader and Chicago Public Radio. In 2016, TV One’s “Unsung” documentary on Frankie Knuckles and the Roots of House Music chronicled the rise of the genre and featured interviews from Chosen Few DJS Wayne Williams, Jesse Saunders, Alan King and Terry Hunter.
We welcome you to our site, where you’ll find event information, DJ bios, music and of course, details on the 2017 Chosen Few DJs Picnic & Music Festival. We hope you enjoy your visit, and plan to join us on the dance floor soon!