Ayana Contreras
Ayana Contreras.
Stories By

Ayana Contreras

Ayana Contreras.
Guillaume Ziccarelli

Ayana Contreras

Ayana Contreras is a cultural historian, memory worker, radio DJ and archivist. An avid collector with over 8000 vintage vinyl records, she hosts the Reclaimed Soul program on WBEZ and at Vocalo Radio in Chicago (where she also serves as Director of Content). She is a columnist for DownBeat magazine, and her writings have been published in Chicago Review, Oxford American, Bandcamp Daily and Lit Hub among other publications. Ayana was a 2014/15 University of Chicago Arts + Public Life Artist-In-Residence. In 2017, she received the Clementine Skinner Award by the Vivian Harsh Society, and was chosen as an Association of Independents in Radio (AIR) New Voices Scholar in 2015.

Her book on Post-Civil Rights Era cultural history, titled Energy Never Dies: Afro-Optimism and Creativity in Chicago, was published December 2021 through University of Illinois Press.

Story Archive

Beyoncé's long-awaited seventh solo album, Act I Renaissance, is due out Friday, July 29. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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The power of Beyoncé is about to change music... again

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Flo Milli's You Still Here, Ho? tops this week's shortlist of the best albums out on July 22. BANVOA/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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New Music Friday: The best releases out on July 22

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Brent Faiyaz's Wasteland tops our shortlist of the best albums out on July 8. Darren Xu/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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New Music Friday: The best releases out on July 8

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FKJ's VINCENT is one of NPR Music's picks for the best albums out on June 10. Jack McKain/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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New Music Friday: The best releases out on June 10

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R&B singer UMI's debut full-length, Forest in the City is one of NPR Music's picks for the best new albums out on May 27. Eddie Mandell hide caption

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Eddie Mandell

New Music Friday: The best releases out on May 27

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Pusha T's It's Almost Dry tops our shortlist of the best new albums out this week. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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New Music Friday: The best releases out on April 22

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Humble Quest, from Nashville singer Maren Morris, tops our shortlist this week of the best albums out on March 25. Harper Smith/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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New Music Friday: The top 5 albums out on March 25

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Rex Orange County's latest release, WHO CARES?, is on NPR Music's shortlist for the best albums out on March 11. Alexandra Waespi/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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New Music Friday: The top 5 albums out on March 11

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Robert Glasper's Black Radio III top's our shortlist for the best new albums out this week. Mancy Gant/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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New Music Friday: The top 5 albums out on Feb. 25

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Khruangbin's collaboration with Leon Bridges, Texas Moon, is one of NPR Music's picks for the best new records out on Feb. 18. Pooneh Ghana/Couttesy of the artist hide caption

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New Music Friday: The top 5 albums out on Feb. 18

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Amber Mark's stunning debut, Three Dimensions Deep, is on our shortlist of the best albums out on Jan. 28. Nelson Huang/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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New Music Friday: The top 5 albums out on Jan. 28

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Adele's long-awaited 30 tops NPR Music's picks for the best albums out on Nov. 19. Simon Emmett/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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New Music Friday: The top 7 albums out on Nov. 19

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Composer, producer and multi-instrumentalist Terrace Martin's new solo album, Drones, is one of NPR Music's picks for the best releases out on Nov. 5. Samantha Whitehead/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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New Music Friday: The top 8 albums out on Nov. 5

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Mon Laferte's 1940 Carmen is one of our picks for the best releases out on Oct. 29. Joel Orta/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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New Music Friday: The top 10 albums out on Oct. 29

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