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Kurt Elling to Perform at the 2016 N'Digo Foundation Benefit

Hermene Hartman, long-time Chicago publisher and educator, established The N’Digo Foundation in 1994 to benefit Chicagoland students.

“One of the most important things you can do in life is to educate yourself,” says Ms. Hartman. “It is the preparation for enlightenment and the economics of a person’s life.” To date, The N’Digo Foundation has provided 297 scholarships to students throughout the Chicagoland area by hosting an annual grand Gala complete with fine dining, world-class entertainment and the opportunity to mingle with some of the city’s finest citizens.

This year will mark the 20th Anniversary of the Gala and Ms. Hartman is encouraging members of the community to once again turn out for this magnificent event. “We want people to know that this is not only an amazing party, but a real opportunity to give back to our community and our future, the children of Chicago,” says Ms. Hartman. “We have so much wealth, prosperity and success in this amazing city; I look forward to seeing some of these resources being shared with our youth.”

This year’s Gala, “A Jazzy Evening,” will be held on Sunday, June 12, 2016 at the Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago campus. Featuring Grammy Award Winner Kurt Elling, originally from Hyde Park, and introducing Zemrah, the evening also includes a grand buffet, libations, and even an after party. The Master of Ceremonies for the evening is Art Norman from NBC-TV.

Mr. Elling is one of America’s foremost contemporary jazz vocalists, whose career began in Chicago where he often appeared at The Green Mill. With 12 albums under his belt, Mr. Elling has a new release scheduled for June 2016 with Brandon Marsalis. The Gala will open with jazz vocalist Zemrah, whose music is reminiscent of classic jazz singers with a modern twist. The first 100 ticket buyers will receive a free CD from both Kurt Elling and Zemrah.

In addition to spectacular Jazz entertainment, the Gala will also honor Chicagoans who have excelled in the fields of education, religion, cultural innovation, business and media. Karen Lewis, President of the Chicago Teachers Union will be honored for her tireless efforts on behalf of teachers and students, while Pastor John Hannah from New Life Covenant Church will be recognized for his contributions to Chicago’s faith community. Theaster Gates, Jr. a University of Chicago professor in Visual Arts as well as the Director of Arts in Public Life, is being praised for his artistic endeavors, while businessman Alex Pissios, CEO for Cinespace Chicago Film Studio, where television shows like “Empire” and “Chicago Fire” are filmed, will be recognized for the singular mix of entertainment, education and employment opportunities his company is offering the North Lawndale community. The award for media will be presented to Brandon Smith, the freelance journalist that pushed the City of Chicago police to release the Laquan McDonald shooting video to the public.

“Being a former educator, I know the power a good education can have on an individual’s life,” says Ms. Hartman. “It is through the generosity and commitment of this great community that we have been able to make dreams come true for these young people.”

Past scholarship recipients have been able to attend universities from all over the country, including Harvard, Yale, the University of Chicago, the University of Michigan, Chicago State University, City Colleges of Chicago, DePaul University and Roosevelt University among others.

Tickets for the full event, which include dining, drinking, entertainment, the award ceremony and the after party, cost $300 and can be purchased by calling 800-838-3006 or visiting online at Tickets for just the award ceremony, entertainment and the after party cost $150 and can be purchased by calling 312-264-6274 or visiting online at

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