Grammy-winning artist Common to give MLK Week keynote at North Central College

Dec 20, 2013

North Central College welcomes Grammy Award-winning artist, actor and author Common Jan. 21 as Martin Luther King Jr. Week keynote speaker.

Each year, North Central College honors and remembers King with a keynote presentation, musical tributes, a prayer breakfast and activities. King spoke in North Central College’s Pfeiffer Hall in 1960.

Common, called the “King of Conscious Hip-Hop,” will deliver the College’s keynote address titled “Greatness!” at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 21, in Pfeiffer Hall, 310 E. Benton Ave. Tickets are $10/person and available for purchase after Jan. 6; call the North Central College Box Office at 630-637-SHOW (7469). A Q&A will follow his talk.

Common rose to prominence as one of hip-hop’s most poetic, innovative and respected lyricists, having recorded nine studio albums; his latest is titled “The Dreamer/The Believer.” He partnered with Chicago native and rap music megastar Kanye West to produce “BE” and “Finding Forever.” Their partnership resulted in four Grammy Award nominations and two MTV Video Music Award nominations.

He made his big-screen debut in 2006 as a musical performer in “Dave Chappelle’s Block Party” and his Hollywood debut in 2007, costarring opposite Jeremy Piven, Ben Affleck, Alicia Keys and Ryan Reynolds in “Smokin’ Aces.” Since then, he’s costarred with Denzel Washington in “American Gangster,” in “Street Kings” starring Keanu Reeves and Forest Whitaker, in “Wanted” opposite Angelina Jolie and Morgan Freeman, and others. His first starring role was in the 2010 film “Just Wright” with Queen Latifah.

An author, he’s written three children’s books, including “I Like You But I Love Me” which was nominated for an NAACP Image Award, and an adult book, his memoir titled “One Day It’ll All Make Sense.” In addition, Common is the face of the Diesel men’s fragrance Only the Brave, the creator of his Italian hat line SOJI, and partner with Microsoft on its Softwear clothing line.

In 2007, he launched the Common Ground Foundation, an organization dedicated to the empowerment and development of America’s urban youth. 

In addition to the keynote address, this year’s MLK Week celebration includes the Chicago Sinfonietta performance of its “Annual Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.” with help from Nicole Cash’s horn and Elizabeth Norman’s soprano voice, a thought-provoking multimedia work “Mountain Top,” and the powerful voices of the Apostolic Church of God Sanctuary Choir. The performance begins at 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 19, in North Central’s Wentz Concert Hall. Visit for tickets.

An art exhibit, titled “The Chicago Freedom Movement Photography,” is presented by Bernard J. Kleina, Jan. 17 through March 2, at North Central’s Schoenherr Gallery at the Fine Arts Center. Kleina’s work reveals a snapshot of Dr. Martin Luther King’s visits to Chicago through rare, historic color photographs along with contemporary photographs.

Nicor Gas is underwriting sponsor of Martin Luther King Jr. Week and Black History Month at North Central College. These events are among the many ongoing programs at North Central College to enrich and broaden the cultural and academic outlook for the College and community. For a comprehensive schedule of musical performances, theatrical productions, art exhibits and more, visit or call the box office at 630-637-SHOW (7469).