April 27 was a historic night in Chicago. Thousands of longtime Frankie Beverly & Maze supporters, many draped in all-white outfits, gathered at the United Center to watch their beloved and endearing icon be commemorated on what’s since been dubbed “Frankie Beverly Day” by Mayor Brandon Johnson. Maze frontman Frankie Beverly, 77, brought his “I Wanna Thank You Farewell Tour” to Chicago, including legendary singer Chaka Khan, the G7 Experience (formerly known as Lil G from 1990s R&B group Silk), and singer El Debarge.

Since Frankie Beverly and his band’s debut in 1977, their music has been the soundtrack to Black joy for generations of Black people for 47 years and counting. In Chicago specifically, their blissfully high vibrational hits like “Joy and Pain,” “Golden Time of Day,” “Happy Feeling,” and “Can’t Get Over You”  have long been the music to our summer barbeques, family reunions, Sunday morning clean-ups and weekday morning commutes. 

So many Frankie Beverly songs could be heard in heavy rotation back in the day — and even still today— on Chicago radio stations, an example of such soulful radio programs include V103 with the late Herb Kent’s “Battle of the Bands” and Tom Joyner’s “Morning Show,” and WNUA 95.5’s smooth jazz station. His most popular song to this day, “Before I Let Go,” was remade by Beyoncé in 2019 on her Homecoming album, introducing new generations and audiences to his timeless jams.

“My favorite song from them is ‘Golden Time of Day,’” Chicago native and Death Row Records legendary singer Danny Boy said while closing out the farewell tour with a song he sang to Frankie Beverly, a Philadelphia native. 

Handing him a bouquet, Danny Boy said Frankie Beverly’s music influenced him while growing up out west. The essence of Frankie Beverly & Maze’s songs fits so well within the rhythm of Chicago music culture, he added, as Chicagoans love stepping and line dancing to the band’s classic grooves.

Frankie Beverly and Maze fans dancing and singing at the Frankie Beverly Farewell Tour on April 27, 2024 at United Center. Photo by Sterling Hightower for The TRiiBE®

“I remember hearing that as a shorty in lounges here,” Danny Boy said. “My momma raised me in church and my daddy raised me in what we call taverns and I always had the opportunity to sit at the jukebox and hear his music so I think he means a lot of Chicago.”

As one of the younger children and the leading face of the soulful DeBarge family, El Debarge opened the show with his honey-coated falsettos on “All This Love.” He kept his foot on the gas throughout his whole set, bringing us back to the golden era when it was more common for male R&B singers to offer warmer vulnerability, crooning and begging in their love songs to women with much richer vocals, compared to mainstream male singers today like Chris Brown and Brent Faiyaz, just to name a few, who are influenced by the hypermasculine and misogynistic elements from rap. However, the warmth and vulnerable masculinity that the artists from the 1970s like DeBarge and Beverly offered are resurging with singers like October London, J. Howell, Kevin Ross, SiR, and Sacred Souls, the latter with their viral hit “Can I Call You Rose?”

Chicago’s queen of funk, Chaka Khan, also celebrated 50 years of music on the tour. She arrived on stage with her band and signature, stylish purple and gold fan in hand, with all of the flair, attitude, and superstar presence that she always delivers performing her invigorating anthems like “I’m Every Woman” and “Ain’t Nobody.” She opened her set with a video recap of archival footage of her interviews and performances throughout the 1970s and 80s. The tour was just as much of a homecoming for her as she grew up in Hyde Park, attended Kenwood High School, has a street dedicated to her nearby, and was once an important member of the Chicago chapter of the Black Panther Party. Her career began in Chicago as she was a standout member of the band Rufus in the 1970s until the group split in 1983.

Chaka Khan co-starring on the Frankie Beverly Farewell Tour on April 27, 2024 at United Center. Photo by Sterling Hightower for The TRiiBE®

Chicago has a long history of creating soulful feel-good music going back to the Great Migration starting in the 1910s. The city was the birthplace of gospel music in the 1920s, and house music in the late 1970s and early 80s. Although the blues originated in the deep south, Chicago added its own flair through Black pioneers like Buddy Guy and Muddy Waters, making Chicago its own blues capital. There’s also the rise of steppin’ music in the 1970s. 

What makes Frankie Beverly’s serene-sounding music so special for generations of Black Chicagoans, in particular, is the heavenly combination of the chill frequencies in his music, deep instrumentation from Maze, his rich, comforting voice, and the honest, but wholesome messages in his lyrics about life as heard on songs like “Joy and Pain.” It’s the perfect soundtrack to a warm, sunny spring day, which ironically greeted concertgoers walking inside the United Center.

“As soon as that weather breaks, and you get that morning when you wake up [and] it’s like 75, 80 degrees, your uncle and your pops on the grill, and you wake up as a kid to Frankie Beverly & Maze and the smell of the grill. And you wake up and the whole neighborhood — it’s not just one grill going, it’s lots of grills. That’s part of the foundation of this city, we’re built on that,”  said Johnny “6ravo” Rayborn, a veteran music producer, engineer, and owner of 6ravo Studios (pronounced as Bravo).

Frankie Beverly and Maze fans enjoying the last concert at the Frankie Beverly Farewell Tour on April 27, 2024 at United Center. Photo by Sterling Hightower for The TRiiBE®

For Evan F. Moore, an author and veteran culture journalist, Frankie Beverly & Maze’s music resonates specifically with Black America. The TRiiBE spoke to him about their impact.

“Their soundtrack is specific to Black America. They represent the best of us when you think about it,” Moore explained. “We get inundated with so many terrible things that’s happened to the diaspora, why not celebrate the good times? Their music is therapy.” 

Many fans who attended the farewell show in Chicago are lifelong followers of the band, some remember watching Frankie Beverly perform on TV and in venues like Soldier Field and the Arie Crown Theater. Carol Ann Jones, a Chicago woman who loves to perform his songs at talent competitions, said he represents the joy of Chicago.

“I think he represents the stepping side of Chicago, the love connection with Chicago. He hasn’t made a record in 20 years but everywhere he goes, we follow him,” Jones said.

And wherever his lifelong supporters go, they’re always dressed to the nines in all-white outfits.

Arthur Coleman, who is from the West Side, explained that the white that Frankie Beverly wears represents the beauty of life.

“The idea of white is beauty. White is pure, and in all of the concerts when he does come here, we wear white. He’s representing and we’re representing the beauty of life,” Coleman said.

The show was an intergenerational experience as people of all ages were joyfully dancing out of their seats and stepping all across the aisles of the United Center. As Frankie Beverly & Maze ran through hit after hit, it looked as if Beverley was fueled by the love and dancing of his fans and delivered an unbelievably powerful performance.

Torrie Carter, a millennial from Kankakee, Ill., brought tickets for her and her 80-year-old mother Priscella Greene, a lifelong fan.

“We grew up with him. We listened to our parents groove to him. He has shown our generation what it means to make good music and not have to make another song and still survive, still pack a house,” Carter said.

Priscella Greene attended with her millennial-aged children because she wanted them to see what the legendary singers of her prime were like in person.

“I love his singing and I wanted my children to see him too because he’s one of the old-timers [from] back in my day, and I wanted them to know that this is real singing. He has a beautiful voice and he looks like a very sweet-hearted person,” Greene said.

Photo by Sterling Hightower for The TRiiBE®

For all of their cultural impact, gold-certified records, and Billboard chart-topping hits, Frankie Beverly was never honored by any of the major music institutions such as the Recording Academy (Grammy Award) or the American Music Awards. 

In 2024, however, Frankie Beverly was honored by the NAACP with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 55th NAACP Image Awards.

“I think that awards sometimes don’t tell the full story. They’ve won the award in life because look at how many times they’ve closed out the Essence Festival. The award is that publishing. The award is the fact that people can come to see them time and time again and it never gets old,” Rayborn said.

The audience erupted when Frankie Beverly took us home with “Before I Let Go,” the final song on his setlist. Stopping in Chicago for one final show meant everything to his endearing fans in the Windy City. One follower, Angela Cobbins, who saw him 42 years ago at the Rosemont Theatre and has never missed a show since said that younger generations will continue to enjoy Frankie Beverly & Maze music forever.

“My kids and my grandkids listen to them and my great-great-grandkids will be listening to Frankie Beverly & Maze way down the line after we’re gone because his music will never go away. And it’s important to Chicago because they need to know what music is and he knows what music is,” she said.

is a freelance writer for The TRiiBE.