By Scott Jonlich | Photos by Victor Hilitski
Cathy Richardson is one of Hinsdale Central’s most famous Hall of Fame members. She lived in Burr Ridge while attending Hinsdale Central and graduated in 1987. To quote her induction statement as a 2020 Hall of Fame inductee, “Her music career was in full swing at Central, where she was part of the vocal music department. She participated in the spring performances of the operetta as well as the Madrigal singers.”
Today, Cathy is the lead singer for the band Jefferson Starship. In her career, she has written, produced, and released many albums and has sung on many national television and radio commercials. In 1999, Richardson was cast as Janis Joplin in the musical biopic “Love, Janis.” In 2018, singer-songwriter and fellow Jefferson Airplane member Grace Slick invited Richardson to sing in her place when Jefferson Airplane accepted its Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. The story from sister publication Elmhurst Magazine highlights her current activities. As a resident of Elmhurst since 1995, she recently joined the Elmhurst Centre for Performing Arts Board.
Recently, Cathy Richardson, the lead singer for Jefferson Starship, who also happens to live in Elmhurst, has joined the Board of Directors for the Elmhurst Centre For Performing Arts, (ECPA).
This big news is just in time as the Board embarks on a shift in its fund-raising effort with an April 15 Gala. As ECPA Board Member Laura Michaud puts it, “Cathy sees ECPA’s potential and needs through the lens of a top-level artist, and we are delighted to have her.”
In a recent Elmhurst Magazine exclusive interview, Cathy elaborated, “I have been extremely fortunate to perform all over the world and I have come to understand what a venue should offer to performers, and what a venue should offer to audiences. I also think I can help in fundraising, certainly by performing; and by offering auctions of autographed guitars and other memorabilia, among other ideas.”
“And, last, but not least, I know people in the world of music whom I can help bring to Elmhurst. I have a commitment from Jefferson Starship to perform on opening night.”
“All in all, I love the idea of what ECPA can mean to the community, and to the considerable talent in this town.”
In speaking further with Laura Michaud, a founder of Chicago performing arts venue, Stage 773, she gave us this perspective: “For decades, many attempted initiatives took place in support of the arts in Elmhurst to establish a venue for performing arts. Certainly, the talent is here: Elmhurst Symphony, the Elmhurst Children’s Theater, Elmhurst University Jazz Band, DuPage Dance Studio, and award-winning York High School musical shows, among others, provide a steady stream of talented local people to perform. The problem has been a lack of a venue. Groups have been predominantly performing in churches, schools, even bars.”
”So, in 2016, in discussions with several interested artists, business people, and an architect, we formed a Board and began our initiative for the “Elmhurst Centre For Performing Arts”.
“After much work and many studies ensuring viability, land for ECPA was secured in 2019 on 1st Avenue. It is in the heart of Elmhurst’s City Centre and just steps away from the Elmhurst train station, making it easy for people in the surrounding areas to attend.”
“Aside from myself, the Board includes architect Jeff Budgell, as Chairman, Doug Peterson, President of Chicago Records Management, CPA Cheryl Peterson, Rebecca Marianetti, Head of Theater and Choral Activities, York High School, Mark Hale, of Wintrust Bank, former Mayor Tom Marcucci, as an honorary board member, Cathy Richardson and more.”
“After the lull of the pandemic between 2019 and 2022, the momentum is back and the timing is right.
Not only do we have Cathy, but we have other board members who also have a passion for the arts and a desire to help fundraise. We have added Nicole Alvarez, a lawyer who has a huge interest in dance, Monica Shah, a professional project manager for a major consulting company, and Francis Pepitone, a marketing specialist who recently moved from Chicago, and loves live theatre.”
The City of Elmhurst, along with ECPA, have shared expenses for multiple studies on the economic impact on the city, and the financial feasibility of the centre. The latest Economic impact study has estimated that for every person attending an ECPA event, the nearby business community gains $60 in revenue. She adds, “ECPA meets with city officials and Mayor Scott Levin on a regular basis.”
“We have even created a video to illustrate what could be possible.” (Go to www.ecpa-elmhurst.org to see the video.)
She says, “Timing is better now, too. There’s always been interest in the arts in the western suburbs and it is even better now with the demographic shift we have seen over the last 10 years. Newer residents, from Chicago, enjoy and live in downtown Elmhurst. Many of these couples, empty nesters, and singles are also interested in the arts. ECPA will add to the downtown ‘vibe’”.
Michaud adds, “As a result of all these factors coming together, we are preparing to unveil a capital fundraising campaign in 2023.”
For more information on how to support the ECPA, visit www.ecpa-elmhurst.org/support-us/ ■