Prairie Fire: Episode 9 - February 2024


This month on Prairie Fire, we meet "Candy" Foster, one of central Illinois' biggest names in R&B and blues and Eric Robinson, a historian and expert on the Illinois Underground Railroad. We also introduce you to a new initative at Illinois Public Media to amplify Black Voices: Illinois Soul.


Candy Foster

At the tender age of 86, Gerald "Candy" Foster knows a thing or two about how to keep a crowd happy.  Foster, who was born and raised in Danville, is one of the most recognizable names in R&B and blues classics in Central Illinois.  He's played scores of clubs, halls, bars, hotels and stages big and small all over the state, but especially in Central Illinois.  He became interested in music watching his mother rehearse for her own gigs in their Danville home when he was a young child.  Later, Foster would spend afternoons after school in the local record store listening to everything from opera to R&B. Throughout much of his career, he found himself playing at military bases across the Midwest and eventually opened his own lounge in the late 80s. Foster now fronts his biggest band yet and isn't planning on retirement any time soon.


The Illinois Underground Railroad

The Underground Railroad has a long and storied history in this country, but you may not realize how much of that history exists within Ilinois. Eric Robinson details the routes that escaped slaves would have traveled along and stops that can still be seen today. 

Illinois Soul

On February 1, 2024, Illinois Public Media launched Illinois Soul, a not-for-profit public radio station. FM 101.1 elevates Black voices, music, and culture throughout central Illinois, and online, with the power of public media. Illinois Soul airs NPR shows, produces local news for broadcast and the Web, and works hand-in-hand with the community to address their needs and concerns. It is also available on 90.9 FM HD2. Meet Jill Clements, one of the many individuals who made this station a reality, and learn more about Illinois Soul's mission and plans for the future.