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Portal:Illinois

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Illinois is a state in the Midwestern United States. It is the 5th most populous and 25th largest state, and is often noted as a microcosm of the country. With Chicago and its suburbs in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal, timber, and petroleum in the south, Illinois has a diverse economic base and is a major transportation hub.

Prehistoric Illinois was the site of Cahokia, the largest urban center of the Mississippian culture. The Illinois Confederation, from which the state takes its name, dominated the region during the contact period, but by the time of the American Revolution, only about 2,000 Native Americans and a small number of French villagers inhabited the area. Anglo-American settlers began arriving from Kentucky in the 1810s. Illinois achieved statehood in 1818. Northerners arrived later via the Great Lakes, founding Chicago in the 1830s. The invention of the steel plow and growth of railroads made it possible to profitably farm the rich prairie land of central Illinois, attracting large numbers of immigrant farmers from Germany and Sweden. Northern Illinois provided major support for Illinoisans Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant during the American Civil War. By 1900, industry was growing rapidly in the northern cities, along with coal mines in central and southern areas. This industrialization attracted large numbers of immigrants from Eastern and Southern Europe and many African Americans in the Great Migration from the Southern United States, who developed renowned jazz and blues cultures in Chicago.

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Uncle Tupelo was an alternative country music group from Belleville, Illinois, active between 1987 and 1994. Jay Farrar, Jeff Tweedy, and Mike Heidorn formed the band after the lead singer of their previous band, The Primitives, left to attend to college. The trio recorded three albums for Rockville Records, before signing with Sire Records and expanding to a five-piece. Shortly after the release of the band's major label debut album Anodyne, Farrar announced his decision to leave the band due to a soured relationship with his co-songwriter Tweedy. Uncle Tupelo split on May 1, 1994, after completing a farewell tour. Following the breakup, Farrar formed Son Volt, while the remaining members continued as Wilco.

Although Uncle Tupelo broke up before it achieved commercial success, the band is renowned for its impact on the alternative country music scene. The group's first album, No Depression, became a byword for the genre and influenced artists such as Whiskeytown. Uncle Tupelo's sound was unlike popular country music of the time, drawing inspiration from styles as diverse as the hardcore punk of The Minutemen and the country instrumentation and harmony of the Carter Family and Hank Williams. Farrar and Tweedy lyrics frequently referenced Middle America and the working class of Belleville. (Read more...)

Selected biography

Krauss live, September 24, 2011

Alison Krauss is an American bluegrass-country singer and fiddle player. She entered the music industry at a young age, winning local contests by the age of ten and recording for the first time on her brother's album at fourteen. She signed with Rounder Records in 1985 and released her first solo album at sixteen in 1987. She was invited to join the band with which she still performs, Alison Krauss & Union Station (AKUS), and later released her first album with them as a group in 1989.

She has thus far released more than ten albums, appeared on numerous soundtracks, and has been credited by audiophiles with helping to usher in a new interest in bluegrass music in the United States. Her soundtrack performances have led to further popularity, including the Grammy-winning O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack, an album also credited with raising American interest in bluegrass, and the Cold Mountain soundtrack, which led to her performance at the 2004 Academy Awards. During her career she has won 20 Grammy Awards—more than any other female artist and tied for seventh-most among all artists—along with numerous other awards. (Read more...)

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Illinoisoldcapitol.jpg
The Old State Capitol in Springfield, Illinois. Designed by John F. Rague in a Greek Revival style, the building is the Capitol that Abraham Lincoln worked in. The building also served at the Sangamon County courthouse from 1868 to 1961.
Photo credit: User:Agriculture

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