John Ludwig could not become desensitized by the daily newscasts of Chicago gun violence.
“I’ve lived in the southern Chicago suburbs for 20 years, now, and there has always been an awareness of the gang driven violence in parts of the city,” said Ludwig, of Tinley Park. “Some of the more sensational cases would stir up feelings of grief and anger and hopelessness.
“Still, it was always remote enough to qualify as someone else’s problem.”
But in 2016 he had a growing sense that he should do something but he couldn’t figure out what that was. One night he became very agitated over that day’s senseless killing and was having trouble sleeping.
“About 3 a.m. I found myself in a silent conversation with God, who was telling me that this was now my problem and that I needed to tell people that these streets were his.”
That message has since turned into an effort to fight violence through his main talent — music.
An accomplished guitarist and founding member of the Praise Band at Palos Community Church, Ludwig created a gospel song called “These Streets are Holy” with the help of his wife, Jill Ludwig.
The Ludwigs initially struggled with finding the right message for the song, but it all came together the next year, he said. Now, it needed the right voices. Late in 2017 Jill set out to scouring the south suburbs looking for a choir that might be interested in producing the final version of the song.
In Matteson, she found Shawn Mitchell’s Workstudy Enterprises children’s choir practicing for an upcoming Christmas performance.
“We weren’t looking for ‘polished,’” Jill Ludwig said. “We wanted ‘real.’ We felt that would better represent the children who were lost to violence. … The choir was exactly what we were looking for. … Shawn has an amazing talent to bring out the best in children.”
The song has since been made into a YouTube video, and the effort has since grown into a nonprofit organization, also called These Streets are Holy.
“Our entry point into the communities is through music, mentoring and urban gardening,” John Ludwig said.
The couple held their first fundraiser for the new nonprofit earlier this month at The Black Sheep bar and grill in Frankfort. About 30 people attended the event which included live performances of “These Streets are Holy.” It also included testimonials from people who lost loved ones to gun violence, including Deborah Dean whose 14-year-old daughter, Shavon, was shot and killed by an 11-year-old boy, who also was found dead days after the 1994 incident on the South Side.
The Ludwigs have partnered with Dean and are hoping to add to her community memorial garden at 108th Street and Wentworth Avenue in Chicago this upcoming spring with funds raised through their new nonprofit.
The couple is looking to partner with other community gardens and encourage young people to work on them as an alternative to street life.
And they also are trying to reach more and more people through their music. The Ludwigs have submitted their song for consideration for the Grammy Award for best new gospel song, and have purchased an advertisement supporting it in Billboard Magazine.
They will find out if they will vie for the award Dec. 5, when official nominations are announced.
Frank Vaisvilas is a freelancer for the Daily Southtown.
Local,Region: South Suburbs
via Southtown News – Daily Southtown https://ift.tt/2G3p5Uo
November 22, 2018 at 07:06AM