Urban Aspirations Performing Arts was conceived in the fall of 2001 by President and Executive Director Marcus Burks, who for nine months coordinated and played trumpet in a music workshop at the Brown Room Jazz Café in Chicago’s South Shore community. In February of 2002 Mr. Burks contacted Lorie Hile, an Area and Marketing Manager for Borders Books in Chicago, and proposed an idea for live performances at the Borders store located in the south side ‘Beverly’ community. These performances featuring Chicago local street musicians, was titled “Street Psalms of Chicago”. In May 2002, “Street Psalms of Chicago” launched its maiden voyage with the popular street band of brothers, “Hypnotic”. The projects appeal soon caught on and more local musicians other than street performers expressed interest in participating. With the added dimension of other unknown local artists, a name changed soon ensued and “Native Psalms of Chicago: Local Artists Unbottled” was born.”
During the first two and a half years, from May 2002 to October 2004, Urban Aspirations was little more than a moniker representing the “Native Psalms of Chicago” series. In October of 2006, Urban Aspirations concluded its two and a half year tenure with Borders Book stores at their Hyde Park location, but not before featuring twenty-five free music acts spanning various genres from Classical, Gospel, Hip-Hop, Jazz, Latin, Neo-Soul, Opera, and Salsa. At this time Urban Aspirations also featured the students and staff of Sherwood Music Conservatory and the Chicago All-City Elementary School Jazz Band conducted by Urban Aspirations Artistic Director Mark Coulter. During that same month Urban Aspirations also acquired recognition as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization by the United States Federal Government.