RichDaniels biopage image

Board Affiliations

  • Former Chairman, Mercy Home For Boys & Girls (current member of the Board of Regents & Board of Directors).
  • Chairman, DePaul University School of Music.
  • Former Chairman, Archdiocese Office for Human Dignity & Solidarity.
  • Board Member, Irish American Labor Council.
  • Board Member, Illinois Arts Council (Appointed by Governor Pat Quinn in 2013 ).
  • Senior Board Member, Chicago Federation of Musicians (elected position since 1992).
  • Delegate to the Chicago Federation of Labor.
  • Delegate to the American Federation of Musicians.
  • Leader Council Member, The Kennedy Forum.
  • The City Lights Foundation (Founder).

Awards + Honors

  • Distinguished Alumni, DePaul University (2004)
  • Immigrant Awareness Award, Chicago Catholic Archdiocese (2012)
  • Heart of Harmony, Hope & Healing Honoree (2016)
  • Irish American Labor Council, Labor Honoree (2016)
  • Bishop Quarter Award, Chicago Catholic Archdiocese (2016)

Rich Daniels


Live music is meant to be a joyous experience that should entertain and inspire the listener while taking the audience on an emotional journey that allows them to be empowered by the spirit of this non-tangible entity.  You cannot see, taste or touch music.  But you can hear it and you can most certainly feel it.  Rich Daniels has been creating and conducting memorable musical concerts and events since 1974, when he began his professional journey as a high school freshman on the great south side of Chicago.

Music was always a passion for Daniels as he realized at a very young age that it was possible to captivate an audience with a live performance while touching their hearts and minds in an indelible way.  Daniels views the opportunity he has been given to have a career in music as a measure of service to others.  Through the vehicle of The City Lights Orchestra, he has been given a chance to participate in thousands of programs nationwide for associations, corporations and non-profit organizations.

Additionally, Rich and his colleagues have had the chance to take the stage and perform in concert with some of the greatest musical artists of the past half-century.  Artists as diverse as Ray Charles, Mel Torme, Garth Brooks, Rosemary Clooney, Dionne Warwick, Burt Bacharach, Michael Buble and David Foster have all relied upon the ability of Rich Daniels and his orchestra to collaborate with them to create their own special brand of magic in performance. In recent years Daniels has also been busy in the studio composing and producing recordings for a wide range of projects.

Since 2011, Rich Daniels has been heavily involved in television production in Chicago as well as in conjunction with the television community in Los Angeles.  With the advent of the 51-acre movie studio CINESPACE in Chicago in that same year, Hollywood has beaten a path to Chicago for production.  Rich was involved as the on-camera music director for the first show filmed at Cinespace, “The Playboy Club” which aired on NBC.  While they created 7 episodes, they only aired 3 since the show was a critical disaster.  However, that show opened the door to other productions including what would be a huge hit show for 20th Century Fox, “Empire” that lasted for 6 seasons (102 epsiodes).  Rich was involved with “Empire” from the pilot (March 2014) until the show finale (March 2020) though the final weeks of production of the series ending were cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

During those 6 seasons Rich placed over 400 musicians & vocalists on-camera and in the recording studio for a wide range of responsibilities.  Rich also interacted regularly with all principal cast members (Terrence Howard, Taraji P. Henson, Jussie Smollett, etc.) as well as a wide range of musical guest artists that read like a “Who’s Who” of significant musical artists of the past 40+ years.  Additionally, Rich was also involved in various degrees with the TV shows, “Boss”, “Chicago Med”, “Betrayal”, “Lovecraft Country”, “Fargo”, “Lightyears”, “4400”, “Proven Innocent”, “Ordinary Joe” and “The Big Leap”.

Opera Diva Renee Fleming also recruited Rich to be a segment musical director as part of what would become a PBS Great Performers Concert as he recruited an appearance by Terrence Howard & Jussie Smollett for the show, “Chicago Voices”.  Rich also was the musical director for the PBS show, “The Horatio Alger Society of Distinguished Americans presents Shelley Mac Arthur & George Perris” and most recently, Rich was the music director and executive producer for the PBS show, “I AM IRELAND” featuring Irish Tenor, Paddy Homan with 40 members of The City Lights Orchestra filmed largely in pandemic isolation. I AM IRELAND aired on 285 stations nartionwide across the PBS network with multiple airings in most major markets and was critically acclaimed.

Rich has also been traveling the country conducting regional orchestras (i.e., Baltimore Symphony, Berkeley Symphony, The National Symphony, Richmond Philharmonic, Hartford Philharmonic, Colorado Symphony, Nashville Symphony, Asheville Symphony, etc.) for the estate of Jerry Garcia performing a “Jerry Garcia Symphonic Celebration” with legendary guitarist / vocalist Warren Haynes.  Wherever the need and whatever the medium, Daniels and his musicians have proven they are up to the task of making great music a part of every performance and assignment they have been given.

Rich is most proud of the various charitable organizations his career has allowed him to serve and promote, especially The Mercy Home For Boys & Girls in Chicago (former board chairman), the DePaul University School of Music (current board chairman) and the Archdiocese Office of Human Dignity & Solidarity (former board chairman). Rich was appointed by Illinois Governor Patrick Quinn to the board of the Illinois Arts Council in 2013. He is also the senior  board member at the Chicago Federation of Musicians and a delegate to the Chicago Federation of Labor. Rich and his lovely wife Kathy have been married for 34 years and have 4 beautiful children: Rich (32), Mary Kate (31), Emily (28) and Maggie (26). Son Rich was married to Maggie Black in July of 2017 and they were blessed with their first child in October of 2020, Lucy Therese!  On January 8, 2022 Emily married Conor McDonald as the family continues to expand.  Rich Daniels knows that he’s a very lucky guy.  And that through hard work, perseverance and tenacity, together with a strong sense of faith, all things are possible.

Jazz / Pop Addendum

During the 1980’s and 1990’s Rich toured extensively with former Tonight Show drummer Ed Shaughnessy.  Additionally, Rich also was asked by the estate of Woody Herman to take the band out in 1991 for several tours around the country.  During this same period of time, Rich played for or conducted for Louis Bellson, Ray Charles, Mel Torme, Buddy DeFranco, Phil Wilson and many “pop” personalities including Garth Brooks, Dennis DeYoung, Michael Buble and David Foster.  Rich was also a featured soloist with Laurel Masse’ both in concert and on several of her recordings.

“The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low and achieving our mark.”


Photo By Michael Jackson