About FAME    

The FAME Center was officially formed for the arts and music education purposes. For over 26 years Sheila Fortson, the FAME Center’s founder and executive director, has worked with children and adults throughout the United States teaching piano, violin, voice, and acting lessons. As a result of her extensive studies of various forms of art, her experience performing around the world, and her opportunities teaching and sharing her passion for music and fine arts with others, she was encouraged by several professional men and women to continue her efforts in music and fine arts education in areas where many students lack opportunity and resources to expand their learning in music and art. It was this prompting that caused Sheila to establish the FAME Center in the south side of downtown Chicago with the vision of creating a safe space for children and adults who might not otherwise have the opportunity or resources to learn about music and art. FAME Center is guided by a Board of Directors, each of which brings experience and leadership to the oversight of the organization.  We work with experienced fine arts teachers and rely heavily on volunteers to provide music and art lessons and fulfill the organization’s tax exempt purposes.



"I've seen Sheila at work, and I have had the pleasure to work with her!  She always brings passion, kindness, honesty, and professionalism to the table.  I found her to be incredibly knowledgeable about the music: the theory of it, as well as the emotion it needed to evoke.  I watched her as she interacted with her students, and it’s evident that they enjoy and respect her, and not just for her great ability to teach them, but also for her deep desire to see them grow in every way...and that is all you could ask in a teacher."
Heather Headley - Tony and Grammy winning recording artist


"Sheila has been teaching my grade-school daughter for two years and is a wonderful, inspiring instructor. First she taught my daughter violin, then violin and piano, and now just piano. She is a pro in all of those areas. Sheila makes my daughter want to be a good musician. She encourages her in person and on the phone (we call her when we're struggling during practices and she guides us through the issues). She is flexible and prompt. She is kind and nurturing, but not too much of a softy. She challenges my daughter to do her best and helps her rise to her highest potential. We couldn't be happier with her as an instructor!"
Saleema S. - Parent 

I was looking for a local place to take piano and voice lessons and someone referred FAME.  As an older student who'd taken piano for years as a child, I was concerned about getting back into the swing of things.  Sheila listened to my concerns and paired me with Lili  for my lessons.   Turns out, Lili is a great teacher!  She was willing to cater the lessons towards songs I wanted to learn and she also introduced me to music I otherwise would never have sought out (who knew my voice could go so high!).  Unfortunately, I moved to the burbs and the commute made it difficult to continue.  Otherwise, I'd still be a student.  FAME is a great place to learn and I'd recommend it to anyone looking for voice or music lessons.  

Verria K.  - student

  Sheila Fortson  
Founder’s Notes 


Music is a language--and like any language, there are many basic skills which must be mastered prior to advancing to more complex applications. During a course of study, I attempt to cover all areas of musicianship: theory, technique, formal analysis, harmony, ear-training, sight-reading, performance, and a comprehensive study of musical literature in a progressive fashion. I truly feel that a well-rounded musical education helps students define for themselves what music means to them.
Please bear in mind that no two students are exactly alike, and children (as well as adults) learn at different rates of speed. Even brothers and sisters within families differ radically in motivation and temperament. Therefore, I approach students as individuals and attempt to challenge each according to their own unique potential. Music is not easy, and may not always be "fun".  However, given sufficient time and structured practice, it does become enjoyable to master the many different aspects of this art.


"When my grandfather immigrated to America from Romania in the early 1900s, somewhere along the line he purchased a violin.  He was self taught and was amazing.  I only knew my grandfather for a short period of time, but I can still vividly remember him playing the violin beautifully, of course it was Romanian gypsy music.  At a young age, I wanted to play the violin also, but unfortunately a few years later my mom passed away and we financially could not afford lessons.  My dream of playing was put aside.  Jump forward 30 years, my dad handed me my grandfather's violin.  It hadn't been played since 1985. I took it with a promise to learn how to play.  One morning on my way to worship, I passed a flyer at Daystar, it was for violin lessons at Daystar Center. I waited months before I had the courage to ask if she could teach me, and I sent that email while laying in bed recovering from broke bones.  In February, I met Sheila, she's amazing!  She pushes me, she encourages and motivates me.  Here I am, 8 months later playing Bach and enjoying every screechy note along the way....Don't wait 30 years like I did! Follow your dreams!"  - Erin W. - student

We’d love to hear from you!

1550 S. State St. | Chicago, IL | 60605 | info@famecenter.org

Tel: 312-469-0667 



Monday-Friday 2:00-6:00pm

Saturday 9am-5:00pm




1550 S. State St. Chicago, IL 60605


Tel: 312-469-0667

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