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Diane Ellis is a 66-year-old award-winning music teacher, jazz educator, saxophonist and internationally known performer who suffered a hemorrhagic stroke on Friday, April 15, 2016 during a live performance for the Jazz Institute of Chicago. She is bedridden and paralyzed on her left side.

Diane taught music to all grade levels at Dixon Elementary School in Chatham (where she also lives) for 23 years. She mentored many young people who have gone on to professional careers in many areas including music production, music performance and teaching. She comes from a musical family dynasty; her uncles Jimmy and Morris Ellis represent an important branch of Chicago jazz history. But Diane’s own contribution to Chicago Jazz history is singularly important, because there is no one else who has devoted a career to building a school-wide program that introduces and trains very young children in the joy of jazz. Diane is also known for her career as Lil Sax, the indomitable alto saxophone player whose bright tone livened up any band she performed in.

Updates (24)

April 5, 2021

Diane celebrates a milestone, what would have been Tax Day, becoming a 5-year survivor of a catastrophic stroke. She still needs your help. Visit Diane’s TeamDiane page at:

September 21, 2018

Diane Breaks Bubbles for Help Hope’s 35th Birthday Celebration. (Please see the 1st photo in the photo gallery below.)

Photo Galleries (5)

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June 1, 2021

You are one of Chicago's treasures and I have thought of you often. Wishing you small steps in your journey to continued wellness.

Rosemarie Rogers

May 31, 2021

Diane's legacy lives on in the talented students she mentored and in all of the many many lives she has touched.

Lauren Deutsch

September 4, 2020

Hi Diane. Thinking of you today. We were in the South Shore High School band together and All City High School band. I played Oboe and Clarinet. You were such an inspiration to me. I'm praying for you.

Darlene Cooley

May 24, 2019

I don't know Diane personally but, as a native of Chicago, I owe my career to the city's incredible music history. Diane is an integral part of that history, and I hope my small donation can help in some way.

Jon Irabagon