Musician Britney Stoney is a born-and-raised Detroiter and she's inspired by her hometown in all kinds of ways. She's especially influenced by the people she calls "hustlers and grinders," meaning everyday people who work hard and live good lives, regardless of their circumstances. 

Stoney says her mother is a great example of a grinder, who raised her as a single mom while working as a waitress and bartender.

Here are a few lyrics from the song "Organ Donor:"

George Shirley, emeritus professor at the University of Michigan School of Music, Dance and Theatre, recently received the National Medal of Arts from President Obama.

Courtesy of Maia Williams /

There's a comic convention happening this weekend in Detroit that will spotlight artists and writers of color, and women.

"MECCAcon: the Midwest Ethnic Convention for Comics and Arts" runs September 18-19 . The two-day event is the brainchild of organizer Maia "Crown" Williams.

"I feel like diversity is very important for our city to succeed and progress.... You can draw and create many black characters in mainstream comics ... but are you paying people of color to create them, to write them."

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio


This year marks the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War. But the end of slavery in the United States wasn’t official until the 13th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified in December of 1865. The end of slavery also meant the end of the Underground Railroad. Detroit was one of the last stops before freedom for thousands of former slaves. 

Marcelo Lopez-Dinardi

The big thing you need to know about Afrofuturism is that it is joyous and fun and a celebration of the past, present, and future.

Late last month, three young artists road-tripped from Toronto to Detroit for a weekend festival called Sigi Fest that celebrated Afrofuturism. And they were certainly joyful. 

Chris White

Mike Ellison says while he was born in Ethiopia, he was transformed in to an artist in Detroit. You can hear that fusion of cultures in his music. A lot of it combines traditional African music with modern hip hop. He uses his music and performances to raise awareness for causes both in Ethiopia and in Detroit.

Ellison spoke with Michigan Radio’s Emily Fox about how he uses his music as an education and community outreach tool. He gave his perspective on Africa and how it helped shape his identity, and also spoke about current racial issues in the U.S.

Famed Detroit jazz trumpeter Marcus Belgrave dies at 78

May 24, 2015

DETROIT (AP) - Marcus Belgrave, a jazz trumpeter who graced stages and studios with Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Dizzy Gillespie, Joe Cocker and Motown artists galore, has died. He was 78.

Being a father is both rewarding and challenging.  

But, being a black father can have its own challenges. That's what Curtis Ivery believes. 

Ivery, chancellor of the Wayne County Community College District, discusses the father’s role in a book he co-authored with his son Marcus Ivery, called Black Fatherhood: Reclaiming Our Legacy.

The book discusses the disintegration of the African-American family and the alarm it generates.

LEG Management

The first federally-funded housing projects for African-American families were built in Detroit in the 1930s. They were the Brewster-Douglass Housing Projects, located on Detroit’s near-east side.

If you want to hear why they were built, listen to our recent story here. Mary Wilson from The Supremes tells us about what she learned from growing up in the projects, in a story you can listen to here

For the most part, former residents who lived in the area in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s speak highly of their time in the projects. But life in the Brewsters got much tougher in the 1970s and '80s.

Emil Lorch collection/Bentley Historical Library/University of Michigan

All this week on Stateside, we’re looking at the history of the Brewster-Douglass Housing Projects in Detroit. If you’ve ever wondered about why they were created or what it was like to live in them, we’d love to fill you in with our three-part series. Here's part one:

If you remember the projects, you might picture the six identical high-rises on the city’s near east side. Those were the Frederick-Douglass Towers, and they were built in the 1950s and finally destroyed in 2014.

Twenty years ago this fall, Curtis Ivery was appointed chancellor of the oddly named Wayne County Community College District. The place was a mess. One of its campuses was closed, funding and facilities were wretched, and many thought it wouldn’t survive. But as Ivery, who had grown up poor and black in Amarillo, Texas, once told me, “whenever anybody told me I couldn’t do it, I did it.”

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A summit in Flint this week will focus on doing more to help young African-American boys and men.

Organizers say young black men face limited educational and other opportunities.

Pastor Reggie Flynn says schools, businesses and churches are failing to meet the needs of young men of color in Flint.

“We have failed in the faith community because we haven’t engaged parents as we should.  We’ve become insular,” says Flynn. “Children shouldn’t be coming into our churches and leaving, and we know they cannot read.”

User: Goodiez / flickr


Why is it that one product will resonate with a group of consumers, while a similar one just can't quite catch on?

It's the sort of dilemma you can imagine Don Draper and Peggy Olson trying to figure out in an episode of "Mad Men."

Turns out, it was a dilemma for a major tobacco company: trying to figure out why Detroit smokers were so loyal to the competition – in this case, Kool cigarettes in the 1970s.

Steve Neavling is an investigative journalist who looked into this bit of tobacco history for Motor City Muckraker.

*Listen to the full interview above.

Gabriela Frank is probably not what comes to mind when you think of a contemporary classical music composer.  For starters, she considers herself a hippie.

“I was born in the 1970s in Berkeley, California, during the Vietnam protests," says Frank. "My dad was a nice Jewish boy from the Bronx who married a Peruvian woman from the coast. I’m also a woman and I have a hearing loss, so technically I’m disabled as well.”