Arts & Culture

Arts/Culture
10:50 am
Wed August 31, 2011

Remembering a Motown founder: Esther Gordy Edwards' funeral today

Esther Gordy Edwards started the Motown Museum in 1985. According to Berry Gordy Jr., his sister preserved "the so-called trash left behind after I sold the company in 1988 into a phenomenal world-class monument where Hitsville started."
user dig downtown detroit Flickr

Esther Gordy Edwards gave her brother, Berry Gordy Jr., an $800 loan to start Motown Records back in 1959. She went on to become an integral part of her brother's company and started the Motown Museum back in 1985.

Edwards died last week at the age of 91. Today is her funeral.

From the Detroit Free Press:

Hundreds are expected to say good-bye to Esther Gordy Edwards, the sister of Motown Records founder Berry Gordy Jr. who helped him build the company and led efforts to turn its original Detroit headquarters into a museum.

The funeral for Edwards is 11 a.m. today at Bethel AME Church in Detroit. She died last week at age 91.

Arts/Culture
11:05 am
Tue August 30, 2011

Books-a-Million to expand to Traverse City and 13 other locations

Books-a-Million looks to expand to Michigan and other states.
Photo courtesy of Books-a-Million

Update 9:30 a.m

Books-a-Million received the green light from a judge to take over 14 former Borders stores, including one in Traverse City. Publishers Weekly has the details on the deal:

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Arts/Culture
2:49 pm
Thu August 25, 2011

"Pillar of Motown" Esther Gordy Edwards dies at 91

Esther Gordy Edwards Donating Motown Collection with Eastern Michigan University President Harold E. Sponberg and Larry Head of the Alumni Department
Eastern Michigan University Archives

Update 2:49 p.m.

Michigan Radio's Sarah Hulett spoke with Motown Museum CEO Audley Smith.

Smith said Edwards was instrumental in starting Motown. From Hulett's report:

Edwards served as the label’s vice president, its corporate secretary, and its director of international operations.

But Motown Museum CEO Audley Smith says even before that, she established a "savings club" for her family’s entrepreneurial pursuits.

"And that fund was where Berry Gordy got the first $800 to start his record company," said Smith.

Smith also said that Edwards was a mother figure to many of the Motown artists who became stars.

"She felt that by sharing her love and her wisdom and her guidance and her time and her resources and her tough love, that she could make a difference in the lives of young people," said Smith.

Hulett reports that Edwards stayed in Detroit after her brother moved the Motown label to Los Angeles in the early 1970s. She started the Motown Museum in 1985, which sees 60,000 visitors a year.

1:05 p.m.

Esther Gordy Edwards, the elder sister of Motown Records founder Berry Gordy Jr., died last night at the age of 91.

From the Associated Press.

The Motown Museum made the announcement Thursday. The museum, which Edwards founded, says she died Wednesday night in Detroit surrounded by family and friends. Edwards was a Motown executive for nearly three decades.

She served as senior vice president, corporate secretary and director of Motown International Operations, where she was charged with exposing the famed "Motown sound" to international
audiences.

Berry Gordy Jr. released a statement today saying his sister was "was the most educated in our family and was the go-to person for wisdom in business." Berry Gordy Jr. praised her for preserving Motown's history after he sold the company 1988:

Esther turned the so-called trash left behind after I sold the company in 1988 into a phenomenal world-class monument where Hitsville started—The Motown Museum.She preserved Motown memorabilia before it was memorabilia, collecting our history long before we knew we were making it. She nurtured and held it together through the years, protecting the Motown legacy for generations to come—which is only one of the reasons people all over the world will remember and celebrate Esther Gordy Edwards. Despite my sorrow, I will proudly continue to honor and celebrate her. She will always be my big sister and she will forever live in my heart.

Billboard Magazine writes that this is the second loss Motown has suffered this week "following the death Tuesday of legendary Ashford & Simpson songwriter, Nick Ashford."

The Detroit African American History project writes that Esther Gordy Edwards was born in Oconee, Georgia and moved to Detroit as a child. She's a graduate of Cass Technical High School and attended Howard University and the University of Michigan. She was married to former Michigan State Representative George Edwards.

Your Story
10:43 am
Mon August 22, 2011

Preserving Jewish community in Detroit

Joshua Goldberg and some of the Backstage Pass MI cohort.
courtesy of Backstage Pass MI

Detroit’s shrinking population is well-documented, as are the many incentives offered to people to move back into the city center. These efforts are a mix of hyping what Detroit can become and offering economic incentives for those willing to give it a try. A group of Jewish organizations in Metro Detroit has been using the same formula to keep young Jewish people from leaving the area.

The Jewish population in Michigan is less than 1 percent, according to the U.S Census. The overwhelming majority of those 87,000 people live in Metro Detroit, in an area east of M5 and north of Interstate 696, according to Joshua Goldberg of the Jewish Federation of Metro Detroit. But the area’s Jewish population has been falling steadily for at least the last few decades. Mirroring a trend in the state overall, in the Jewish community the young people are leading the march out of state.

Arthur Siegal wants to reverse this. The 50-year-old attorney and Wayne State graduate conceived of the Back Stage Pass MI program. The four-year program started last year selects promising Jewish high school students before their junior year and culminates in a Detroit internship placement after the student’s sophomore year of college. Along the way, the program takes its cohort of around 20 students a year to cultural and social events designed to show Detroit at its best.

“These young people are really wanted in this community, they are going to be sought after here,” says Siegal. “There are amazing opportunities for people who stay. Land is cheap, labor is cheap, and the opportunities to do your own thing and make your own mark are unparalleled. ”

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Culture
5:04 pm
Sun August 21, 2011

Students, faculty to fast along with Muslims

University of Michigan

About 100 students and faculty from the University of Michigan Medical School plan to abstain from eating and drinking all day tomorrow. It’s part of “Fast-a-Thon 2011,” when non-Muslims are invited to get a glimpse of the experience of Ramadan.

Shaza al-Holou heads the Muslim Medical Students Association at U of M. She says it gives perspective to physicians and future physicians who might have Muslim patients.

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Arts/Culture
4:00 pm
Sun August 21, 2011

Detroit Institute of Arts uses restricted funds to cover operating costs

The famous Rivera Court inside the Detroit Institute of Arts
Photo Courtesy of the D.I.A.

The Detroit Institute of Arts is struggling to raise money in this tough economy. It doesn’t help that Detroit is still reeling from the recession, and a quarter of its tax base, which helps fund the museum, has fled the city over the past decade.

To help relieve a little pressure, DIA director Graham Beal asked permission to take money from funds dedicated solely to acquisitions, and temporarily use it to cover operating costs. In his monthly newsletter, Beal explained it like this:

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Arts/Culture
10:40 am
Thu August 18, 2011

Artpod: Murals brighten streets, bring pride to Detroit neighborhood

A group of people gather outside Chazz Miller's art studio in Old Redford, a neighborhood in Detroit
Emily Fox Michigan Radio

On today's podcast, we hear how an artist in Detroit wants to bring color to the city with his brush strokes.

Artists in Seattle and Philadelphia who have been painting large murals on abandoned buildings in an effort to revitalize neighborhoods. Philadelphia for example, has around two-thousand murals to help brighten the city.

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Culture
2:53 pm
Wed August 17, 2011

Long, slow haul: Man makes 4,100-mile tractor ride

"Tractor Dave" returns home in Ludington, MI after a 4,100 mile tractor ride through the Midwest. His grandchildren sit on the tractor and his wife "Mrs. Tractor Deb" welcomes him home.
Tractor Dave Crosses America Facebook

LUDINGTON, Mich. (AP) - A Michigan man has wrapped up a more than 4,100-mile tractor ride through the Midwest to raise money for charity.

The Ludington Daily News reports 66-year-old Dave Wolfsen arrived Monday in Ludington from Wisconsin aboard the S.S. Badger car ferry.

He's also known as "Tractor Dave." He began the ride in June and traveled on a red 1937 tractor with a 25 mph top speed.

Wolfsen had planned to ride 9,300 miles through 48 states. The Muskegon Chronicle reports time and bad weather cut short his plans.

Wolfsen owned an agricultural equipment dealership in Fremont before selling it six years ago. He also drives a road commission truck. He used the trip to raise awareness and money for the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee and Food Resource Bank.

Culture
3:11 pm
Mon August 15, 2011

Cell phones used to text, take pictures, and avoid others

Is she really texting someone, or does she just not want to talk to you?
user edenpictures Flickr

The Pew Internet & American Life Project has released its annual findings on how Americans use their cell phones. Other than talking on the phone (it was a phone survey, after all), most of us use our phones for texting and picture taking.

From Pew:

As in previous Pew Internet surveys of mobile usage, texting and picture-taking remain the most common mobile phone activities—73% of cell owners engage in each of these—followed by sending photos or videos to others (54%) and accessing the internet (44%). The two least prevalent activities (among the 15 we inquired about) are accessing Twitter and using one’s phone to take part in a video call or chat (6% of cell owners do each of these).

People interacting with younger cell phone users take note.

30% of cell phone users aged 18-29 say they pretend to use their cell phone to avoid interacting with people around them.

The avoidance technique is used significantly more by this age group than by others (11% of those 30-49 said they do this, 6% of those 50-64, and 2% of those 65 and older).

So younger users... teach the elders.

How is this best done? Do you pretend to take a call? Or do you just glance down at your device when you feel eye contact coming your way?

Or maybe you really are playing Angry Birds.

Arts/Culture
6:00 am
Mon August 15, 2011

Students take to the stage to tell the story of Flint arsons

UM-Flint students interviewed more than 50 residents about the arson fires.
Photo courtesy of the Project's facebook page

Students in Flint have written a new play inspired by the string of arson fires that plagued the city last year.

Students at the University of Michigan-Flint spent a good part of the this year interviewing victims of the arson fires that ripped through the city in 2010. The students then transcribed the interviews and strung them together to create a new play called EMBERS: The Flint Fires Verbatim Theatre Project.

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Arts/Culture
4:08 pm
Thu August 11, 2011

New "Be Me" project champions black men in Detroit, Philadelphia

A new initiative in Detroit focuses on the role black men and teens play in the city’s revival.

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Arts/Culture
5:45 pm
Wed August 10, 2011

Sphinx founder Aaron Dworkin to serve on National Council of the Arts

Aaron Dworkin is President Obama's first confirmed appointment to the National Council on the Arts
Bruce Giffin Courtesy of the Sphinx Organization

Aaron Dworkin, founder of  the Detroit-based Sphinx Organization, was confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve on the National Council on the Arts. Dworkin is President Obama's first appointment to the Council.

The National Council on the Arts advises the Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, currently Rocco Landsman, about policies and programs.

Dworkin founded the Sphinx Organization in 1996 with the goal of "building diversity in classical music."

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Arts/Culture
3:37 pm
Wed August 10, 2011

Detroit native Philip Levine named U.S. Poet Laureate

Philip Levine will start his poet laureate duties with a reading of his work at the Coolidge Auditorium on Monday, Oct. 17.
Frances Levine Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Detroit native Philip Levine is the country’s new poet laureate.

Levine was born in Detroit in 1928. As a student, he worked a number of jobs at Detroit’s auto plants, and he translated his experience into poetry. His poems depict life in Detroit and the working class in general.

"What Work Is" - introduction and reading by Philip Levine

"They Feed They Lion" - introduction and reading by Philip Levine

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Religion
12:27 pm
Wed August 10, 2011

Ousted Calvin College professor questions the existence of Adam and Eve

An engraving depicting Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, by Albrecht Durer, 15th century.
Hulton Archive Getty Images

Originally published on Tue August 9, 2011 12:01 am

Let's go back to the beginning — all the way to Adam and Eve, and to the question: Did they exist, and did all of humanity descend from that single pair?

According to the Bible (Genesis 2:7), this is how humanity began: "The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." God then called the man Adam, and later created Eve from Adam's rib.

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Culture
11:33 am
Wed August 10, 2011

The Legacy of Eleanor Josaitis

By now, everybody knows that Eleanor Josaitis lost her battle with cancer yesterday, and that she, with the late Father Bill Cunningham, was one of the founders of Focus Hope.

Focus Hope is that rarest of social welfare organizations; one  praised by liberals and conservatives alike. It started out as a private food distribution program in the aftermath of the horrendous Detroit riot of nineteen-sixty-seven. They still provide food to tens of thousands. But that’s not primarily what they are about.  Focus Hope takes the poor and uneducated, the unskilled and under skilled, and does its best to give them what they need to support themselves.

They trained hundreds of machinists, and when demand for machinists started to slip, they diversified. These days, their biggest program by far is Focus Hope’s Information Technologies Center, which is on their forty-acre campus of beautifully restored industrial buildings in Northwest Detroit.

Focus Hope has saved thousands of people and given them the ability to lead productive and meaningful lives. Hopefully, the men and women who run it will go on helping many more.

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Culture
9:19 am
Wed August 10, 2011

Reviving Detroit: A Young Man With A Plan

Originally published on Tue August 9, 2011 3:00 pm

Transcript

MICHELE NORRIS, host: We've reporting in the past that Detroit is shedding residents. Young people have been fleeing the city in droves. But some see Detroit, and its vast stretch of vacant neighborhoods, as a place that needs them.

NPR's Larry Abramson has this profile of one young Detroiter.

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Arts/Culture
12:38 pm
Tue August 9, 2011

Ypsilanti studio space "spurs" on artists, musicians

James Marks, SPUR Studios founder, in front of the building on Railroad Street in Ypsilanti
Doug Aikenhead Michigan Radio Picture Project

You can file this story under "silver lining."

Michigan's recession has left a lot of empty buildings in its wake. When James Marks was looking for a larger building to house his t-shirt and flat screen printing company, VG Kids, he looked at a two-story brick building on Railroad Street in Ypsilanti.

The building had plenty of space, but was divided into dozens of small rooms. Marks says the space wasn't a good fit for his company, but it was perfect for artists’ studios:

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Arts/Culture
10:29 am
Mon August 8, 2011

Looking back at the 30th Annual Flint Jazz Festival

Sabrina LaMarr, saxophonist
photo by Traci Currie Michigan Radio

People came out in both rainy and sunny weather to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Flint Jazz Festival this past weekend. The celebration began Thursday evening with the Jazz Walk, a new effort to promote and raise money for the event.

Sabrina LaMarr is a saxophonist from Flint. She has been playing at the jazz festival for years.  She performed Saturday afternoon.

"It rained and we had so many people. And they stayed. And everyone was wise. They had their own umbrella. So that’s a good thing too. They enjoyed it."

World renowned artists like Regina Belle and the After 5 Jazz Ensemble performed at the festival, as well as well-known Flint artists like Bruce Bradley and Tapology Dancers.

The Tito Puente, Jr. Orchestra closed out the festival Sunday evening. The group was able to play a few selections but stopped the performance early due to rain.

-Traci Currie - Michigan Radio Newsroom

Arts/Culture
11:30 am
Fri August 5, 2011

This is where I belong: A conversation with Lara Zielin

Michigan author Lara Zielin is taking over the world.

She and three other women writers (and some special guests) are kicking off their Girls Taking Over the World Tour tonight at Nicola's Books in Ann Arbor.

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Arts/Culture
5:53 pm
Thu August 4, 2011

DIA launches program for Alzheimer's patients

The Detroit Institute of Arts
user sbj4 flickr.com

The Detroit Institute of Arts is taking the first step toward building a program for Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers.

The DIA and the Michigan Alzheimer’s Association have been trying to launch the “Minds on Art” program for more than a year. But it’s stalled from lack of funding.

But the groups decided to hold an initial session anyway, and hope to expand the program.

The program offers gallery tours for patients and caregivers. Renee Grant is a DIA docent who trained to work with Alzheimer’s patients.

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