Arts & Culture

Arts and culture

Flickr user Mike Fritcher / Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Throughout its 314-year history, Detroit has been one of the nation’s most historically significant cities.


There's enough history that Detroit author Bill Loomis found a significant event for each day of the calendar year throughout the city’s history in his new book, On This Day in Detroit History.


From sports heroes, to the Beatles, to Harry Houdini -- the book covers everything Detroit.

Listen to the interview below to learn about some of the strange and spectacular events from Detroit’s history.



sherlock holmes character in silhouette
dynamosquito / Flickr -

Many around the world will be celebrating the birthday of Sherlock Holmes creator Dr. Arthur Conan Doyle on Sunday, May 22. However, as we learned from University of Michigan medical historian and PBS Newshour contributor Dr. Howard Markel, there's another reason to celebrate.

Doyle was working on his first Sherlock Holmes book while practicing as a doctor and also writing for the London-based monthly journal, Review of Reviews. Doyle used his deductive reasoning to play a role in the discovery of a cure for tuberculosis.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Thinking about the upcoming Mackinac Island Policy Conference, Tammy Coxen with Tammy's Tastings offers a new riff on the cocktail called the Conference. The original Conference cocktail originated at Death and Co. in Manhattan's East Village. In turn, that drink is a spin off of the classic Old Fashioned.

The changes made to make the Michigan Conference include substituting Michigan maple syrup for the sugar in the drink, and using chocolate bitters as a playful nod to the fudge shops found on Mackinac Island. 

Richard T. James

Marilyn McCormick only expected to stay in Detroit for a year or two before moving to New York to live the “bohemian lifestyle.” Then she got a teaching job at her alma mater, Cass Technical High School. “I was totally enjoying what I was doing…[and] I was doing exactly what I wanted to be doing,” McCormick said. Now forty years later, the performing arts teacher will be retiring.

Aladar Nesser

Ice arenas and fights are among the first images to come to mind when someone thinks about hockey. When author and playwright Mitch Albom thinks about hockey, he has one thing on his mind: musicals.

"Hockey - The Musical!" will be making its opening debut tonight for a month-long run at Detroit's City Theatre, and Albom hopes it will bring together theater geeks and sports fans alike.

Mercedes Mejia

The vast woods, rivers, and wildlife of Northern Michigan captured Hemingway’s heart and imagination early in life. 

“Michigan always represented a great source of freedom for Hemingway. Everything that he’s associated with – outdoorsmanship, hunting, fishing, that all came from his time in Northern Michigan,” says Chris Struble, president of the Michigan Hemingway Society.

Hemingway home
Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

Ernest Hemingway spent his boyhood summers in Michigan, and the last 20 years of his life in Cuba. 

Today, Finca Vigia, Hemingway’s Cuban home, is undergoing a major renovation, overseen by a Michigan construction company known for its historic renovation work.

2016 Motor City Comic Con
Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

Thousands of fans of all kinds traveled to Novi over the weekend for the 27th annual Motor City Comic Con. The Suburban Convention Showplace was full of fans who were dressed to impress. There was no shortage of variety when it came to the character costumes. Super heroes, super villains, movie, TV, and video game characters. If there's a character with a fanbase, chances are there was someone dressed up like them.

A string quartet
creative commons

Twenty-nine chamber music ensembles face off this week at the University of Michigan's first M-Prize competition.

Founder Aaron Dworkin says it's a major chamber music competition, both in terms of the number of groups competing and the size of the prize: $100,000.

Dworkin says he hopes to draw attention to how chamber music is evolving. He says it's not just a strings ensemble, or winds.

"You might have euphonium, harp, oboe and spoken word," says Dworkin, "and all acoustic, or are there any parts of that ensemble that engage electronics."

Pronunciation of the word divisive can be divisive.

Michigan Radio listener Connie of Grand Rapids wrote “I had always thought the middle syllable in this word was a long i, as in divided but I am hearing NPR hosts saying it with a short i, as in division.

Curzan and Miller admit they use both pronunciations.

“What we’re seeing here is a shift from what seems to be the standard pronunciation in a relatively short time frame – the last 15 years or so," Curzan says.

She checked with the American Heritage Dictionary usage panel, of which she’s a member, to see how they’re voting on this.

Stateside 5.13.2016

May 13, 2016

In our latest edition of Songs from Studio East, band members of the olllam discuss the origin of their music. It is infused with "liberated" Irish sounds.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Michigan has its fair share of magnificent architects, one of whom is Minoru Yamasaki.

Author John Gallagher recently wrote a book about Yamasaki. He joined us today on Stateside.

Yamasaki lived during World War II, when life for many Japanese Americans was not easy. Some suffered in internment camps, and Yamasaki too faced discrimination.

“And yet he was so good at what he did and so brilliant that he got these sort of high-end commissions, you know, from early on designing a naval base for the military at the height of World War II,” Gallagher said.

After the war, Yamasaki moved to Detroit. Gallagher said he quickly became “the new modernist designer” in the city and its suburbs. He is known for buildings like the McGregor Memorial Conference Center at Wayne State and the One Woodward building.

Gallagher said Yamasaki's buildings feel connected to nature.

“Whenever you’re in one of them you begin to sense what he was trying to do, creating these oasis of tranquility for the people who would use his buildings,” he said.

As part of Michigan Radio’s Songs from Studio East series, this year we are exploring music that combines both contemporary and traditional music from around the world.

Today we met Ann Arbor native Tyler Duncan and Irishman John McSherry. 

Despite being an ocean away, they play in a band together, called the olllam. The two have toured across the U.S. and in Europe producing a fusion of pop, rock and Irish music.

Duncan's musical career has included a variety of genres, like pop, rock and electronic. He has won international awards for playing traditional Irish instruments, like the uilleann pipes, a lighter version of Scotland's bagpipes, and whistles, a staple in Irish music. 

He discovered Irish music when he was 11, when his aunt gave him a VHS copy of Riverdance​. A pipe solo in the middle of the show grabbed his attention.

"As a kid I just was like, 'Woah, what is that? What is that instrument?'" he said. "And that got me really interested in the pipes."

Years later, as a 13-year-old Duncan moved to Ireland for a year with his family. His father took a sabbatical there.

He was given a tape he loved, which he later learned featured John McSherry, a rising star in the traditional Irish music scene. Then, when Duncan was in western Ireland, he had a chance to meet that musician.

He said it was a "serendipitous" meeting at a jam session in Milltown. Someone told Duncan that McSherry was at the bar. So Duncan started to stare. When McSherry's girlfriend noticed, the two introduced themselves.

That was the origin of the friendship that lead to the olllam.

The Carr Center's current home in Detroit's Harmonie Park.
Carr Center / via Facebook

A prominent Detroit arts organization is losing its home in a downtown neighborhood it helped revitalize.

The Carr Center has called a historic building in Detroit’s Harmonie Park area home since 2009.

The non-profit arts organization is focused on promoting and celebrating African and African-American arts and culture.

It’s been a vibrant spot, but struggled financially.

Jodi Westrick

One of the big treats of doing Stateside live from the Charles H. Wright Museum was the live music from the Marcus Elliot Quartet. 

Elliot talked with Cynthia Canty about getting hooked on jazz,  teaching jazz at Troy High School and influences from his travels around the world, plus much more.

Jodi Westrick

Today’s show was broadcast from the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.

Dr. Charles H. Wright was a physician, a gynecologist and obstetrician. Through the years he delivered 7,000 babies in Detroit alone. He also founded the museum in his office by first collecting small items.

The 22,000-square-foot museum holds the largest exhibit dedicated to the history of African Americans.

Stateside's Cynthia Canty spoke with curator Patrina Chatman.

Lester Graham

Dearborn has become a flashpoint for many people in America. Anti-Islam protestors carrying weapons have rallied in the city. The Arab American National Museum has responded by inviting people to better understand the city through food. Lester Graham recently joined a group going on a food tour called “Yalla Eat!

Terrance Heath/flickr /

Are you unable to resist making judgments about the person who makes a grammar mistake?

Ah, wait till you hear about some interesting new research from the University of Michigan.

It gives us some insight into the personality of the critic.

Robin Queen is professor and chair of the Linguistics Department at the University of Michigan and co-author of the new study along with Julie E. Boland, professor of psychology and linguistics. 

flickr user volkspider /

Does a typo or grammatical error really bug you?

Are you unable to resist making judgments about the person who committed that linguistic faux pas?

Well, some interesting new research from the University of Michigan might just teach you a thing or two about yourself. 

Robin Queen is professor and chair of the Linguistics Department at U of M. Queen joined Cynthia Canty on Stateside to offer some insight into the personality of the critic. 

Former altar girl pens chapbook on clerical sexual abuse

May 10, 2016
Chapbook cover for "The Witness"
Kelly Fordon

Writer and poet Kelly Fordon grew up as a Catholic altar girl in the 1970s, and has published The Witness, a chapbook centered around sexual abuse by Catholic priests.

Chapbooks are used by poets to focus on a single theme or topic. 

Fordon never expected to write against the Catholic Church, but believes that people shouldn't be so quick to defend priests accused of abuse. Fordon joined Cynthia Canty on today's Stateside to discuss The Witness.

Laura Swanson

It’s hard not to picture the movie Taken when someone says “human trafficking” – the women lured into a Frenchman’s car and Liam Neeson’s ensuing action scenes.

But filmmaker Laura Swanson said that narrow idea of what human trafficking encompasses is misleading.

“Certainly that does happen, but that’s not the majority of the cases,” Swanson said. “And I think people really need to start reframing the ways in which they see human trafficking so that we can amend our laws and legal system to accompany what we need to do to get resources and to provide the best support for victims and survivors.”

Swanson’s documentary film Break the Chain aims to do just that – to reframe how we understand human trafficking.

Laura Swanson

When Ingham County Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings III was charged with a wide range of prostitution-related crimes, it managed to refocus attention on sex crimes and human trafficking in Michigan.  Victims of these crimes include people forced to sell their bodies for sex and people used for cheap labor.  

Break the Chain, a new documentary on human trafficking in Michigan, premiers next month. 

Filmmaker Laura Swanson and human trafficking survivor Debbie joined Cynthia Canty on today's Stateside.


Professor confesses: "I'm a jaywalker"

May 8, 2016

University of Michigan English Professor Ann Curzan has a confession.

"I witness jaywalking on campus all the time and participate in the practice myself. I'm an impatient pedestrian," she admits. "When I lived in Seattle it was very difficult for me, because in Seattle people really do obey the crosswalks, but I struggled."

She'd never thought about where the word "jaywalking" came from until a friend's daughter asked about it.

"I found out it takes us back to another great word, that I hope we’ll be able to revive," she says. "It goes back to jay driver, and that shows up early 20th century, in a citation from 1905 in Kansas. Jay drivers were people who drove on the wrong side of the road," Curzan says.

Michael Byers introduces his English 346 class.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Some say you can mark the day the “golden age of radio” ended.

CBS Radio aired the final episode of the radio drama Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar at 6:35 p.m. on September 30th, 1962.

(You can find that last episode here.)

One English teacher at the University of Michigan says there’s a lot to learn from that era.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Mojito recipe:

  • 2 sprigs of mint
  • 1 oz. simple syrup 
  • 2 oz. white rum
  • 1/2 lime (quartered)
  • club soda


Strip the leaves from one sprig of mint. Place in shaker cup. Put lime quarters on top of mint. Muddle. (Putting the limes on top of the mint helps prevent bruising the mint which causes it to be bitter.) Add simple syrup and rum. Shake. Strain into high ball glass filled with ice. Add club soda until filled. Garnish with other sprig of mint.

Allison Leotta
Tim Coburn

All across Michigan, high school seniors are donning their caps and gowns and getting ready to graduate. For many, the next big adventure is going away to college. 

Allison Leotta hopes that her latest book will prompt students and parents to be informed and do some extra research when choosing a college. In particular, she wants to encourage them to check into reported incidents of sexual assault on campus. 

Leotta is a crime and suspense writer. Her latest book, The Last Good Girl, comes out today. 

Troy Hale is out with a new film. It's called, Fart: A Documentary.

And yes, it's everything its title suggests. 

Hale is a professor of Telecommunications, Information Studies and Media at Michigan State University and the director and owner of Tricky Hale Films.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Next month, a secluded treasure in the heart of Flint will open its doors to the general public.

The 100 year old Applewood estate was the home of Charles Stewart Mott, an auto industry pioneer and philanthropist.   The estate sits a short distance from Flint’s cultural district.

For decades, only the fortunate few had the chance to enter.

“It is a great Flint treasure that has been somewhat under-utilized,” says Megan McAdow, the Collections & Exhibitions Manager for the Ruth Mott Foundation.

However, that’s changing.

Vincent York

Vincent York, the front man for the Vincent York +4 will be performing in Ann Arbor on April 30, which is International Jazz Day. The composer, bandleader, educator and advocate for the arts joins Stateside to talk about his upcoming performance and why jazz should be celebrated.

Listen to the full interview below.

Professor Eugene Roberts leads the U of M Men's Glee Club through their performance of "The Seven Last Words of the Unarmed"

The names of men like Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner and others have been thrust violently into our nation's history. Unarmed African-American men, all killed. Their deaths gave rise to the Black Lives Matter movement and to badly-needed discussions about racial discrimination and social injustice. 

This spring, the University of Michigan Men's Glee Club added its voice in a singular way to this tough conversation.