Music

Arts/Culture
10:05 am
Tue September 27, 2011

North Woods: Music of the Copper Country

Les Ross, Sr received the Michigan Heritage Award in 2009 for his "lumberjack" style of harmonica playing.
Jennifer Guerra Michigan Radio

The folklorist Alan Lomax spent nearly two months in the Upper Peninsula in 1938, recording the music of the north woods. He recorded lots of bawdy lumberjack tunes, Finnish songs and polkas. In a note to the Library of Congress, Lomax said "there was material enough in the region for years of work."

Today, most of that music has been lost to history. But Leslie (Les) Ross, Sr still plays it. Born in 1923 in Eben Junction, Ross is one of the last harmonica players in the country to play in the "lumberjack style."

As part of my Stories from the North Woods series, I sat down with Les Ross and percussionist Randy Seppola. With Ross on harmonica and Seppala on bones and spoons, they played me a number of old-timey tunes, and Ross talked about his days in Eben Junction and, of course, the harmonica.

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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.

Arts/Culture
3:28 pm
Wed August 3, 2011

Artpod: From the "extraordinary to the seemingly mundane" - an audio tour of the Stearns Collection

One of the many shelves inside the Stearns Collection of Musical Instruments
Jennifer Guerra Michigan Radio

The Cincinnati Art Museum recently discovered it had a long lost treasure trove of rare instruments in its possession. More than 800 antique instruments just sitting in storage…unused and pretty much forgotten.

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Arts/Culture
5:53 pm
Tue August 2, 2011

U of M houses more than 2,400 rare and contemporary instruments

Recent additions to the Stearns Collection of Musical Instruments
Jennifer Guerra Michigan Radio

The Cincinnati Art Museum last week discovered it had a long lost treasure trove of rare instruments in its possession. We're talking more than 800 antique instruments just sitting in storage, unused and pretty much forgotten.

Well it turns out the University of Michigan has three times as many historical instruments housed mostly off campus in a high-security vault.  

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Music News
2:37 pm
Fri July 22, 2011

Enterprising young musicians on the road to Interlochen

Cellist Sara Page (center, right) rehearses with the World Youth Symphony Orchestra at Interlochen Arts Camp. Page is among the campers who made an exceptional effort to raise funds to attend the camp this year.
Sam Oldenburg for NPR

Originally published on Fri July 22, 2011 12:01 am

For young people who want a career in the arts, a handful of prestigious summer camps are a vital early step. Interlochen, in northern Michigan, is one of them.

Jessye Norman, Josh Groban, Norah Jones and Lorin Maazel all spent summers at Interlochen when they were younger. But with tuition ranging from $3,000 to $10,000, depending on the campers' age and discipline, does it mean that only rich kids get to follow in their footsteps? It turns out that some extra-resourceful young people are paving their own way. I went to camp to meet them.

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Arts/Culture
11:03 pm
Thu July 14, 2011

The Strange Sound Of Motown's Early Hollywood Years

Soul group The Nu Page was one of the few artists who released music on MoWest in its brief history.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Thu July 14, 2011 11:09 pm

Everyone has heard of Motown Records, but few probably remember its Los Angeles offshoot, MoWest. It didn't last long — only two years — but during its life span, MoWest allowed Motown to try out new styles and genres and create one of the most eclectic rosters in the label's long history. Most of MoWest's releases have been out of print the past 40 years, but a new anthology called Our Lives Are Shaped By What We Love: Motown's MoWest Story 1971-1973 finally highlights the label's life and legacy.

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Arts/Culture
10:15 pm
Tue July 12, 2011

Mr. B pedals his 'boogie woogie' piano across Michigan

Marc Braun (right), Brian Delaney and Pete Siers pedal the 352-pound piano across Michigan.
Jennifer Guerra Michigan Radio

A quintet of musicians has been traveling across the state for the past 10 days. They don’t have a tour van or a u-haul stuffed with instruments. Instead, the guys are pedaling their bikes from Holland to Detroit…with their instruments in tow! They're also raising money for various charities along the way.

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Auto/Economy
8:00 am
Sun June 26, 2011

Musicians flock to Michigan for 75th Carillon World Congress

One of the carillon bells at U of M's Baird tower
Jennifer Guerra Michigan Radio

The sound of carillon bells will fill the air this week as Michigan hosts the 75th Carillon World Congress.

A carillon is a set of tuned bells in a tower, which are hooked up to a keyboard played manually by one person called a carilloneur.

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Arts/Culture
4:59 pm
Wed June 8, 2011

Artpod: Homegrown talent

Bigger Brush Media is one of many music collectives popping up around the state.
user: taliesin morguefile

There's no shortage of musicians who got their start in Michigan: Madonna, Iggy Pop and The White Stripes come to mind. Problem is, they left the state to make it big. 

Emily Fox reports there's a movement to try to encourage musicians and bands to stay in Michigan. On today's Artpod, we look at how local "music collectives" are hoping to keep homegrown talent in the state.

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Arts/Culture
10:43 am
Thu June 2, 2011

Music collectives keep talent in Michigan

Gun Lake records for Bigger Brush Media's "Quilted Attic Sessions."
Emily Fox Michigan Radio Newsroom

Madonna, Iggy Pop and The White Stripes got their start in Michigan, but they left the state to make it big in the music industry. Today, some musicians want to stop that migration and keep talent close to home. 

Kevin Prichard is with Bigger Brush Media in Lansing. He thinks music collectives can help keep people in Michigan.

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Arts/Culture
11:45 am
Tue May 3, 2011

Artpod: Arts Patronage 2.0

Michigan artists are turning to websites like Kickstarter to raise funds for their projects.
user Sultry creative commons

On today's Artpod, we'll take a look at how the image of the "rich" arts patron is starting to be re-imagined, thanks in large part to the internet.

Meet the artist...

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Arts/Culture
9:30 pm
Sun May 1, 2011

Arts Patronage 2.0

Composer Dave MacDonald raised $1,151 to fund his project using Kickstarter.
Jennifer Guerra Michigan Radio

Dave MacDonald is finishing up his doctorate in music composition at Michigan State University. When his friend asked him to compose a new piece for saxophone, MacDonald said sure, no problem. But there was one catch: he wanted to get paid. 

Arts patronage 1.0

MacDonald says getting paid would be hard for a few reasons: There's not a lot of money in classical music, and it's hard to get an arts grant if you're an unknown composer. Plus, he says, arts patrons are hard to come by: 

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Arts/Culture
1:00 pm
Sat April 30, 2011

Ann Arbor neighborhood opens up its lawns, porches for new music festival

Erin and Eric will perform with their band Lake Folk on Sunday at 4 p.m. as part of the first ever "Water Hill Music Festival"
Jennifer Guerra Michigan Radio

An Ann Arbor neighborhood will host a one-of-a-kind "front porch" music festival this weekend.

On Sunday, May 1 from 2 p.m. - 6 p.m., musicians who live in the city's Water Hill district will sit out on their front porch or lawn, and put on a show. It's called the Water Hill Music Fest, and more than 50 house in the neighborhood will participate.

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Arts/Culture
9:41 am
Thu April 28, 2011

Artpod: Rock 'n' roll and baseball

On this week's Artpod, we revel in some old-timey music and baseball.
user Clarita morguefile

Today's Artpod is all about nostalgia...Michigan-focused nostalgia, of course.

Rock Around the Clock

Did you know that 50 years ago this week, "Runaway" by Del Shannon was the #1 song in the U.S.? Don't worry, neither did I. But Michigan Radio's Mike Perini did! He's the station's resident music head. Turns out Del Shannon was born in Grand Rapids, and he grew up in nearby Coopersville. "Runaway" was the first rock 'n' roll song by a West Michigan-born artist to hit the top.

Mike talks to me in the first half of the podcast about some other classic rock 'n' roll songs written by Michigan artists, including the always popular "Rock Around the Clock," by Bill Haley.

Let's play ball!

A new play pays tribute to long-time Tigers baseball announcer Ernie Harwell. The play is called "Ernie" and it was written by best-selling author Mitch Albom. The play looks back at Harwell's life and includes vintage footage of the Hall of Fame announcer.

On the podcast I talk to Will David Young, the veteran Michigan actor who plays Ernie: 

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Arts/Culture
9:25 am
Wed April 27, 2011

Aretha Franklin plans hometown concert

Aretha Franklin says she's in better health and will hold a concert in Michigan this August.
Ben Alman Flickr

Last December, there was a lot of speculation about Aretha Franklin's health after she went into a hospital for undisclosed reasons. People held a prayer vigil, and there was speculation the soul singer had cancer.

Now she's back. Last February the AP reported she had "revamped her diet, giving up her beloved chitterlings, pigs' feet and ham hocks in favor of a Whole Foods-type diet."

She's getting ready to release a new album and is planning a hometown concert.

From the Associated Press:

Almost five months after undergoing serious surgery, hall of fame singer Aretha Franklin is coming out with a new album and has scheduled a hometown concert.

The 69-year-old Queen of Soul will play DTE Energy Music Theatre on Aug. 25. It's in Clarkston, north of her native Detroit.

And Franklin's new CD, "Aretha: A Woman Falling Out of Love," will be released in Wal-Mart stores on Tuesday.

The music legend underwent surgery in early December in Detroit for an undisclosed ailment. Since then, she's lost more than 80 pounds. Franklin says the weight loss was because of a change in diet and exercise.

She canceled several performances last year because of illness, but her show at DTE is one of a handful she has booked for this spring and summer.

Arts/Culture
5:03 pm
Fri April 8, 2011

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra strike has officially ended

After six long months, the DSO musicians return to the stage
Jennifer Guerra Michigan Radio

The musicians of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra have agreed to return to work after a six-month strike.

They ratified the $34.3 million, three-year contract this afternoon. The deal includes an initial 25% pay cut for the musicians the first year. Starting musicians used to earn $104, 650 their first year; they'll earn $79,000 under the new contract.

There’s an additional $2 million pot of money which management will use to pay musicians for optional community outreach work and educational programs that include teaching, coaching and chamber music.

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Arts/Culture
5:46 pm
Wed April 6, 2011

"Art X Detroit" puts spotlight on the city's literary, visual and performing arts scene

Art X Detroit runs Apr. 6 - 10, 2011
Photo courtesy of Art X Detroit

The Detroit arts world will be in the spotlight this week.

The first ever Art X Detroit event runs Wednesday, April 6 - Sunday, April 10 and will feature everything from hip hop performances to classical and jazz music to poetry readings.

The event features the 40 artists who have won visual, literary, or performing arts fellowships through the Kresge Foundation over the past two years.

Lewis Aguilar is a 2010 Kresge Literary Arts fellow. For Art X Detroit, he’s written a story about Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera and their time in Detroit. A dramatic reading of the work will take place at Rivera Court in the Detroit Institute of Arts:

"I will have people reading that story in the form of a 3-act play, while more than 100 images are being shown on a very large screen behind them."

Chido Johnson was a 2009 Kresge “Visual Artist” fellow, and he’s excited to display his new work during Art X Detroit. He says "Detroit has been identified over and over again as a decayed city, and this is a way to really emphasize how rich and cultural it is.

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Arts/Culture
5:36 pm
Mon April 4, 2011

Detroit Symphony musicians agree to go back to work before voting on new contract

The Detroit Symphony announced late this afternoon that orchestra musicians have agreed to return to work before voting on a new contract. The DSO and its musicians' union reached a tentative contract deal over the weekend.

The musicians' union met this afternoon. After the meeting, the DSO announced the musicians will return to work on Thursday to begin rehearsing for upcoming concerts. The union plans a vote on the union contract later this week.

In a written statement, music director Leonard Slatkin expressed the hope that the DSO will emerge strong from the strike that has silenced it for the past six months:

“As we return to our home, I’m confident that the artistic product will continue at the highest possible level.  There is much to be done but the DSO will emerge a healthier and stronger institution.”

Arts/Culture
12:27 pm
Mon March 21, 2011

U.S. Supreme Court declines to take up Emimem case

This photo was taken on July 3, 2007 in Reparto Vista Alegre, Santiago de Cuba, SC, CU,
(flickr Barry Cornelius)

Its all about ringtones.     

The Associated Press reports the U.S Supreme Court won't get involved in a fight between Eminem's former production company and Universal Music Group over downloads of the rapper's songs and ringtones.

The high court on Monday refused to hear an appeal from Universal Music Group. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said F.B.T. Productions LLC's contract entitled Eminem and his producers to a 50-50 split with Universal for recordings licensed to digital distributors such as Apple Inc.'s iTunes.

The record label had paid F.B.T. and Eminem 12 percent of sales, the agreed-upon rate for physical albums. F.B.T. discovered Eminem in 1995 before he signed in 1998 with Dr. Dre's Aftermath Records. Universal's Interscope Records distributes Aftermath recordings. The case is Aftermath Records v. F.B.T. Productions, LLC, 10-768.

On the Radio
4:05 pm
Fri March 11, 2011

In case you missed it...

user cpstorm Flickr

Michigan Radio broadcasts hundreds of stories, interviews, and commentaries every week.

One person can't possibly hear them all.

Here, you'll find a few stories we think you might like to hear:

Oh You Shouldn't Have... no really - This American Life

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