Artists from Detroit by Jasmine Battie

Vanessa Bell Armstrong – Gospel Singer


Vanessa Bell Armstrong, an artist steeped in the enduring gospel traditions of Detroit’s black churches, did much to blaze the trail that later artists could follow. But when Armstrong first began to merge sacred and secular in her music, she had to endure criticism and has received insufficient credit for her part in creating an extremely significant musical movement.

“Vanessa Bell Armstrong.” Contemporary Black Biography. Vol. 24. Detroit: Gale, 2000. Gale Biography In Context. Web. 12 Oct. 2012.

David Winans – Gospel singer


David “Pop” Winans was patriarch of a clan widely known as the “first family of gospel music.” His seven sons and three daughters all went on to acclaimed careers in sacred music, and their records won numerous Grammy Awards.

“David Winans.” Contemporary Black Biography. Vol. 77. Detroit: Gale, 2010. Gale Biography In Context. Web. 12 Oct. 2012.

Ronald Winans – Gospel Singer


As a member of the award-winning contemporary gospel family quartet the Winans, Ronald Winans was a pioneer in the incorporation of modern pop sounds into the language of gospel music. As the leader of his own group, Ronald Winans Family & Friends, he brought contemporary sounds to a choral format and helped launch the careers of younger musicians.

“Ronald Winans.” Contemporary Black Biography. Vol. 54. Detroit: Gale, 2006. Gale Biography In Context. Web. 12 Oct. 2012.

Cece Winans – Gospel Singer


CeCe Winans has shimmered brightly in the Gospel and Christian Contemporary markets while also warming audiences both secular and religious. With an array of Grammy and Dove Awards—and numerous gold and platinum albums—Winans credits her musical success entirely to God’s handiwork in her life.

“CeCe Winans.” Contemporary Black Biography. Vol. 43. Detroit: Gale, 2004. Gale Biography In Context. Web. 12 Oct. 2012.

Bebe Winans – Gospel Singer


From a family of greats, vocalist, songwriter, and producer BeBe Winans has played a key role in the music industry. His talents as a songwriter land him in the credits of artists such as Gladys Knight, Yolanda Adams, Brandy, Bobby Brown, Eternal, Chante Moore, Dave Koz, Nancy Wilson, and Stephanie Mills.

“BeBe Winans.” Notable Black American Men, Book II. Ed. Jessie Carney Smith. Vol. 2. Detroit: Gale, 2006. Gale Biography In Context. Web. 12 Oct. 2012.

Angie and Debbie Winans – Gospel Singer


The ninth and tenth children of Mom & Pop Winans, Angie and Debbie Winans grew up in the most musical family in the gospel industry, and soon followed in the footsteps of their older brothers and sister. The pair sang backup vocals with countless Winans projects and even toured with Whitney Houston.

Detroit Techno by ReChard Peel

Detroit techno is a type of techno music that generally includes the first techno productions by Detroit-based artists during the late 1980s and early 1990s. Detroit has been cited as the birthplace of techno. Prominent Detroit techno artists include Juan Atkins, Derrick May, and Kevin Saunderson. A distinguishing trait of Detroit techno is the use of analog synthesizers and early drum machines, particularly the Roland TR-909, or, in later releases, the use of digital emulation to create the characteristic sounds of those machines.

Detroit techno music was originally thought of as a subset to Chicago’s early style of house. Many of the early techno tracks had futuristic or robotic themes, although a notable exception to this trend was a single by Derrick May under his pseudonym “Rhythim Is Rhythim”, called “Strings of Life” (1987). This vibrant dancefloor anthem was filled with rich synthetic string arrangements and took the underground music scene by storm in May 1987. It hit Britain in an especially big way during the country’s 1987-1988 house explosion.” It became May’s best known track, which, according to Frankie Knuckles, “just exploded. It was like something you can’t imagine, the kind of power and energy people got off that record when it was first heard. “ With subtle differences between the genres, clubs in both cities included Detroit techno and Chicago house tracks in their playlists without objection from patrons.


Artist and notable African American people from Detroit by ReChard Peel

Sugar Ray Robinson


Widely regarded as the greatest boxer ever pound for pound, Sugar ray Robinson was a Detroit native who began boxing training at a very young age. He had his first match when he was 15, and from there became a legend. He got his name because he need a fake id for his first fight and the id he received was for a boxer by the name of ray sugar robinson.

George Gervin


George Gervin is an NBA super star who was born in Detroit, Michigan. He played from 1972-86. Most of his career was with the san Antonio spurs. He led the NBA in scoring 4 times and was an NBA all star 5 times.

Joe Louis


Joe Louis, was an American professional boxer and the World Heavyweight Champion from 1937 to 1949. He is considered to be one of the greatest heavyweights of all time. Nicknamed the Brown Bomber, Louis helped elevate boxing’s popularity. Louis’ championship reign lasted 140 consecutive months, during which he participated in 27 championship fights,

Donyale Luna


Donyale Luna ) was an American model and cover girl from Detroit, Michigan. She appeared in many films throughout the 1960s, and had a very successful career.

Warren Spears


Warren Spears was an American dancer and choreographer. Born in Detroit, Michigan, he studied dance as a child, then moved to New York City in 1972 to study at the Juilliard School.  Spears danced with the Alvin Ailey troupe from 1974 to 1977, when he left to concentrate on his own choreography. Spears returned to New York, where he founded his own dance company, the Spears Collection. And he had a very successful career surrounding that.

Brazeal Dennard


Brazeal Dennard was an African-American singereducatorChoral director, and musical arranger. He has been a significant contributor in the preservation and revitalization of the spiritual musical form. His efforts helped moved the African-American spiritual beyond the confines of the church, exposing not only the beauty of this music, but also its historical importance to a wider audience.


Ron Milner


Playwright Ron Milner is considered one of the more exciting writers who came to national prominence during the explosive black theater movement of the 1960s. His most notable plays included Who’s Got His Own, and Checkmates.

“1960 What” by Gregory Porter

“1960 What” by Gregory Porter became the theme song for this years Cultural Arts Festival. The song refers to the 1967 riots was started by the raid of a blind pig (a juke joint) that led to the arrest of an African American woman. After she was handcuffed she was kicked while being put into the police car by an officer. This caused an uprising. The versus in the song give stories about the shooting of Martin Luther King and injustice of police brutality on young African American men. The lyrics “The Motor City is burning” talk about the fires that engulfed the city as homes and businesses were burned down as well as the condition that the city was in.

Poem by Jasmine Battie


He introduced himself

Laid back full of soul

Had this air that would fill any room he was in

He was fine yal

Tall, dark, and handsome

Smooth like Midnight

He told me about his story

How he died young and was reborn,

all in one rotation of existence

He carried these ashes in his belly

Set fire to the foundation of dreams

He burned a path to freedom

And one day he got wind of his own smoke

Choke on the air and died there

While the Motown sound played in the background

He lived once

through the spirits of creation and devastation

And somehow still managed to innovate his beauty

He since then has been forgotten

But he still lays instilled in your dreams

The streets still echoes his name when you sleep

You may hear whispers of his story,

if you take the time

and listen to the wind carefully

You’ll hear his story, his history

He’s not history

He’s our history

And I came here to tell you that

Detroit lives yal,

Detroit still lives

Post by: Jasmine Battie

“Why Detroit?” by Jasmine “Blondie” Morris


Why Detroit?

Coming to a city near you

Feature films of flickering hope

Misappropriation of land and funds

Leading to the miss-education of young ones

That were left in the factories that

Once produced young hot guns

That aimed the shot

of them owning their first car

Open scars, open stares

Wounds wound with barb wires

for other to look but never to touch

The truth behind the gossip

The worship of the media

History outsourced to Wikipedia

No need to feel, no need to know the story

A synopsis is enough

The Homicide of Detroit

Suicidal Detroit,

Damaged Detroit

Perpetuating its death and

Ignoring the possibility of its beloved rebirth

It’s worth can be found in black bodies

Migrating to blacktown, USA

Areas of growth and promise

And they do flourish not realizing that

Detroit’s demise is the blue print to their downfall

And its uprising is it’s life support

Written by: Jasmine “Blondie” Morris

Nico Whitehead Motor City Experience

My overall experience with the Motor City trip along with CAF enlightened me to a great ordeal. And I am now more self aware and conscientious of the Black mobility movement in Detroit. The movement itself was beyond significant and is very inspirational for my work as an artist. I was able to witness many historical monuments, revolutions, and of course the culture in the D. Detroit has a lot to offer for Black people, essentially it is home to “The Shrine of the Black Madonna” as well as the “Nation of Islam.” Two pivotal Black revolutionary party’s that were key to our survival at one time. And its also populated with about 80% of Black people which is empowering. The art and culture of Detroit was incredible and overwhelming. I really appreciated every visible object. It amazed me that everyone I came in contact with were self aware and self motivated to rebuild the city with art, history, and culture. What stood out in the trip was the church visit with Rev. Nicholas Hood. This was the first stop on our trip to Detroit and most memorable. I remember talking to him about the how his church is trying their best uplift and rebuild the city. His church opened up housing apartments for lower-middle income single parent mothers. They also opened up a charter school and day care for those children. This was much appreciate from me just to witness Black people giving back to community and doing all they can to aid the Black community. Finally the church gives a couple grand and scholarships to all its church members who are attempting to enroll in college. I also appreciate going to the Charles Wright Museum which is the largest African American history museum in the world. This was an all day experience and was well worth it. I left that place with memories and visual elements that will last me forever. Couple things stood out about the museum, one of which was the tour of the African American experience. This was a visual tour of it all, starting off to where we were living in Africa, to the slave trade, the auction block, to the 13th amendment, and finally showing the progression of Black people. The tour ended with a collage of our great revolutionaries, musicians, and artist. It felt so surreal being there with all those monumental images of my history, I felt empowered. The CAF performance was a success, and I appreciate being in a creative environment around a talented group of Black people. I believe we represented every element of the Detroit trip proficiently. I also enjoyed meeting new people and building new found friendship through our common bond of the BCC performing arts. Overall the Detroit trip as well as the CAF was very inspirational. I am now feeling more empowered and more self aware as a young Black artist.