Artistry in Detroit has always been anchored by music. As the industrial age brought families of descendants of enslaved Black people, immigrants from embattled European nations, and hundreds of thousands of American White migrants from across America to Detroit throughout the 1920’s, 30’s, and 40’s; the culture of Detroit enriched. Vocalists and musicians from Detroit have ranged from Jackie Wilson, to Bob Seger, to Aretha Franklin, to Madonna leaving lasting impacts on music. The storied history of legends in Blues, Rock and Roll, Soul, and Dance music have changed the world. More importantly, the culture of Detroit music shaped Detroit. For the month of March 2015 I feature an active, inspiring, and talented legend in music; the Singer: Thornetta Davis.
I was introduced to Thornetta Davis by our mutual friend Paul Miles. In 2008 we both were performers at Palmer Park’s ‘Art in the Park Fair.’ Mile’s booked us as both as performing artists separately. Thornetta and I arrived at the same time. I was glad and humbled to meet her and surprisingly she was aware of my music. I didn’t have the time to tell her then that I had been a fan of hers for years.
I was introduced to her music in Los Angeles CA (Detroit music has an audience across the world!). One of my favorite places to visit is Amoeba Music in Los Angeles. It’s one of the largest record stores in the world. Stocking over 250K records (I think my music maybe shelved there). Amoeba Music has a ‘Detroit Soul’ music catalog. Amongst the complete catalog for Aretha Franklin, and Ortheia Barnes sat the music of Thornetta Davis. I was looking for Aretha Franklin’s ‘Spirit in the Dark’ album. I walked away buying Aretha’s ‘Spirit in the Dark’, Ortheia’s ‘Person to Person,’ and Davis’ ‘Sunday Moring Music.’ Ever since then I’ve been a fan.
Below is a link to listen to the song ‘Sunday Morning’ from the ‘Sunday Morning Music’ album.
Thornetta is the ‘Blues Diva.’ Her music and range of creativity is rooted in Blues and blossoms to Gospel, Soul, Rock, and Jazz. Davis (as many of my favorite music artists) creates music that goes beyond musical genres. ‘Sunday Morning’ is a song featured on her 1996 debut album ‘Sunday Morning Music’ that uses her vocals, and acoustic guitar to fulfill the track beautifully. The accolades she’s received throughout her career only further support her talents. Thornetta has been inducted into Canada’s Southern Blues Museum, won over 25 Detroit Music Awards (including Best Blues/ R&B Vocalist in 2014), and the Living Lifetime Achievement Award from the Detroit Blues Society, all honoring her great talent.
The coolest honor I feel she’s had is the chance to share a marquee, stage, and performance with Blues royalty BB King at the Fox Theater. Thornetta’s performance only supports her talent tremendously. Recently attending her Valentine’s Day show with my mentor and friend Helen Love we witnessed Thornetta at her best. Her charisma, demeanor, and charm on stage build a bond with the audience in the style of performers like Nancy Wilson, Diahann Carroll, and Ortheia Barnes & Miley Scott. As a hip-hop performer, I find each of these women to have a talent in establishing a rapport, context, and relationships with audiences throughout a performance. This is style of performance neglects the 4th wall many performers use on stage. Thonetta’s on stage persona captures her humor, wit, and charm creating an experience that is amazing.
This month it’s my pleasure to feature the Singer: Thornetta Davis for Detroit is Different.
Tuesday March 3rd INTRODUCTION the Singer: Thornetta Davis
Tuesday March 10th MY DETROIT STORY: Marrying at African World Festival
Tuesday March 17th WHAT IF: What if Paradise Valley were still in Detroit?
Tuesday March 24th AROUND DETROIT: with Thornetta Davis
Tuesday March 31st DETROIT is DIFFERENT PODCAST with Thornetta Davis