Top 5 Most Influential Music Cities

DETROIT, USA – Birthplace of Motown & Techno.

Detroit perhaps most famously home to Motown records, a label thats style was so distinct it eventually became recognised as it’s own genre.The imprint was founded by Berry Gordy in the late 50’s. Originally called ‘Tamla’, once it became Motown it was the label that gave us some of the world’s most popular recording acts of the time (and to this day!)

“I grew up in Brooklyn, and my mom and pop had an extensive record collection, so Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder and all of those sounds and souls of Motown filled the house” Jay-Z

Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye and Smokey Robinson were all part of the Motown family, and their influence in today’s modern R&B cannot be disputed (Usher, Pharell, Drake, Timberlake).There was always a strong R&B culture alive in Detroit even before Motown, and later still came a strange mutation of the sound that got people really moving. Pioneered by George Clinton in 1967, the release of the (then called) The Parliament’s track ‘I wanna testify’ signalled the birth of ‘Funk’ as we know it.

Fast-forward 20 or so years and Detroit was hosting a new musical revolution – the arrival of ‘Techno’ music.

The Belleville Three – L-R, Juan Atkins, Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson

It’s said that the movement was pioneered by the ‘Belleville three’ – Derrick May, Kevin Saunderson and Juan Atkins (the three studied at Belleville high school together) but the man responsible for influencing those guys was DJ Charles ‘The electrifying mojo’ Johnson who hosted the late night, 5 hour ‘Midnight Funk Association’ show that was played on a lot of Detroit stations.

The music Johnson played on the show was a mix of electronic pioneers (Kraftwerk, Giorgio Moroder etc) and other off-kilter new-wave stuff such as the B-52s, with a healthy dose of local Funk of course (courtesy of Parliament, Funkadelic, P-Funk or whatever they were called at that time).

Maria Petrenko