Another music festival has been added to Detroit's summer lineup of cultural events with a goal to "fill a gap and put it all together."
Detroit Music Weekend, hosted by Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts, will offer a lineup of about 300 Michigan-native artists and performers from a range of genres on four stages in downtown Detroit this weekend.
Other featured acts include Ann Arbor native neo-soul singer Mayer Hawthorne with his group Tuxedo, Detroit gospel choir Larry Callahan & Selected of God Choir, Ann Arbor native and singer Laith Al-Saadi who was a finalist on "The Voice" and Westland native country singer Josh Gracin of "American Idol" fame.
Founding Director Vince Paul, president and artistic director of Music Hall, said he is using his "tool of music" to unite Detroiters, display the arts and expose businesses to help invigorate the local economy. The festival idea, he said, evolved from a suggestion by former General Motors Foundation President Vivian Pickard and a group of philanthropists to connect the city's various programs.
"Some festivals appeal to a single demographic and there wasn't one that puts it all together," Paul told Crain's. "Detroit has contributed to every genre, so one way of uniting our community is through our music. Let's put all of it on display."
Music Hall, with help from lead sponsors Southfield-based Lear Corp. and Dearborn-based Ford Motor Co., has put up about $500,000 to organize the event to celebrate rock, R&B, hip hop, techno, gospel and other genres Detroit artists have impacted. The festival will take place in the district bounded by Madison Street, Brush Street, Gratiot Avenue and Randolph Street, Centre Street and John R Street.
Paul said the location will offer a different scene than Hart Plaza, Belle Isle and the west riverfront parking lot where many festivals are held. He wants people to be able to park their car, walk and discover what's around and take advantage of the area's restaurants and stores.
"I've coined this term 'Woodward Mall' because it's a unique set of retail stores that you cannot find at Somerset mall or anywhere else," Paul said. "And it's now complete enough between the Detroit River and Grand Circus that it's a pretty unique mall. I'm trying to illuminate the 5 million people who live in Southeast Michigan to this entertainment district that's unparalleled because they haven't fathomed how much it has grown."
Outside of music, the festival will offer more than a dozen interactive cultural displays, nine retail booths and nine food trucks. The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, Detroit Music Foundation/Detroit Music Awards and Detroit Historical Museum, among others, will have exhibits. Vendors include Madison Heights-based outdoor gear retailer Moosejaw, Ann Arbor-based comic book store Vault of Midnight Inc. and wine seller House of Pure Vin in Detroit. Local donut shop Dilla's Delights, Stroh Brewery Co. and Roseville-based Lazybones Smokehouse will park a truck and serve food to guests.