Detroit is a major musical center in the United States, and it is safe to say that not many cities in the world match this musical heritage. The city in Michigan is well known as the birthplace of musical artists like Diana Ross, Jackie Wilson, and Wes Montgomery. Detroit has a reputation as the jazz hub, has contributed significantly to the RnB, punk rock, and techno music scene, and is well known for its Motown development. The city of Detroit has undoubtedly impacted popular music immensely, and at the forefront of this trend were the Black musicians and artists.
Once, the booming city of Detroit was popular as the Paris of the West, owing to the scenic natural beauty, wide boulevards, and classic architecture of the area. The city later began to be known as the Motor City as Henry Ford grew his automobile industry during the early 20th century. Detroit became a major center for the automobile industry, with hundreds of factories of various brands, such as Ford, Hudson, Chrysler, and General Motors. The musical heritage of Detroit city started in 1898 when Jerome Remick established a publishing company for sheet music. During the early 1900s, when the country was amid WWI, people turned to Society Band Music for relief. Society Band Music is considered the predecessors of the bands in the 1930s and consisted of light classical music with no room for improvisation. Remick’s success with the publishing company eventually helped to create the iconic Detroit Orchestra Hall in 1919. The most popular bands during the time were Jean Goldkette Victor Recording Orchestra and McKinney’s Cotton Pickers, both well known for their contributions to the jazz music scene.
During WW2, the city of Detroit became a significant center for armament manufacturing. The hundreds of automobile plants established in the place were involved in developing tank engines, jeeps, and bombers for the army. During this period, Detroit saw a major phase of migration. Young people were attracted to plenty of blue-collar jobs in Detroit, hoping for steady employment and income. During the 1930s, the big society bands were replaced by smaller, skilled groups of people known as the Cabaret Bands. The period saw the emergence of Paradise Valley as the prime center for entertainment; it was the place for socialization and after-hour conversations. After WW2, the music trends changed directions – while some preferred jazz, some others preferred individual singers and pop music. During the 1950s, Detroit witnessed the emergence of rock’n’roll and the rise of iconic star Elvis Presley. The rise of Motown and the popularity of rock’n’roll eventually saw the demise of the Detroit blue scene in the late 1960s.
The glorious days of the past are long gone – Detroit is no longer a booming and thriving center for music. A despairing cry for help has replaced the former opulence of the popular music theatres. The popular music venue, Grand Ballroom in Detroit, is no longer in use and is lying empty reveling silently in its past splendor.
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