Detroit Soul


Anglorama nr 3/2006 (35)i

Detroit Soul

Wiecznie pochmurne miasto Detroit kojarzy sie głównie z motoryzacją, fabrykami i wysokim poziomem przestępczości. Niemniej, Detroit było i jest domem dla wielu świetnych muzyków.


Detroit (Michigan, USA) is not a city that people associate with positive attitudes and cheerful music. One reason for that is the constantly cloudy weather. Another is the graceless, postindustrial architecture of the city. It fact, it was the heavy industry that made Detroit what it is. Henry Ford built his car factory there already in 1903. Today, the headquarters of three major  American car manufacturers, that is Ford Motor Company, General Motors and Chrysler, are also located in Detroit. Countless factories, producing chemicals, weapons, steel and machines, did not make the place any more beautiful.

The city attracted numerous immigrants and members of ethnic minorities who were looking for a job in one of the factories. The mixture of cultures and races turned out to be highly explosive in 1970s when ethnic riots devastated the city. In 1980s the infamous NBA „Bad Boys" from Detroit Pistons, namely Bill Laimbeer and Denis Rodman, who used extremely brutal tactics on the court, confirmed the city's reputation as the place where only the toughest will survive. What is more, the streets of the crime-infested city inspired Paul Verhoeven, a movie director, to set the plot of his thriller Robocop in Detroit. Many movie fans still remember the cybernetic cop, played by Peter Weller, who shot criminals one by one with no sign of emotion. Even today, when one looks at the statistics, the city is one of the leaders in the number of homicides, although the overall situation seems to be improving.

Unsurprisingly, the atmosphere of the city has had a big impact on the sort of music produced there. There seem to be two ways to handle „the Detroit state of mind". One of them is to yield to it. A good example is Eminem whose songs are often full of anger, frustration and hatred. The other way is to oppose it.

In 1950s and 60s, a Detroit-based record company, Motown Records, helped such artists as Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross & the Supremes, The Jackson 5, and Stevie Wonder produce the
r songs. The music they made had nothing in common with what Detroit was known for. It was vibrant with energy and positive emotions. Soon it became famous world-wide and it did much good for the image of African-Americans. Strangely enough, when the company left Detroit and moved to sunny California, it turned out that some of its unique style and energy disappeared on the way. Yet, the record company still cooperates with some of the most talented R&B artists, such as Erykah Badu.

Many modern Detroit artists draw inspiration from the original sound of Motown. One of them is Amp Fiddler. A great piano player and a talented singer, he has worked with such artists as Prince, George Clinton, Jamiroquai, and Brand New Heavies. Both his solo records „Waltz of the Ghetto Fly" and „Afro Strut" were greeted with much enthusiasm by R&B fans and his concerts are said to be unforgettable events. Amp wants to revive the original energy of Detroit Motown sound. In his own words: „There's a lot of different types of music and there are a lot of people who are working together to make Detroit about the market for music like it used to be. And you know what's cool about Detroit? There's a lot of individuality and style. People aren't really trying to sound like one another and we just doing our own thing and we're trying to get the exposure that we need to get out there"

Tomasz Siekierski

cheerful - radosny
graceless - pozbawiony wdzięku
countless - niezliczony
to attract - przyciągać
minority - mniejszość (etniczna)
explosive - wybuchowy
riots - zamieszki
infamous - niesławny
to confirm - potwierdzać
tough - twardy (o człowieku)
crime-infested - dotknięty przestepczoocią
plot - fabuła
homicide - zabójstwo (człowieka)
to handle - radzić sobie z
to yield - ulegać
hatred - nienawiść
vibrant with energy - tętniący energią
R&B - muzyka Rythym & Blues
revive - ożywiać
to do your own thing - „robić swoje"
exposure - rozgłos

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