Singer-songwriter Michael Bolton may have won a couple of Grammys crooning love songs, but he’s winning hearts by singing a new tune, one of his love for the city of Detroit. It was an unlikely love affair, but after excerpts of his Detroit documentary, “Gotta Keep Dreamin: Detroit’s 21st Century Renaissance” was revealed at the Fox Theatre on October 2, it was clear he realized that Detroit just needs some “Time, Love and Tenderness.”
What began as a simple trip for the artist to the Motown Museum three years ago, culminated into a film “celebrating the history, heroes and promise of an iconic city resurging.” Politicians and business leaders, including Mayor Mike Duggan, Senator Debbie Stabenow, Dan Gilbert and Ike McKinnon were just a few of the community influencers in attendance at the red carpet event.
Emceed by Mitch Albom of the Detroit Free Press, he and Bolton introduced segments of the film followed by live panel discussions with the community leaders highlighted in the previous footage.
The documentary begins with the historical and pop culture influence of Detroit and builds up to discuss the current entrepreneurial spirit set to fuel the future of the Motor City. Aretha Franklin, Smokey Robinson, Alice Cooper, Jerry Bruckheimer and John Varvatos are just a few of the notable Detroiters who share their affinity for the D. Interviews with Bill Ford, Chris Ilitch, Francis Ford Coppola and more, whose families have a long tradition in the city, showcase their personal stories and discuss why Detroit has so much social relevance in America’s past, present and future.
The film then turns toward the strides made in the city over the last few years, especially post-bankruptcy. Interviews with Mitch Albom, Mayor Duggan and Dan Gilbert, reveal not only the unrelenting pursuit of progress by community leaders, but also the optimism and belief that development in Detroit is not a risk but a reward. In the live panel discussion, Bolton said, “I’ve never seen such a large commitment to a city in my life.”
A few of the featured movers and shakers both in the film and on the panel:
- Jason Hall, co-founder of Slow Roll, a community bike ride with approximately 4,000 cyclists traveling a different route through the city every Monday.
- Veronika Scott, founder of the Empowerment Plan, whose design of jackets that transform into sleeping bags not only help the homeless, but also employs women from a local shelter, helping them move forward.
- Melissa Price CEO of dPOP, the design firm responsible for many of the restorations and transformations in downtown buildings.
- Kevin Nixon, UK transplant and co-founder of the Detroit Institute of Music Education (DIME), which allows specialization in songwriting, music entrepreneurship, guitar, bass, drums or vocals for those interested in pursuing a lifelong career in the music industry.
The audience had a chance to see the work they and many others are doing to make Detroit better every day, plus listen to their live commentary about why Detroit is exactly where they want to be.
As the night progressed, it was evident Bolton did not want to just make a film about Detroit, but to bring awareness to the dedication, determination and resiliency of the people who call Detroit home.
To close the event, Motown legend Martha Reeves, joined American Idol runner-up Jena Irene on stage with Bolton to sing “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” as an ode to seeing nothing but promise for the city that put the world on wheels and defined musical greatness.
While the film is not yet complete, it’s anticipated to be ready for 2016 film festivals. For more information on the project, visit MichaelBolton.com.