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Heaven Was Detroit

From Jazz to Hip-Hop and Beyond

Edited by M. L. Liebler with a foreword by Dave Marsh

Award Winner

Detroit, Music

Painted Turtle

Published: October 2016
ISBN: 9780814341223
Pages: 504 Size: 10x10
Illustrations: 49 black and white images
Available May 2017
ISBN: 9780814341230
Book Images

Heaven Was Detroit: From Jazz to Hip Hop and Beyond is the first of its kind to capture the full spectrum of Detroit popular music from the early 1900s to the twenty-first century. Readers will find in this unique and stimulating anthology new essays, and a few classics, by widely known and respected music writers, critics, and recording artists who weigh in on their careers and experiences in the Detroit music scene, from rock to jazz and everything in between. With a foreword by the acclaimed rock writer Dave Marsh and iconic photos by Leni Sinclair, the book features such well-known writers as Greil Marcus, Jaan Uhelszki, Al Young, Susan Whitall, Gary Graff, John Sinclair, and many others.

Divided into nine sections, the book moves chronologically through the early days of jazz in Detroit, to the rock ’n’ roll of the 1960s, and up to today’s electronica scene, with so many groundbreaking moments in between. This collection of cohesive essays includes Motown’s connection to the Civil Rights Movement and the Black Power Movement through its side label, Black Forum Records; Lester Bangs’s exemplary piece on Alice Cooper; the story behind the emergence of rap legend Eminem; and Craig Maki’s enlightening history on "hillbilly rock" — just to name a few. With a rich musical tradition to rival Nashville, Detroit serves as the inspiration, backdrop, and playground for some of the most influential music artists of the past century.

Heaven Was Detroit captures the essence of the Detroit music scene: the grit, the spark, the desire to tell a story set to the rhythm of the city. Fans of any music genre will find something that speaks to them in the pages of this collection.

Published by: Painted Turtle

M. L. Liebler is an award-winning poet, literary arts activist, and professor. He is the author of several books of poetry, including I Want to Be Once (Wayne State University Press, 2016), and an editor of the anthology Working Words: Punching the Clock and Kicking Out the Jams (Coffee House Press, 2010). He is also co-editor of Bob Seger's House: An Anthology of Michigan Fiction (Wayne State University Press, 2016). He has taught at Wayne State University since 1980.

Contributors Include:
Al Young, Jim Gallert, Lars Bjorn, Gary Carner, Larry Gabriel, John Sinclair, Bill Harris, W. Kim Heron, R. J. Spangler, Marsha Music Philpot, Robert B. Jones, S. R. Boland, Matthew Smith, Joel Martin, Michael Hurtt, Gary Graff, Herb A. Jordan, Peter Benjaminson, Melba Joyce Boyd, Pat Thomas, Susan Whitall, Mike Dutkewych, John Rodwan Jr., Scott Morgan, Willy Wilson, George Moseman, L.E. Grimshaw, Herman Daldin, Chris Morton, Rick Allen, Lester Bangs, Jaan Uhelszki, Howard A. Dewitt, Ben Blackwell, Danny Kroha, Diane Spodarek, Brian McCollum, Greil Marcus, Bill Holdship, Matt Deapo, Shane M. Liebler, Daniel Jones, Brian Smith, Hobey Echlin, Craig Maki, Rhonda Welsh, Thomas Trimble, Aaron Anderson, Jarrett Koral, Rebecca Derminer, Dan Carlisle, Ben Edmonds

An incredible book. Comprehensive, panoramic, and makes a case for Detroit being the greatest music city in the US. Which it isn't. And that's how good this book truly is, raising the point —why isn't there a book like this for EVERY city in the US?

– Steve Wynn, singer/songwriter/guitarist of the Dream Syndicate

It seems there are certain places – my home town of Liverpool is one and Detroit is definitely another – that can’t so much as cough without producing music that awakens the world. You’d think giving birth to Motown would be enough for one city, but Detroit’s story didn’t start there and it sure as hell didn’t stop there. Now, thanks to M. L. Liebler's eloquent army of advocates, we can see a little deeper into this resilient city’s soul. This epic book is everything Detroit deserves.

– Paul Du Noyer, founding editor of MOJO: The Music Magazine and author of Conversations with McCartney

M.L. Liebler's shares his deep insights and passion for Detroit culture in this new anthology that assembles the A-list of music historians and storytellers from the one of the world's great musical cities. It will help shine the international spotlight on Detroit's valuable role in shaping some of the most significant music styles of the 20th and 21st centuries from Jazz and Blues to R&B, Rock, Rap and Techno.

– Judy Adams, musician, composer, musicologist, and WDET program director and prime time host for over 30 years

A ridiculously extensive genre-spanning overview of Detroit's contributions to music, featuring a chorus of authentic, distinct voices — there's something here for generalists and geeks alike. An essential addition to every music library!

– Michael T. Fournier, author of Double Nickels On the Dime and Swing State

M. L. Liebler's Heaven was Detroit is a fascinating compendium of thought on the dazzlingly complex music of the Motor City.

– David Ritz, Grammy Award winner, the only four-time winner of the Gleason Music Book Award, and author of Before You Judge Me: An Idiosyncratic Look at Michael Jackson

The musical terrain surveyed in the nearly 70 pieces is as vast as the city itself. . . . Readers will find insightful writing on already famous artists such as John Lee Hooker, Marvin Gaye, Bob Seger, the MC5, Eminem and Kid Rock. But equal space is devoted to forgotten or overlooked arcana . . .

– Troy Reimink, Detroit Free Press

Impressively researched, written, organized and presented [ . . . ]

– Michael J. Carson, Midwest Book Review

  • 2017 Michigan Notable Book Award - Result: 1 of 20 selected annually