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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

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Music, Detroit

Painted Turtle

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Paperback
Published: October 2016
ISBN: 9780814341223
Pages: 504 Size: 10x10
Illustrations: 49 black and white images
eBOOK
Published: 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 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 and Other Stories (Wayne State University Press, 2016). He has taught at Wayne State University since 1980.

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

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

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 thirty years

Heaven Was Detroit is a valuable collection whose diversity is, like the city itself, one of its greatest strengths.

– Joshua S. Duchan, The Michigan Historical Review

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 nd something that speaks to them in the pages of this collection.

– Aisha K. Staggers, BookTrib

M. L. Liebler curates an exhaustive collection of essays about Detroit music by a diverse group of music scholars, journalists, and musicians. Instead of relying on familiar narratives about Motown and rock and roll, this anthology engages a vast array of musical genres and sub-genres, while sharing the oft-surprising hidden histories of artists, institutions, and communities integral to Detroit's unique sound.

– Kimberly Mack, New Books Network

  • 2016 Foreword INDIES Book Award - Result: 2016 Silver Medal Winner for Performing Arts & Music
  • 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Awards - Result: Finalist in the Regional Non-Fiction category
  • 2017 Michigan Notable Book Award - Result: 1 of 20 selected annually