Michael Bolton Celebrates Detroit In New Documentary
Like so many of us, Michael Bolton fell in love with the music of Detroit. Whether it was Motown greats such as Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye early on in his life, later rock luminaries Alice Cooper and Bob Seger or the “Queen Of Soul,” Aretha Franklin, the Grammy-winning Bolton has long been a fan of the Detroit scene.
In 2013 he recorded Ain’t No Mountain High Enough: A Tribute To Hitsville, celebrating his love of the Motor City. Having celebrated his long-standing fandom of the city in song he is now turning his attention to the cinema. On May 15, one night only, Fathom Events will present American Dream: Detroit in theaters (https://www.fathomevents.com/events/american-dream?gclid=CjwKCAjwlcXXBRBhEiwApfHGTVuL6V_HDZAqIq2i9dcs8e30nN8iNkazBwmwz_X8H6QuntmINXlBMhoC6w4QAvD_BwE).
Featuring interviews with Robinson, Franklin, designer John Varvatos, director Francis Ford Coppola and Cooper, among others, as well as tales of the “Big Three” (Ford, General Motors and Chrysler), American Dream: Detroit is, according to Bolton, about way more than music or even one city. It is the study of the American dream.
I spoke with Bolton about his choice for the greatest Detroit song, the allure of the city and playing golf with Cooper.
Steve Baltin: Most people think only of Motown when it comes to Detroit, but that is also the place the techno movement started. What were the things that surprised you the most when you started studying Detroit for this documentary?
Michael Bolton: A lot of people don’t know that, they think primarily of Motown. Diversity becomes a much bigger word when you’re telling the entire story of Detroit. And you appreciate it from a musical perspective, the creative people — artists, writers, musicians — the music that came from Detroit and still is coming from Detroit. I give a shout out to Motown because there are so many hits that came out of there in a very, very concentrated period of time. I now am a bit biased towards the core that came from Motown because, after a certain level of success, I met my heroes, like Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson and [Brian] Holland/[Lamont] Dozier/[Eddie] Holland, I got to work with them, do shows with them. It’s like being a kid and throwing the ball with Babe Ruth 25 years later. It’s a miracle. At the same time some of our greatest heroes are people like Alice Cooper, Aretha Franklin, she was not a Motown artist, it doesn’t really matter what label. It got to me that the Beatles were inspired by what was coming out of Detroit and the Beatles were the ones responsible for my brother and I being harassed for having long hair all those years ago. But I find that the kind of diversity in the music scene spills over into every area into Detroit.
Baltin: What were some of the themes that emerged in the film?
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