Big Dreams for the Big Show
Art X, the sprawling art exhibition, employs Kresge fellows to showcase local talent using Midtown as its backdrop
Published: April 10, 2013
KRESGE LITERARY FELLOW
“I am a primordial Detroiter,” says Music. “I feel a sort of ancient connection to that land. I feel that I am just rooted in the city. I have the feeling of Detroit in my bones.” Recalling being one of the first African-American families on her block in Highland Park, the literary fellow said, “I have been at the nexus of a lot of change in Detroit. These stories have been in me wanting to get out.”
Music will narrate her quintessentially Detroit story of growing up in her father’s record shop in her multi-media presentation “Live from Hastings Street – A One Woman Show” on April 15 at 5 pm at the MOCAD.
“Detroit was the promised land, the center of all things new and important in the world. To go from living in a city that was regarded in that way, and to see one’s environment, and in some ways, one’s sense of self, to be reduced to rubble, to be regarded as a catastrophe. It takes much to maintain your own equilibrium. To be a Detroiter is to be able to coexist with both of these Detroits.”
In “Live from Hastings Street,” Music will recount the story of her father, Joe Von Battle, and his Hastings Street record shop. Before Berry Gordy, Von Battle recorded the sermons of the Rev. C. L. Franklin and was the first to record Franklin’s daughter, Aretha. He recorded many other iconic artists such as John Lee Hooker, Little Sonny, Little Willie John, Sonny Boy Williamson, and Johnnie Bassett.
“That particular story is an elegy for my father. But the arc of his story is a mirror of the arc of the city itself.”
Music says that the Kresge fellowship allowed her to create this presentation for Art X, and that “Doing the work on this Art X project compelled me to pull my story together in a different way. And I realized that now I have my book. I have the kernel.”
Music attended Art X as a visitor in 2011, and was really impressed with Tyree Guyton’s block-long installation of 10,000 shoes to illustrate the plight of the homeless. “It was a transcendent moment of showing what art does in a community,” she said. “I’m sure there will be similar experiences this year. It’s an amazing festival.”
She was very pleased to have her work validated by the award, and said “It is very affirming that the Kresge panelists recognize the depth of talent here and the diversity of it.”
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