Trending
Most Read
  • Once-controversial Diego Rivera murals now national landmark

    Oh, the irony — initially criticized as Marxist propaganda when Mexican muralist Diego Rivera painted them for the Detroit Institute of Arts in the early 1930s, Detroit Industry has now been designated as a a national landmark. The announcement was made Wednesday, according to the Detroit News by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis as part of National Park Week. The designation does not change the ownership status of the murals or grant any new protections or rights, leaving its place among the rest of the DIA’s art in possible bankruptcy negotiations in question. The work is considered the best of Rivera’s work in the United States (another mural Rivera had done in New York was destroyed by orders of Nelson Rockefeller). Rivera himself regarded Detroit Industries paintings as his finest work. In the midst of the McCarthy era, the DIA posted this sign outside the court: Rivera’s politics and his publicity seeking are detestable. But let’s get the record straight on what he did here. He came from Mexico to Detroit, thought our mass production industries and our technology wonderful and very exciting, painted them as one of the great achievements of the twentieth century. This came […]

    The post Once-controversial Diego Rivera murals now national landmark appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit area code 313 may be phased out

    Hey, everybody from the 313, start thinking of new numbers to rally around– the longstanding Detroit area code may be phased out. Our friends over at the Detroit News report that pending a revised estimate next week, the North American Numbering Plan Administration will stop handing out 313 telephone prefixes on new phone numbers. Detroiters with existing cell phone lines would be able to keep their current area codes, while those with land lines would change. via Detroit News: The venerable 313 will ultimately become overtaxed. Even as Detroit’s population has fallen, cellphone usage has accelerated like one of those smoldering SRT Vipers that Dodge has been bolting together at Conner Avenue Assembly — which is, of course, comfortably within the confines of 313. … When the first five dozen area codes were assigned nearly 70 years ago, says NANPA’s Tom Foley, “that was expected basically to last forever.” Instead, somebody invented fax machines, and then somebody else came up with cellphones, and lots of somebody elses decided to give them to 10-year-olds, and meantime the population grew to 300 million. Now every telephone carrier is required to submit twice-yearly forecasts of its needs in each area code, factoring in […]

    The post Detroit area code 313 may be phased out appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Final members selected for Red Wings arena Neighborhood Advisory Council

    Unfortunately, we were unable to attend last night’s Neighborhood Advisory Council, which, in case you were unaware, is a 16-member board established to weigh in on the new Red Wings arena near downtown. About three dozen residents and property owners cast ballots by the 8 p.m. deadline on Wednesday inside the Block at Cass Park, The Detroit News reports. It’s the culmination of a handful of community meetings which began weeks ago. Councilwoman Raquel Castaneda Lopez facilitated the meetings, but emphasized at previous meetings that it’s up to the community to conduct business. According to the News, the 12 candidates selected include: Michael Boettcher, Richard Etue, Jason Gapa, Francis Grunow, Steve Guether, Paul Hughes, Ray Litt, Warner Doyle McBryde, Karen McLeod, Delphia Simmons, Melissa Thomas and Anthony Zander. Joel Landy, a land owner in the area, lost his bid. The City Council appointed four candidates last month. As we reported in this week’s issue, the Neighborhood Advisory Committee was negotiated after Olympia Development of Michigan, Detroit Red Wing’s owner Mike Ilitch’s real estate arm, balked on a proposed community benefits agreement.  The committee is charged with the task of offering input on the arena’s design, parking security and more.

    The post Final members selected for Red Wings arena Neighborhood Advisory Council appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • James McMurtry and The Bottle Rockets coming to the Magic Bag

    The Magic Bag in Ferndale will host James McMurtry and The Bottle Rockets on Thursday, May 28, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20. A press release reads, “James McMurtry recently signed with the bourgeoning Los Angeles record label Complicated Game. The legendary songwriter will enter the studio later this month to start working on his first album in six years. “I’ve got a new batch of songs, organic and with no added sulfites, aged in oak for several years,” he says. “Francois Moret at Complicated Game seems to like these songs and (producer) C.C. Adcock thinks he can turn them into a record. Good times fixing to roll.” Label head Moret agrees. “In March 2013, when C.C. Adcock told me we were going to see James McMurtry at the Continental Club in Austin, I expected to see a good show,” he says, “but what I saw left me mesmerized! I immediately knew I wanted to sign him. As a European, it is an amazing opportunity to work with one of the most talented American singer-songwriters.” Evidence: McMurtry’s Just Us Kids (2008) and Childish Things (2005). The former earned his highest Billboard 200 chart position in nearly two decades and notched […]

    The post James McMurtry and The Bottle Rockets coming to the Magic Bag appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: Dead Kennedys to have a holiday in Detroit

    The Dead Kennedys, still with local boy Klaus Flouride in the ranks, will play St. Andrew’s Hall on Tuesday, June 24. Alongside Flouride and fellow original members East Bay Ray and DH Peligro, the current lineup includes singer Ron “Skip” Greer, taking the place of Jello Biafra. Downtown Brown will open that show, which starts at 7 p.m., with tickets priced $20-$25. Give Klaus a hero’s hometown welcome. Just over a week before that, strangely enough, Jello Biafra & the Guantanamo School of Medicine will play at the Magic Stick. It’s a weird coincidence, but one that DK fans should be happy to embrace. That show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets are $17-$19. Local hardcore vets Negative Approach play before Jello, with the Crashdollz opening the show. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: Dead Kennedys to have a holiday in Detroit appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Planet Ant presents A Steady Rain

    The Planet Ant Theatre in Hamtramck will present a police drama called A Steady Rain May 2 through 24. Planet Ant veterans Ryan Carlson and York Griffith will star in the play, written by House of Cards and Mad Men co-writer Keith Huff. Tickets ($10-$20) are on sale now at PlanetAnt.com. According to the press release, “A Steady Rain by Keith Huff focuses on Joey and Denny, best friends since kindergarten and partners on the police force whose loyalty to each other is tested by domestic affairs, violence and the rough streets of Chicago. Joey helps Denny with his family and Denny helps Joey stay off the bottle. But when a routine disturbance call takes a turn for the worse their loyalty is put to the ultimate test.First produced at Chicago Dramatists, A Steady Rain appeared on Broadway featuring Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig. The Planet Ant production of A Steady Rain is directed by York Griffith featuring Ryan Carlson and Andy Huff. This marks the return of two of Planet Ant’s founding members. Carlson and Griffith. Griffith has served as the theatre’s Artistic Director where he directed the critically-acclaimed productions The Adding Machine and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? […]

    The post Planet Ant presents A Steady Rain appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

Calendar

Calendar

Search thousands of events in our database.

Restaurants

Search hundreds of restaurants in our database.

Nightlife

Search hundreds of clubs in our database.

MT on Twitter
MT on Facebook

Print Email

Cover Story

Feel the Music

Just because they’re deaf doesn’t mean their world is without music

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

Photo: N/A, License: N/A


It’s Saturday night. Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” blares through the speakers while the karaoke performers dance along to the beat. The place is packed with onlookers who are dancing along, others gossip over coffee, play cards or shoot pool.

At first glance, this seems like a typical night out for many people. And, for the members of the deaf community, that’s exactly what it is.

At the coffee bar, a man orders a drink by bringing his hand toward his chin and extending it forward with a “W” shape, the sign for “water.” The karaoke performers are signing along to the music, and their dance steps don’t miss a beat. Occasionally, a hearing performer sings along. But the main form of communication is American Sign Language (ASL), a visual language communicated through handshapes and movements, facial expression and body placement. Though no one is talking, the room is anything but quiet.

Joyce LaHaye, a Baker College tutor, runs the monthly event at the District, a venue in Orion Township. She named it Deaf Night.

It is a place where music helps shatter stereotypes.

“I know it’s a challenge for people in the hearing world, when they have this vision of what it is to be deaf, and how music relates to them,” says LaHaye, who communicates through ASL. “If they are really confused on how or why deaf people like music, I would tell them that it’s through vibration. Deaf people may be close to the speaker, or watch other people and kind of copy the music. Maybe they will sign the lyrics to the song. We can follow whatever rhythms or movements [hearing people] have.”

LaHaye, who has been deaf since she was 3 years old, has always loved music. Her tastes run from country to rap music.

“I grew up hearing music. I’ve gone to concerts,” LaHaye says. “My mother would always explain the count and the rhythm. At any wedding we went to, my mother would dance arm-in-arm with me to ‘My Wild Irish Rose,’ her favorite song. She would always interpret that song for me. My mom passed away a few years ago, so that’s a special song.”

There is a common misconception that deaf people live in a world of silence. Hearing loss can run anywhere from profoundly deaf to hard of hearing. Certain sounds that aren’t distinguishable to some people may be clearer to others.

LaHaye has a little hearing. She listens to a lot of music at home, where she uses her computer and turns the volume on high.

“I have headphones and a small set of speakers,” LaHaye says. “I’ll find a song that has captions. I’ll read along with the song and I think, ‘Wow, that relates to me.’ Sometimes, I get teary-eyed, when I feel that release.”

“Music is a way to be peaceful, to calm my stress,” LaHaye adds. “To relax my mind and my spirit. It’s a way I can give worship. When I feel depressed, I need to make that adjustment with music. It helps me.”

When asked if LaHaye has experienced prejudices regarding music, she hesitates.

“Some people will say, ‘Why do you like music? What does music have to do with you? You’re deaf.’ And I’ll say, ‘Accept it, that’s who I am.’”

Benjamin Houston, a 19-year-old graduate student from Lahser High who is hard of hearing, performs karaoke in ASL to “Where is the Love” by Justin Timberlake and The Black Eyed Peas. While performing, his signs may be held longer, signed quicker, or made bigger to stress certain parts of the songs. Like any language, music can be expressed through sign language too. When he finishes, the people in the crowd put their hands in the air and wave them back and forth to show their approval.

“Growing up, my mom would always listen to music and dance,” says Houston, whose mother is hearing. “I would always ask, ‘What’s the song? What is it saying?’ She would explain the concept to me. So I guess you can say I was born interested.”

Houston has attended Deaf Night since he was 16. It’s common to see him walking around with his headphones on and his MP3 player attached to his hip, blaring Beyoncé or Nicki Minaj.

“I am usually listening to female artists,” Houston says. “I can understand them better. They have a soft but strong voice, while men have rough and loud voices.”

He’s a regular karaoke performer at the District, and says that, like many other deaf people who enjoy music, he uploads videos on YouTube signing along to popular music.

“I love to sign music,” Houston says. “My community needs to be happy as well, not just the hearing people. To those who aren’t aware of our appreciation of music … they should realize that music was made for everyone to enjoy.”

Although Houston is hard of hearing, he labels himself a deaf person. He has grown up around deaf family members, and has been surrounded by the deaf community.

“Deafness is who I am, but it doesn’t define who I am,” Houston says. “In the deaf community, deafness means that we are a minority of the large community … the hearing community.”

Detroit is home to many legendary musicians. That includes Sean Forbes, a name that’s famous in the deaf community and known in many hearing households.

Forbes, a deaf artist and rapper, grew up in Farmington Hills and went to Lahser High. He was surrounded by music at an early age. His father, Scott Forbes, is the guitarist of the award-winning country band the Forbes Bros.

“One of my biggest influences was Johnny ‘Bee,’ the drummer from Mitch Rider and the Detroit Wheels,” says Forbes, referring to John Bananjek. “When I was a kid he always came over my house and showed me how to play drums.”

His music career started to kick off while performing at Rochester Institute of Technology, a college that provides a deaf program.

“There were so many deaf and hard of hearing people there that loved music,” Forbes says. “Music was everywhere. People were blasting it in their cars, in their dorms, in their apartments. You’d go to parties and deaf people would be blasting music.”

We welcome user discussion on our site, under the following guidelines:

To comment you must first create a profile and sign-in with a verified DISQUS account or social network ID. Sign up here.

Comments in violation of the rules will be denied, and repeat violators will be banned. Please help police the community by flagging offensive comments for our moderators to review. By posting a comment, you agree to our full terms and conditions. Click here to read terms and conditions.
comments powered by Disqus