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  • City Slang: DJ AvA, Chuck Flask & Keith Kemp preview Movement at Urban Bean Co.

    It’s a really, very cool idea. Paxahau, the good people behind the Movement Electronic Music Festival, are hosting a series of warm-up events, or previews, to the big festival which takes place Memorial Day weekend. On Thursday evening, Movement moved into the Urban Coffee Bean on Grand River in Detroit. While Dj AvA and Chuck Flask & Keith Kemp ably worked the decks, the regular coffee shop goings on continued behind them. It made for an interesting and amusing webcast experience – one guy was taking a nap on camera, while others supped coffee and tappd their feet. It should come as no surprise – the Urban Coffee Co. people have always been big supporters of electronic music. The place includes a DJ stand, and co-owner Josh Greenwood encourages customers to bring their own vinyl and spin on the open turntables. Not on Thursday night though. This being a coffee shop, and it not being particularly late at night, the music remained pretty chill throughout. DJ AvA (real name Heather McGuigan) includes Beth Orton, Madonna, the B-52’s, Daftpunk and David Byrne among her list of influences, so you know that she’s capable of both whipping up a storm and also […]

    The post City Slang: DJ AvA, Chuck Flask & Keith Kemp preview Movement at Urban Bean Co. appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Here is why landlords could do well in Wayne County

    CNN has a message to all prospective landlords: Head to Wayne County! Occupancy and rental rates are increasing, the report says, creating an opportunity for serious returns on investments. In fact, after comparing the median sales price of homes to average monthly rents in nearly 1,600 counties, RealtyTrac found that Detroit’s Wayne County offers landlords the best return on their investment in the nation. Investors who buy homes in the metro area can expect a 30% gross annual return from rents. That’s triple the national average of 10%. RealtyTrac, an online real estate information company, says the county offers investors low prices for larger homes — with a median price of $45,000. “We’ve got some steals here,” said Rachel Saltmarshall, a real estate agent and immediate past president of the Detroit Association of Realtors, told CNN. “There’s a six-bedroom, 6,000 square-foot home in a historic district selling for $65,000.” For more, read the entire report here.

    The post Here is why landlords could do well in Wayne County appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • The Record Store Day Guide for metro Detroit

    This Saturday, audiophiles across the world will venture out to their favorite independent record stores in search of limited releases that quickly become collectors items. The third Saturday of April marks the fairly new international holiday Record Store Day. There are certainly dos and don’ts to know for RSD — like where to shop, and how to shop. That’s right, there is an etiquette to shopping on Record Store Day and violating that code makes you look like a real asshole. In my experience of celebrating Record Store Day, I’ve seen stores use a few different tactics as far as stocking the special releases. Some establishments will set up a table, somewhere in the store, where a few shoppers at a time can flip through records in a calm and contained manner. Other places will have a similar setup, with all the releases at a table, but shoppers ask the store employees for the releases they want. It’s like a record nerd stock exchange. This process gets loud, slightly confusing and incredibly annoying — this is where elbows start getting thrown. Then, there are places that put the releases on the shelves, usually categorized by size — twelve inches with the twelve inches, seven inches with the seven inches and […]

    The post The Record Store Day Guide for metro Detroit appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: DEMF 2014 canceled

    The Detroit Electronic Music Festival, which was supposed to be making a triumphant return this year, has been canceled. A statement on the website says that the festival will be back in 2015. Back in November, Ford Field hosted an announcement party for DEMF, where it was revealed that a new DEMF festival would take place at Campus Martius Park in Detroit over the July 4th weekend. “I’m proud to be involved in the biggest and best electronic music festival in the world,” said Juan Atkins. “The future’s here. This is techno scene.” Not the immediate future, apparently. The DEMF people claim that the M-1 rail construction is partially to blame for the cancellation/12-month-postponement. Read the full statement here. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: DEMF 2014 canceled appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Metro Times wins heavy at the SPJ Awards

    Despite a turbulent 2013 which saw Metro Times change owners, move buildings and change editors twice, we picked up eight awards at the Society of Professional Journalists Awards on Wednesday night. The big winner was Robert Nixon, design manager, who picked up a first place for “Feature Page Design (Class A)” for our Josh Malerman cover story, first for “Cover Design (Class A)” for our Halloween issue (alongside illustrator John Dunivant), and a second in that same category for our annual Lust issue. In the news categories, our esteemed former news editor and current contributing writer Curt Guyette won third in “General News Reporting” and third in “Best Consumer/Watchdog” – both Class A – for the Fairground Zero and Petcoke Series respectively. Music & Culture Editor Brett Callwood placed third for his Josh Malerman cover story in the “Best Personality Profile (Class A)” category, and former editor Bryan Gottlieb picked up a couple of Class C awards for “Editorial Writing” and “Headline Writing” (third and second, respectively). We were also pleased to learn that our investigative reporter Ryan Felton won first place and an honorable mention for work published while at the Oakland Press. The MT ship is steady now, […]

    The post Metro Times wins heavy at the SPJ Awards appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit’s grand bargain still needs Lansing’s approval

    In this week’s Metro Times we took a look at the state legislature’s role in Detroit’s ongoing bankruptcy — in particular, how it must approve a $350 million pledge for the so-called “grand bargain” to remain intact. And, with last night’s announcement of a significant deal between the city and Detroit’s pension boards and retiree groups, the ball is Lansing’s court now. The new deal, first reported by the Freep, would cut general employees monthly pension checks by 4.5 percent and eliminate their cost-of-living increases. Police and fire retirees would see no cuts to monthly checks, while their cost-of-living increases would be reduced from 2.25 percent to 1 percent. Under the original offer, police and fire retirees cuts were as high as 14 percent, with general retirees as high as 34 percent, that is, if the groups rejected the “grand bargain,” an $816 million proposal funded by foundations, the state, and the DIA to shore up pensions. The sweeter deal for pensions, though, it must be noted, entirely relies on the state legislature approving $350 million for Detroit’s bankruptcy.  And while this broke after Metro Times went to press, that was the focal point of this week’s News Hits column — so, it’s worth repeating: The […]

    The post Detroit’s grand bargain still needs Lansing’s approval appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.



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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

Getting his name out there was a challenge. Forbes was used to people telling him no.

“There is prejudice out there,” Forbes says. “People have told me my entire life that I was not going to make it in the music industry, and that only fueled the fire even more. I didn’t sit back and listen to ‘No, no you can’t, Sean, it’s not going to happen. You need to continue college and get a 9-to-5 job.’ I really had to make this happen for myself.”

Forbes’ big break came when he bumped into Joel Martin, Eminem’s publisher, at the Detroit Music Awards. They exchanged emails, and Forbes eventually found himself in Martin’s studio.

“He had a video of myself signing two Eminem songs, ‘Cleaning Out My Closet’ and ‘Lose Yourself,’ Forbes says. “I went over to the studio and Eminem was sitting there with his engineers and his producers. They loved it.”

Martin decided to hire Forbes as an intern at the studio. He helped put Forbes on the map after watching his music video “I’m Deaf,” a song Forbes verbally raps while performing in ASL. Cartoonish lyrics dance across the screen while he rhymes, another visual aspect that makes the music more entertaining for the deaf and hard of hearing. His lyrics are witty and play on his deafness: “I’d rather not hear, rather not listen, I’m the perfect imperfection, never restricted.”

“Just from that one song, I signed a record deal,” Forbes says.

Although Forbes considers himself a musician rather than a rapper, his current projects focus strictly on rap and hip-hop.

“The bass and the drums are the rhythm track of any song,” Forbes says. “With the guitar and singing you have melodies, but to me it’s all about the backbeat. Those are the true things you can feel. The guitar and the piano usually get lost in the mix with me.”

Since he got his start, Forbes has written more than 30 songs and put out six music videos. His recent video “Let’s Mambo” features award-winning actress Marlee Matlin, the first deaf actress to win an Oscar for best actress in a leading role.

“I have met everybody from Ted Nugent to Alice Cooper to Bob Seger. All the important people that have come out of Detroit,” Forbes says. “I met Stevie Wonder at the House of Blues in Los Angeles. Being a deaf musician and meeting a blind musician, it was crazy. Growing up, a lot of the Funk Brothers who were on backing tracks for Motown used to come over to my house. I was talking about all these people with Stevie and I could tell by the look on his face that he was blown away by everything that I knew.”

Forbes continues to make new music and perform live for packed crowds across the country.  He was a featured cast member of  Motor City Rising, a documentary series focusing on the struggles and accomplishments of a group of Detroit artists and creatives, which ran June 1-15 on Ovation TV.

“Music is not something that is heard. It is something that is felt,”

says Forbes. “Music is for everybody.”

A small studio on Nine Mile Road in Ferndale houses the Deaf Professional Arts Network (D-PAN), a nonprofit organization co-founded by Sean Forbes and Joel Martin. D-PAN’s goal is to make music more accessible for the deaf and hard of hearing. Its website,, provides music videos by deaf performers from around the nation.

Music videos are produced in the studio via a green screen. Performers sign along to popular songs, such as John Mayer’s “Waiting on the World to Change,” and most recently, a video featuring children who are deaf and hard of hearing signing to the White Stripes’ “We Are Going to Be Friends.” There are also several artists that create their own music.

One of artists featured on D-PAN is Nyke Prince, a drummer and songwriter from Los Angeles. She works as a successful model, and is the assistant to celebrity stylist Ken Paves.

Prince was born hearing and became deaf as a kid. She has been a dancer since the age of 3, mainly ballet and hip hop.

“When I would take a dance class, they would actually count out the rhythms,” says Prince, who communicates through a signed video service. “I have a hearing aid, and that’s helped a lot. I’ve always been motivated. I’ve taken speech classes, and they explained the music.”

Later, Prince decided she wanted to learn an instrument. She became interested in the drums.

“I play rock ’n’ roll, because it’s loud,” Prince says. “I try to play drums without the hearing aid. I can feel the vibrations in my chest and I put my feet on the ground and feel the vibrations. There are times I will have to use my hearing aids, like if I’m doing a performance at a live venue. I always look around to make sure that everything works out, and that it’s in sync. It’s not easy.”

Prince eventually met and dated Gil Sharone, the drummer from Stolen Babies. Sharone began to teach Prince how to better hone her skills.

“We did a one-on-one session for about three years,” Prince says. “He was willing to write notes and speak very clearly. That’s why I chose him as a teacher. He was willing to take the time compared to other tutors. Actually, he told me that there are a lot of deaf players that play music that we are not even aware of. Famous pianists, drummers, and so forth … they all have hearing loss.”

Even though Sharone is hearing, Prince insists there were no communication barriers.

“I’ve always made sure hearing people I date know some sign,” Prince says. “I typically date hearing people because the deaf community is very small — you’re always dating someone’s ex.”

Prince has a cochlear implant, a device she says is controversial in the deaf community. This is because the listening device requires major surgery, which can cause complications such as dizziness or tinnitus, to more extreme side effects such as meningitis or seizures. Also, some members of the deaf community believe that the device takes away the identity of a deaf person from deaf culture.

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