By Nicole LaChance
The who’s who of the Detroit music scene came out Friday night to celebrate the nineteenth annual Detroit Music Awards. The ceremony, hosted by the Detroit Music Foundation, is meant to honor local musicians from every genre from funk to gospel to country for their hard work and dedication to their craft. While the intentions of the DMAs are admirable, the execution could use some tweaking.
The event took place in the beautiful Fillmore Theater on Woodward Ave. Inside the theater, the main floor was filled with tables for VIP guests which included gifts from various local and national retailers. The general public and some musicians were put in the mezzanine, which allowed for a good view of the show.
The ceremony started almost 30 minutes late, but it was not really a problem to the crowd that remained talking when openers Ro Spit and Monica Blaire came on the stage. Ro Spit first did a solo rap song and then brought out Blaire for a Detroit-themed remake of Jay-Z and Alicia Keys’ song “Empire State of Mind.” Despite the bold attempt, the pair failed to move the crowd: the guy two seats down was falling asleep. This was pretty much the theme for the rest of the night.
Host Wolfman Mac’s attempts at humor didn’t have many people laughing. He made jokes and puns about local news, music and other subjects that lacked wit. Despite getting a lukewarm response, the Wolfman didn’t stop trying as he introduced performers and presenters. The presenters were certainly diverse, ranging from local musicians to retired football players.
Two things about the ceremony were really bothersome. One was that, throughout the whole thing, people kept talking. This made it very hard to hear some of the quieter presenters. Another was that the presenters were unaware of whether the winners were in the audience. After each award was given, the presenters looked around confused while trying to figure out if someone was coming up to claim the award. A simple check-in system would have solved this problem.
On a more positive note, one of the highlights of the night was the chance to see some local musicians perform. One standout was country singer Julianne. While I’m not one for country, I enjoyed her performance. She sounded like Reba McEntire and had two backing vocalists reminiscent of The Pips. Another standout was funk percussionist Muruga Booker, who performed with The Rainforest Band.
Even though the DMAs were no Grammys, the Detroit/Michigan pride in the event was awesome. The presenters, host and musicians were filled with love for the Great Lakes State. The enthusiasm for the good things going on in Michigan was really refreshing among all the negative news both the city and the state get. With some polishing, the DMAs could be on their way to being a must-see event.