Reaching for the Stars - Soul Music Gets Lifted in Detroit

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    by Fiona Bloom (

    by Fiona Bloom (

    It was a big historic weekend for Independent Soul and Soul Music overall in Detroit- Nov 15-18th.

    Motown's Berry Gordy brought the original history of Soul in Detroit and now-- Detroit is currently having a revival and we witnessed this ten fold over this extremely memorable time.   New Soul in the spotlight and a new MOTOWN...
    Full Circle and still very much MOTOWN!

    It was an empowering and inspirational 4 days for me.   Seeing old friends, discovering new talent and seeing some of my favorite artists and forging new relationships, meeting new people.  Kicking it, bonding, building and coming together to figure out how to further improve the Soul Scene and make it a commercially viable Genre.

    There is so much talent on the scene and we as the industry/tastemakers and movers and shakers need to figure out how to knock down those walls and appeal to a wider audience and break into the fans who are buying up all the Hip Hop/R&B.  We need to tap in to that younger audience also and bridge the gap so we have the best of both worlds!

    There were workshops and panel discussions and meetings of the minds were we addressed all these issues.

    Soul Music in this climate has serious legs, potential and can definitely be embraced worldwide by millions of people.

    I experienced some amazing moments at The Soul Tracks Reader's Choice Awards. First off---  kudos go to Phil Perry.  He gave a dynamic performance and he accepted his first ever award in this business after over 40 years.  Long time coming. 
    It's beautiful to see younger generations buying his music and following his career.

    Other great performances were:

    Eric Roberson
    Conya Doss
    Kloud 9
    Maya Azucena
    Gordon Chambers

    We were blessed with a surprise from the super talented genius if you ask me--- Rahsaan Patterson-  He accepted the award for Album of The Year. He was practically speechless. He had a Prince moment.

    There were several presenters and hosts who gave out the awards and introduced the performances. Everyone from ONUTSS Pam and Detrell to Vonnie of Honeysoul to Terry Bello of The International Soul Summit who coined the phrase of the weekend  "Soul Music is a business-- we need to step it up- and being broke ain't sexy!," to the head of Detroit's Economic Growth Corporation to Linda Clifford, a veteran soul singer herself to myself- Yours Truly-  along with Nina of Fusicology....for
    'Song of the Year'- which incidentally went out to one of my artists Anthony David for  'Words' featuring India Arie.
    Very nostalgic and beautiful to be able to give an award to one of my artists- a project I worked- wild actually.

    This Awards Show was REAL-  it went smoothly and like any awards show- was about 3 hours or so.   I have to give serious major props to the Host of the show--- Ms. Jodine Dorce of Jodine's Corner. She brought flair, style and was entertaining as any comic I know. But the best thing about Jodine was her natural grace and charm and ability. She's a dear sweet person and it came across distinctly that whole evening. Those who didn't know Jodine before are HUGE Fans now! Very glad to be her friend and colleague.

    The Awards were the brainchild of Chris Rizik.  His persistence, determination, dedication and dream came true that night and in 2008 watch out Soul Train as SOULTRACKS is making Power Moves!

    Glad I was part of History. The other 2 producers were Jodine and Mo of Mosaic Thump who might as well be The Mayor of Detroit as he knows everyone.   It was great to finally put a face to the voice.   Big ups  MO...

    Artists I Met--

    Conya Doss
    Marcell and The Truth
    Kloud 9
    Monica Blair
    Frank McComb
    Amp Fiddler and others who rocked and or in attendance
    Carmen Rogers
    Russell Taylor
    Melissa Young
    Abbey Dobson
    Angela Johnson
    Kendra Ross
    Anthony David
    Roy Ayers

    New artists I was blown away by and thanks to Tim Maynor (Dwele's manager) who made me aware--- hands down--- Monica Blaire. She's young, sultry, hard-core, vicious energy, mega-talented, and serious stage presence.  Plus- her pipes are bombastic.   Can't wait to start working with her.  She is SICK. I love the West Indian vibe she brings.  She's rooted in Hip Hop-  Say Word! Plus-  Guilty Simpson is on her album and those of you who know me- I'm a serious Guilty fan--- What up Stones Throw.

    There was an after party Jam Session at The Music Hall later that night. Everyone came through including the legendary Keith Washington who grabbed the mic. The jam was hosted by Angela Johnson -  artists who jumped on included: Russell Taylor, Marcell and The Truth, Kloud 9,  Carmen Rogers, Monica Blaire, Eric Roberson, Frank McComb, Yazarah, Maya Azucena, Gordon Chambers and others.

    Highlights from the weekend were seeing and meeting Bryant Johnson of BETJ for the first time and my I GOT SOUL sisters-- the whole crew in town minus Asya and Valerie but they were there in spirit.

    Myron Ruffin and Tonya Byrd who I'd been communicating with  for 7 years. Sean Sax from Soul on Ice,  Myles the M.D who tore it up with the amazing musicianship he led at The Awards.....Shouts to the Head Usher:-)

    Mike from Omni Source Events, Terry Bello, Toyah Hankins, Terrance, Tim Maynor,  Darren Monroe of 4 Da Soul, Vonnie and others.

    So this weekend was part of The Urban Organic Festival's 6th year Anniversary. Soultracks piggybacked off that.   Drake Phifer founded Urban Organic-  this brother has great ears, tremendous dedication and spirit for keeping Soul Music Alive and Well in Detroit and bringing Motown BACK. It's original flavor and essence. It's a big goal but Drake is doing it.  He programmed a full day of films, workshops, and a heavy hitter panel called  "Making it as an independent artist-- The state of things."
    It was an honor to be speaking amidst my peers. Toya Hankins, Chris Campbell, Kevin Harewood, Terry Bello, Tonya Byrd,
    Frances Jaye, Jocelyn of Fusicology and others. Tons of insight and knowledge was dropped that day and the sentence  'Ain't
    nothing "Neo" about Soul' sung..

    That night was historic-- an unforgettable affair as my artist Melissa Young tore down the house with her fabulous performance. This was the concert hosted by Amp Fiddler and Roy Ayers headlined.

    One word to describe the night-  MAGIC. The place was packed wall to wall with dignitaries, mid west movers, scenesters in Detroit, key influencers, tastemakers and fashionistas alike.  I remember it so vividly.

    Can't wait to come back and make MAGIC again!!!


    Jodine's amazing HOSTING skills!

    After Eric Roberson's performance of 'Pretty Girl' and Jodine coming back on
    stage on the mic all flustered-- heated/needed cooling down and tongue tied.
    Also said ' He's talking about 'ME'- and I hope his girlfriend's ok with

    Terry Bello's quote of the weekend  ' Being Broke Ain't Sexy'.

    Meeting Bryant Johnson- BETJ

    Rahsaan Patterson's unexpected surprise performance.  Utter Genius and his
    PRINCE moment when he accepted the Award for Album of The Year.  Speechless!

    My elevator moment with Rahsaan at 3:00am in hotel after creeping in from
    too much partying.

    Darren from 4Da Soul's excitement in meeting me finally

    My presenting with Nina who I'd never met before but we were awesome!  Plus
    to be able to actually give an award to an artist I work with...What an
    honor--- Anthony David for  ' Song of The Year'.

    Maya Azucena crashing in my hotel for last night.  Love that girl!

    The I GOT SOUL Power Meeting of the minds.

    Retail run with Kevin Harewood, George Little John, Melissa Young and Abby

    Monica Blaire's sick impromptu performance at After Party at Jazz Café

    Keith Washington jumping on stage and me thinking he was Alexander O'Neale
    and asking him that.

    Mo from Mosaic Thump picking me up from airport-- nice to finally meet him.
    Oh and Russell Taylor along for the ride too.

    Pam from ONUTTS giving Roy Ayers an ONUTTS T-shirt after his performance

    Roy Ayers saying he remembered me from Joe's Pub last year and said I still
    look good!

    Going to PEARL's finally

    Texting Anthony David right after we announced he won!

    Meeting Tonya Byrd for the first time on the panel after 7 years of emails
    and phone calls.

    Madison Leigh shouting me out from V98- Detroit Urban Station

    Having a brainstorming session with Monica Blaire in the ladies room at
    Lola's - Sunday brunch

    Meeting Myron Ruffin finally

    Hanging with Tim Maynor- Dwele's manager

    Meeting Amp Fiddler

    Hanging with one of my fave boys in Detroit- Mr. Drake Phifer

    Acting crazy with Frank McComb

    Talking to Russell and George(Purpose) about a collaboration with Angela
    Johnson and Melissa Young

    Meeting Vonnie from

    Finally- being a part of HISTORY-- thanks to Chris Rizik /Soultracks and
    Urban Organic Festival...