Detroiters love their music. Woe betide thee if you’re standing in the way of them and it—like if you’re presenting awards for instance.

The 25th Annual Detroit Music Awards began with the Detroit All-Stars (fronted by vocalists Athena Johnson, Tosha Owens, Cherri Black, Kendrick Hardaway, and Angela Davis), who blitzed the giddy Fillmore crowd with a whistlestop walkthrough of Detroit’s invaluable contributions to popular music, from early Motown through to Eminem and Kid Rock—about thirty seconds for each ‘stop’, in a concept similar to What’s Opera Doc? condensing Wagner’s Ring and Tannhaüser operas into seven minutes. The pace was a bit loony, but the execution was skintight.

When it came time for Angela Davis to summon her inner Aretha Franklin, as the horn section swung into the familiar opening bars of “Respect” and the audience erupted, my shutter finger hesitated in anticipation. I found that I was involuntarily waiting for Ms. Davis to ‘show up’ for it; how many times have we heard artists try to cover that song exactly like Franklin, only to leave us deflated when that bolide of soul doesn’t just absolutely cream us?

Well, that’s always an unfair comparison, but my seismometer says Angela came pretty damn close—infinitesimally damn close, actually—and that’s praise in my book.

As soon as the All-Stars left the stage, and the awards started rolling out, the decibels of chat rose to such a level that I could hardly hear the speech of the presenters, or the tributes and honors, or many of the actual winners. No standup comedian worth their shins would have put up with a teaspoon of malcontent, let alone this bucketful of (what I perceived to be) soul-crushing indifference. It was embarrassing to behold at times.

But overall, it was a casual occasion. Apart from the crush of media, professional and amateur, the audience seemed to consist mainly of friends and family of the nominees, as well as the artists themselves. Which explains why they reacted to the non-musical bits as if they were crumpled up on the couch at home watching television. (It’s an awards show after all…)

And with that crude segue, let’s go to the actual awards…

Listing courtesy of www.detroitmusicawards.com


Outstanding Americana Artist/Group
Rio and the Rockabilly Revival
Outstanding Americana Instrumentalist
Dave Feeny --pedal steel/guitar (American Mars and David Bierman Overdrive)
Outstanding Americana Recording
Rio and the Rockabilly Revival - "Testify"
Outstanding Americana Songwriter
Mary McGuire
Outstanding Americana Vocalist
Gia Warner
Outstanding Blues Artist/Group
Laith Al-Saadi
Outstanding Blues Instrumentalist
Laith Al-Saadi - guitar
Outstanding Blues Recording
"Breaking and Entering" Eliza Neals
Outstanding Blues Songwriter
Laura Rain - George Friend
Outstanding Blues Vocalist
Tosha Owens
Outstanding Classical Composer
Michele Ramo
Outstanding Classical Instrumentalist
John Rutherford - trombone
Outstanding Classical Recording
Bugs Beddow-Trombone Bach Unaccompanied Cello Suite Sonata No. 1 – Prelude
Outstanding Classical Small Ensemble
Il Segreto String Quartet
Outstanding Classical Vocalist
Jill Fitzgerald
Outstanding Community Orchestra
Dearborn Symphony
Outstanding Country Artist/Group
Jennifer Westwood
Outstanding Country Instrumentalist
Joey Spina - Guitar
Outstanding Country Recording
The Orbitsuns-X's Over My Eyes
Outstanding Country Songwriter
Julianne Ankley
Outstanding Country Vocalist
Jennifer Westwood
Outstanding Electronic/Dance Artist/Group
Detroit Techno Militia
Outstanding Electronic/Dance DJ
DJ Linda  Lexy
Outstanding Electronic/Dance Recording
DJ Psycho - Wires
Outstanding Electronic/Dance Writer/Producer
Eprom Colony featuring Meridith Lorde - Cole
Outstanding Anthology/Compilation/Reissue
White Stripes, "Live at the Gold Dollar Vol. III " (Third Man Records)
Outstanding Live Performance
The Infatuations
Outstanding Live Sound Technician
Tom Lubinski
Outstanding Local Record Label
Detroit Music Factory
Outstanding National Major Label / Distribution Album
Kid Rock, "First Kiss" (Warner Bros.)
Outstanding National Single
Jack White, "That Black Bat Licorice"
Outstanding National Small / Independent Label Distribution Album Marshall Crenshaw, "Grab The Next Train" EP ( Red River Entertainment)
Outstanding Record Producer
Tino Gross
Outstanding Recording Studio
Pearl Sound Studios
Outstanding Video / Independent Budget (Under $10,000)
Howling Diablos - "Funk Hand" by Tony D' Annunzio
Outstanding Video / Major Budget (Over $10,000)
Bob Seger, " California Stars"
Outstanding Tribute Band
50 Amp Fuse
Outstanding Gospel/Christian Act
Sweet Crystal
Outstanding Gospel/Christian Musician
David Winans II – bass
Outstanding Gospel/Christian Recording
"I was the One" - Ortheia Barnes
Outstanding Gospel/Christian Songwriter - TIE
Marq Andrew Speck (Sweet Crystal) & Ortheia Barnes - Paul Miles
Outstanding Gospel/Christian Vocalist
Ortheia Barnes
Outstanding Jazz Composer
Paul Keller
Outstanding Jazz Instrumentalist
Ralphe Armstrong - bass
Outstanding Jazz Recording
Kris  Kurzawa - Sly
Outstanding Jazz Vocalist
Sky Covington
Outstanding Modern Jazz Artist/Group
Kris  Kurzawa
Outstanding Traditional Jazz Artist/Group
Planet D Nonet
Outstanding Rock Instrumentalist
Erik Gustafson - Guitar - Howling Diablos
Outstanding Rock Recording
Flint Eastwood “Small Victories”
Outstanding Rock Songwriter
Carolyn Striho
Outstanding Rock Vocalist
Barbara Payton
Outstanding Heavy Rock (Metal, Industrial, Goth, Thrash, et al.) Artist/Group
Critical Bill
Outstanding Alt/Punk/Indie Artist/Group
The Ruiners
Outstanding Rock/Pop Artist/Group
The Infatuations
Outstanding Urban Artist/Group
The Infatuations
Outstanding Urban Musician
Pete Peltier - Guitar
Outstanding Urban Songwriter
The Infatuations
Outstanding Urban Vocalist
Thornetta Davis
Outstanding Urban Recording
Mainstreet Soul - "In Detroit "
Outstanding World Artist/Group
Michele Ramo World Jazz Orchestra
Outstanding World Instrumentalist
Muruga Booker (Drums & Percussion)
Outstanding World Recording
The Lynn LaPlante Seven-Motor City Mambo
Outstanding World Songwriter
Muruga Booker
Outstanding World Vocalist
Maggie McCabe             
Outstanding Rap Recording
Detroit-vs-Everybody - Seven the General ft. Big Herk, Cheddaboy Malik
Outstanding Rap MC
Mark Milez A.K.A. Profit
Outstanding Rap Composer
Outstanding Rap Producer/DJ
TMoney Green

Distinguished Awards of Achievement were given to ad jingle pioneer Dan Yessian, and the family of founding publicist for Motown Records, Al Abrams, who died in late 2015. Kid Rock, who was to have been presented with a Distinguished Achievement Award, indefinitely postponed his appearance at the show, following the death of Mike Sacha, his personal assistant. Tributes were paid to the lives and works of two recently departed Metro Area greats, trumpeter Marcus Belgrave, and founding Eagles guitarist Glenn Frey. The Detroit All-Stars even closed their set with an abrupt Twin Cities detour to give Prince his due, and had every glowstick swaying by the end of their performance of Purple Rain.


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