Live performance in Detroit stands for the spirit and sound of the city. Our resilience runs strong through the rhythms, flavors, and voices in our work.

We asked local artists to describe their home. These sounds, images, recipes, and letters are Detroit.

Sound of florescent bouquets of vomit peddling petals of 67.

by Sterling Toles: personified spirit not spiritual person

Festival project: From experimental to traditional blues, Detroit artists share their protest music. Project details coming soon.

Detroit facilitator Leyya Mona Tawil and artist Ben Hall discuss the rich landscape of the Detroit art scene and how generational collaboration is the future.

Dear Detroit,

Our sugar-sharp city stands on acres of salt mines. Under our ground, you will find nature’s fresh deposits. Underground, we found our way here from all over.

Read the full letter

by Imani Mixon: best dresser, dream catcher, storyteller

Dear Detroit,

Our sugar-sharp city stands on acres of salt mines. Under our ground, you will find nature’s fresh deposits. Underground, we found our way here from all over. Came up for air, from salt, to build a home. Each of us, a vibrating crystal. All of us, our own healing properties. Our sugar-sharp city stands on acres of salt mines.

I love Detroit because I can’t help it, not because I’m trying to convince others to do the same. I love the city simply because it is absolutely mine and I am totally hers. I miss Detroit most deeply when I am coming back from somewhere. On a bus up to Idlewild, a train back from Chicago, a trip across the Atlantic. Put me anywhere in the world and I will find my people. I know my people anywhere. I know my people when I hear them. Detroiters were born in the groove, so our tongues are two jump ropes slapping Double Dutch on the sidewalk.  I’ve seen you trip trying to follow our joyful direction. I’ve seen you try to Big Brother our mother tongue, that rhythm only we have.  Our sweet timing is more impeccable than exploitation. I urge us to stop explaining, it’s sovereign time. Time to take back our land, space, and labor. Who are we after the grind? What if we are the pause — the record scratch, the brake, the living and not the lesson? I love Detroit because we know exactly who we are.

We have always been a contradiction. A big city with small-town familiarity. A whole lotta Deep South Up North. That place on everybody’s lips, but supposedly nobody’s mind. A culture that moves the culture when no one is watching. A signature style without a cosign. Our ancient analog turned Afrofuture electric. A hard place to stay and make it. A soft place to land. Fast times on slow, hot blocks.

We exist beyond anything they’ve tried to extinguish. We are fresh-pressed and faded, fur down to our toes. We are all natural, knee-deep in ancestral oils. We are custom-tailored aunties and three-piece suited OGs with the shoes to match. Hustle don’t feel right on feet that’s not from here. I love Detroit because I know where home is.

Home is where my name is “You know, Lisa’s baby” before anything else. Home is in the eyes of everyone I pass by. Home are those three airborne seconds on the Giant Slide when you think you’ll fall but you land instead. Home is not denying the sugar of our city just because it’s sweetness is not neat. Home is travelling the world and hearing everyone sing the lyrics to your city. Home is knowing there ain’t never been no damn South Detroit. I love Detroit for being more than home.  We are one place, moving east to west. We are in Michigan, but not from it. We are a better, Blacker example for cool. Anything you can do, we done already.


by Ben Hall: gospel music and soup making