In 2012, Michael Bolton came to Detroit while recording his album, "A Tribute to Hitsville."
As part of the project, he wanted to film a piece about Motown. However, he quickly realized that Detroit has, as he puts it, “so much more greatness to offer than just Motown.” His project changed and he decided to use his platform as an internationally known artist to tell the story of Detroit.
At that time, news outlets from all over the world were swarming the city, talking about the devastation and decay. TV networks often used the blighted train station as a backdrop for reports on a city gone bad.
Bolton saw a different tale. He related to the “grit, determination and hard work” of Detroiters and he heard the stories of people doing positive things to improve the city.
So as co-executive producer and director, he embarked on the journey, a film titled "Gotta Keep Dreamin: Detroit’s 21st Century Renaissance."
Trips to Detroit over the last three years have led him to talk to some of the players in town like Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert, and Bill Ford, Jr. He also looked elsewhere to the young people in Detroit like Veronika Scott (Empowerment Plan), Jason Hall (Slow Roll) and Melissa Price (dPop).
The remarkable thing that he found was that every time he came back, there was something new, exciting and positive to talk about.
On Friday night, at the Fox Theatre, Bolton hosted a private screening of various clips from the film, which were well received by the audience.
The film is almost finished.
The story of the comeback is not. But on Friday, you could see some of the very promising aspects of it.
I looked at people like Veronika Scott who, as a junior in college, took one sewing machine and started sewing coats that turn into sleeping bags for homeless people.
Today, her company, The Empowerment Plan, has hired dozens of formerly homeless people and sewn over 10,000 coats that have been distributed worldwide. And there was Jason Hall, who as he sat next to Chris Ilitch, talked about Slow Roll, a bike ride that brings together thousands of people in Detroit every Monday night. How cool is that?
If you look around, you can find these stories like this all over the city.
Michael Bolton apparently did.