Renaissance

Pretend You Are Berry Gordy At The Historic United Sound Systems' Open House

December 02, 2013, 1:32 PM

The historic but moribund United Sound Systems recording studio in Detroit is opening for five hours this month, a window that will offer a rare look inside the house where Berry Gordy, Aretha Franklin, John Lee Hooker and other stars recorded music that became world famous.

The open house was announced by the United Sound Systems Recording Studio, which said in a press release that the building, on Second Avenue just north of the I-94 Freeway near Wayne State University, is owned by a postal service worker and mother named Danielle Scott.

Scott and "her wide-eyed young team of high achievers" are tackling the revitalization of the building, according to the release. No one from the group could be reached.

The studio is in a house that is not unlike the two homes that Gordy used for his early Motown headquarters, and it was where Gordy recorded  his first record.  Franklin used the studio to record the 1985 hit "Freeway of Love."


"United Sound Systems . . . is Exhibit A of Michigan's and Detroit's impact on global sound," says Carleton Gholz, the founder of the Detroit Sound Conservancy.

Funkadelic, which included George Clinton, recorded most of its music there. Miles Davis, the Dramatics, John Lee Hooker, Luther Vandross and Eminem also are among those who recorded tracks at 5840 Second Ave, according to a Free Press story in July by Marlon A. Walker. 

In recent years, the studio has attracted attention for revival efforts and because it could be demolished if the state goes ahead with a project to widen and reconstruct I-94.

A nonprofit called the Detroit Sound Conservancy was working to find an alternative to destroying the studio.

"United Sound Systems ought to be the linchpin, the centerpiece of a 21st-Century Detroit soundscape," Carleton Gholz, the founder of the Detroit Sound Conservancy, told Walker. "It is Exhibit A of Michigan and Detroit's impact on global sound. It should be alive and cooking."

The open house is scheduled for 3-8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14. Visitors must register in advance by calling (313) 833-1833 or emailing unitedsoundsystemsstudios@gmail.com.



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By: Michael Lucido