Detroit is known for many things: cars, food, music, and most importantly, our attitudes. But what about our collaborative spirit? Or our yearning to raise each other up and spread our Detroit pride? These things may not be what most people think of when they hear about our city, but Detroit is a breeding ground for these ideals. Small businesses, art installations, nonprofits, artists, doers, makers and believers. They flock here. They know that Detroit is the hub for all things hustle. And this year,South by Southwest (SXSW) got a taste of what that hustle is all about with the first ever “Born and Raised In South Detroit Showcase,” featuring 20 Detroit artists at Indra’s Awarehouse near downtown Austin, TX. The showcase was curated by Blake Edwards of Parkhouse, Myron Watkins of The Yellow Wall, and Angela Gallegos, manager of the bandONEFREQ. Plus, the showcase was sponsored by Tequila Cabresto, a Michigan owned and operated tequila company.
For those unfamiliar with the annual Texas music festival, SXSW is a six-day event with thousands of musicians, hundreds of venues, and people flocking from all over the globe to catch the best all genres of music. Gallegos explained that the idea for the Detroit showcase was sparked by a previous visit to SXSW.
“We went to South by Southwest last year and we all had a great experience. We all work with music in some way shape or form, so we thought, why not put together a Detroit experience for all the artists who go down there?”
Utilizing social media (Instagram, most specifically) and Assemble Sound, a collaborative space for Detroit musicians, Gallegos, Edwards and Watkins were able to share their idea for the showcase, recruit artists and curate events to raise money to make their vision a reality. The artists they rallied for the festival include: Kash Tha Kushman, Bless Mcfly,Lokye, Prada Leary, Lin-Say, Martez, Tyler Taz, Britney Stoney, Bevlove,Asante, Steph, ONEFREQ, Stevie Soul, King Visionary, DJ FLOW, DJ LANKA, DJ DASH and DJ MELE. Genres ranged from hip-hop to funk, R&B, dance, jazz fusion and even beatboxing. Along with all of the great performers they were able to provide free entry, free tequila, free parking and other special prizes for those who attended.
Stevie Soul, a well-known Detroit beatboxer, traveled to Austin for the first time to attend the showcase and was able to experience the vibe of the festival firsthand.
“Imagine,” he said. “All these different people are in town for South By and a lot of [them] just go to party and network even outside of the actual festival. It’s the perfect place for aspiring or even established artists to go and perform, and network with their peers, show off some new material, and hang out.”
The Detroit lifestyle may not have been as foreign as you may think in Austin, TX, thanks in part to Michigan House, a roving pop-up space that takes the best aspects of Michigan art, music, food, and creativity and shares it with different cities. Temporarily housed in downtown Austin, Michigan House provided entertainment, drinks and Michigan pride during SXSW.
“There’s this sort of sub-scene happening. And connected to that, Michigan has had, for the past several years, this really big presence [at SXSW], and that’s in big part due to the Michigan House,” Ansara explained.
With networking and collaborating being at the top of most artists’ lists, there’s a lot more bringing musicians together. There’s a particular homogeneity that manifests when artists, no matter their hometown, come together and share their talent and inspiration. It creates a space for expression and encouragement that translates across geographies.
“The most flattering thing for me [during the showcase] was when I was up there beatboxing. There were different groups of people rapping and ciphering to my beat, while I was performing. That was a testament to how awesome and free-spirited the whole vibe is there,”
There were many like-minded people collaborating to make this showcase happen, anywhere from 50-60 people traveling down to Texas to spread the sound of Detroit and working behind the scenes to facilitate a smooth experience.
“This was the first year people were coming together in the spirit of being together and supporting each other. So I think that excites me the most,” Gallegos said, “because this culture of collaboration is building in this town [Detroit]. And supporting one another with the grind and the hustle of sharing music and art in general is a great thing, so I can’t wait to see what happens beyond this.”
After the successful turnout from this year’s showcase at SXSW, Gallegos, Edwards and Watkins hope to increase the participation, spread the word and acquire more sponsors to keep the showcase free for artists…and create an even bigger and better experience for next year’s Born and Raised In South Detroit Showcase.