While Michigan has spawned numerous musicians—including Aretha Franklin, the queen of soul, and Madonna, the queen of pop—American music has never been the same since Berry Gordy started a small recording studio in the 1950s, giving birth to the Motown Sound. Soon this fresh, exciting creation was known worldwide, made famous by local talents like Smokey Robinson, Mary Wells, Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye, Gladys Knight, The Temptations, Stevie Wonder, and countless more. Their stories are told in the Motown Historical Museum, also known as Hitsville USA, where displays include everything from the legendary Studio A to flashy Supremes and Temptations costumes.
Classical fans flock to Saginaw’s Temple Theatre, where the Saginaw Bay Symphony Orchestra regularly performs, or the acoustically perfect 90-year-old Detroit Orchestra Hall, home to the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Almost as old is the Grand Rapids Symphony, founded in 1929. Today this award-winning orchestra stages classical concerts as well as jam sessions by the Grand Rapids Youth Symphony. Farther north, the Traverse Symphony Orchestra is one of the region’s premier ensembles.
The lands around Traverse City and the Lake Michigan shore also provide plenty of inspiration for the 1,200-acre Interlochen Center for the Arts, a music academy and arts camp. Students from around the world come to practice and perform in a variety of open-air concerts, most of which are open to the public. Each June, the camp hosts a festival featuring renowned conductors and soloists.
If you’re an alternative music fan, plenty of options exist in lower Michigan. In Detroit, bands favor St. Andrews Hall and the Royal Oak Music Theater, both known for their warm receptions to cutting-edge artists. Meanwhile, well-known folk artists usually add the Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor to their list of dates, and fans of blues and jazz can find several hangouts in downtown Detroit.
by Laura Martone from Moon Michigan, 3rd Edition, © Avalon Travel