Mark Slobin, author, renowned ethnomusicologist and former educator at Wesleyan University will present his latest book Motor City Music: A Detroiter Looks Back, at Book Beat bookstore on Sunday, February 17th, at 3:00PM. Book Beat is located at 26010 Greenfield in Oak Park. Please call 248-968-1190 to reserve a book or for more information.
MOTOR CITY MUSIC is the first ever historical study across all musical genres in any American metropolis. Detroit in the 1940s-60s was not just “the capital of the twentieth century” for industry and the war effort, but also for the quantity and extremely high quality of its musicians, from jazz to classical to ethnic. The author, a Detroiter from 1943, begins with a reflection of his early life with his family and others, then weaves through the music traffic of all the sectors of a dynamic and volatile city. Looking first at the crucial role of the public schools in fostering talent, Motor City Music surveys the neighborhoods of older European immigrants and of the later huge waves of black and white southerners who migrated to Detroit to serve the auto and defense industries. Jazz stars, polka band leaders, Jewish violinists, and figures like Lily Tomlin emerge in the spotlight. Shaping institutions, from the Ford Motor Company and the United Auto Workers through radio stations and Motown, all deployed music to bring together a city rent by relentless segregation, policing, and spasms of violence. The voices of Detroit’s poets, writers, and artists round out the chorus.
Mark Slobin was born in wartime Detroit and grew up with classical and folk music backgrounds. His early work on folk music of Afghanistan shifted to studies of Eastern European Jewish music in Europe and America, film music, and theory of ethnomusicology. He has authored over a dozen books in the field of music and has spent his career in Wesleyan University’s renowned ethnomusicology program and is retired in Manhattan.