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Campaign preserves Detroit home, musical legacy

Kenny and Barbara Cox

Kenny and Barbara Cox

Kenny Cox was a powerful and talented contributor to Detroit’s musical legacy. As a piano player whose career began in the bop-era, Cox began to infuse traditional jazz sounds with Afro-Caribbean flavors, and with elements borrowed from rock and soul. In the 70s, the city blooming with artistic inspiration and civic vitality stemming from the election of Coleman Young, Cox founded a record label, Strata Records, to capture emerging sounds from Detroit’s underground.

Strata produced albums by Cox and his Contemporary Jazz Quintet, Larry Nozero and Dennis Tini, Sphere, the legendary Lyman Woodard and more. While the label perfectly captured a definitive moment in Detroit musical history, it was not a financial success. In 1975, after only two years in operation, Strata issued its last record, leaving a trove of already recorded albums un-released.

When Cox passed away in 2008, he left ownership of Strata and its archives, including unreleased master tapes, to his wife of 42 years, Barbara Cox. In 2012, a record junkie from New York, DJ Amir Abdullah arranged special funding from Scion to put out the previously unreleased Strata material. Barbara Cox gave her approval and to date Abdullah’s 180-proof record label has put out three Strata classics, including “Clap Clap! The Joyful Noise” by Kenny Cox.

Recently, however, Abdullah discovered the 75-year-old widow, who relies on Social Security, was about to lose her Detroit home due to a tax issue. Sales of the Strata releases were not yet strong enough to pay the $6,700 owed, so Abdullah created an online crowd-sourcing campaign on Indiegogo, a site similar to Kickstarter, to try and help raise the money for Mrs. Cox.

In the first week of the campaign, online contributors gave the money needed to pay the tax debt, but the campaign continues until Jan. 19 to raise additional money to maintain the Cox family home (and its cache of yet-unreleased Detroit musical gems) over the years. As many homeowners living on fixed incomes know, unforeseen repair/tax issues can spring up suddenly and have tragic consequences.

To contribute to the Cox/Strata Indiegogo campaign, visit: Learn more about 180-proof’s re-issues of Strata classics at:

— Staff report  

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