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Detroit Sound Conservancy presents ‘Conserving Sounds, Telling Stories’

Detroit Sound Conservancy COURTESY PHOTO

Detroit Sound Conservancy

By Steve Furay
Special to the Michigan Citizen

The Detroit Sound Conservancy is attempting to fill a hole in the history of Detroit music. The DSC is an organization bringing together collectors and archivists to help preserve the history of the songs of the Motor City — and the musicians who made them — for generations to come. On May 23, the group will present its first conference “Conserving Sounds, Telling Stories” at the Main Branch of the Detroit Public Library from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

The DSC was born of a need to help archivists, including collectors, libraries and museums, build infrastructure to save the materials that will be evidence of Detroit’s music history. The group began in 2011 at the initiative of Carlton Gholz, a freelance journalist with a doctorate in communication studies who has written extensively about Detroit music after the Motown era.

Gholz’s experiences have brought him closer to the stories of the musicians whose sounds helped change the world.

“I realized there was no place for my own personal archive, everything I’ve put together in the last 15 years has no place,” says Gholz. “I have files, cabinets filled with articles, I’ve got audio tapes and mixtapes and mix CDs, a room full of vinyl all dedicated to Detroit.

“All that stuff, and there’s no place to put it. It seems like we have the places in the city, there are groups doing things, but they’re either underfunded, they’re understaffed or they’re not well known,” he says. “And so there seemed to be a place for a group that could come in and build awareness, build some consciousness and step in in terms of programming.”

The “Conserving Sounds, Telling Stories” will bring together writers and lecturers with diverse backgrounds in writing about Detroit music. Each presentation will be 15 to 20 minutes long, including “Planning for a Detroit Sound Legacy” by Michelle McKinney; “Illuminating Detroit’s Place in the Hip Hop Narrative” by Alex Blue V; and “The Rise and Fall of the Detroit Mix Show” by Gholz.

The conference will take place in the Music, Arts and Literature Department and the E. Azalia Hackley Reading Room in the Main Branch Library. The E. Azalia Hackley Collection of African Americans in the Performing Arts was first provided materials in 1943 by the Detroit Musicians Association, a local chapter of the National Association of Negro Musicians.

The donation was made in response to the deadly riots that had taken place that year, showing a need for materials to be safe from being lost or destroyed.

“My job, our group’s job is to take care, support the people that support the history of the music,” says Gholz.

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