UltraSound brings new music experience to Detroit
By Steve Furay
Special to the Michigan Citizen
The UltraSound, hosted and presented by CoolBeanz (formerly known as RenCen CoolBeanz), is a new live music performance series by Detroit’s best singers and musicians in an intimate acoustic experience. Debuting Jan. 26 at the 5e Gallery in Detroit, the evening featured performances by Steffanie Christi’an, Pierre Anthony and Gwenation. Between songs, the artists answered questions about their lives, careers and inspirations for the music they create.
“When I do this again,” said CoolBeanz at the end of the evening, “come, bring some people with you. Let’s pack this mug out, and I promise you: the people that was on this show, I’m going to bring them back.”
Steffanie Christi’an, who is known for singing over high powered rock n’ roll songs on stages throughout Detroit, was accompanied on acoustic guitar by Nadir Omawale and Duminie DePorres, backed by a rhythm section and keys. The setting allowed for a more intimate experience with the singer, who gave the fans an experience of her exceptional voice.
“I sing rock n’ roll. I would say that I’m pretty aggressive, and this is so different from what it is I do on a regular basis, but I appreciate things when they’re turned down a little bit because you can hear what I’m saying,” laughs Steffanie Christi’an. “It’s just a different energy. I get to see people a little bit differently when they get to hear something like this.”
Christi’an mixed her set with acoustic versions of her harder rock songs along slower, more sensuous songs from her experiences with love. The audience asked her about the differences between her stage and real life persona, which she explained was drastically different.
“It is true there’s a totally different person that comes on, but that’s my healing for myself,” she says.
Pierre Anthony’s set featured songs with a rare honest expression that showed how his music is also a healing process, with lyrics unapologetically honest about his past mistakes that led to him spending time in prison.
“When I looked at being acoustic only, that’s personal in itself,” said Pierre Anthony. “And then I wanted to be honest with y’all, because it’s easy to say anything, and do anything, but I want you to know my story so you ain’t got to go on the Internet and look me up. You can go to OTIS (Offender Tracking Information System) and find my name.”
Anthony’s reputation has grown over the past several years as one of the city’s most outstanding live R&B artists, and he embraces his image as an inspiration to those seeking a new lease on life.
“I’ve lost so much over the course of 10 years. This really is the only thing I have that I can say is mine,” he said. “So why would I change my image to please you. You’re going to like me regardless. I’m not saying it arrogantly, either you like it or you don’t.”
Gwenation has had a career in the music industry with great success as a member of a gospel group signed to a major label, followed by a crashing reality of how executives can embrace an artist one day and be dropped the next.
“After having children, I put on a lot of weight,” said Gwenation, recalling the rejections she received from a record label when pitching her R&B music. “I was still beautiful — I was still the woman who was confident, girly and fun. So I began to talk to people in my life and they would just tell me, ‘Believe in yourself, believe in yourself,’ and I didn’t. Until that one moment where I did believe in me, and it started with a pad and a pencil, and I wrote a song called ‘Believe.’ It was me encouraging me.
“And in that process nobody but my sisters had heard the music, and I began to go to the gym, I began to eat right, I began to be focused. I was so focused and so driven it was only God that took me to that place, but I began to see the beauty in me again. I began to like me again.”
When asked about her inspirations, Gwenation didn’t reply with the typical list of popular music influences, instead choosing to embrace the room.
“I am in a period of my life right now (when) I am inspired by my peers,” said Gwenation. “Steff, I am inspired by you. Pierre, I am totally inspired by you. There are other people in this room that I’m inspired by.”