Music » Local Music

Make Music Detroit aims to be the true fest of the people



Make Music Day celebrations are held every June 21 in over 700 cities around the world. Make Music Days have been held in the U.S. for 10 years. This year, 38 U.S. cities will host their own Make Music Days. And this year, the festival makes its Detroit debut.

Metro Times recently met with the leadership team for Make Music Detroit — consisting of Lawrence King, Mike Woo, and Ulysses Newkirk — at Great Lakes Coffee over steaming cups of joe to discuss the upcoming celebration.

"The characteristics are this: They're always on the solstice, (and) there are over 700 of them," King says, "but they all have this in common: They have to be free and accessible, publicly accessible, open to all ages, (and) they have to be open to all genres, and all levels of talent."

The mission of the festival is to create a celebration of music in the city, King says — and the venues can be as diverse as the talent. "Any place that volunteers to be a venue can be a venue, even if it's your own backyard."

Woo says Make Music Detroit is an open invitation to anyone who wants to participate.

"We want to ensure that the first year, the lineup identifies with the population here and is a good representation of all the music genres and all of the musical richness within the city," he says.

"We do ask for examples of the music, so that we can best match which venue they should play at," King says, "to try and pair similar genres together while simultaneously finding diverse acts playing those genres to create a melting pot of an experience."

There are five participating neighborhoods: Corktown, East Jefferson, downtown, Cultural Center, and Northend. The leadership group has created what they call "walking clusters" — a group of venues within walking distance of each other.

With the hope of embracing Detroit's diversity and cultural richness, the three-man team also strives to inspire attendees to support music.

King sheds some light on the impact Make Music Detroit could have on a city that has cut funds for music education in the schools. "We are motivated to recognize young artists (and to) salute the people who are working in (youth) music education."

Access to music education is every child's right, King says.

"We're not sure what is going to be created out of this cornucopia of all musical styles," King says. With so many different genres of musicians volunteering to play music ranging from Appalachian folk to jazz to rock, the team is eagerly waiting for more musicians to volunteer. "If we don't have it, we want it," King says.

And since the celebration is completely free, there will be no donation spots or coffee cans for tips. There will, however, be people who can direct you to websites that support music education in Detroit. Musicians can still sign up to perform at the Make Music Detroit website. Volunteers are needed behind the scenes as well, with sound, photography, setting up, and tearing down.

Make Music Detroit is the spot to be on the longest day of the year. Portions of the day's events will stream online at Wayne State University's and

"If you make music, make music on the 21st" Newkirk says, "and let everybody know that you are, and if you're in Detroit, meet with somebody that's making music, and if you're from Detroit, tune in to listen to people in Detroit making music."

Make Music Detroit is Tuesday, June 21, throughout the city; see for more details; admission is free and all ages.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Detroit Metro Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Metro Times Press Club for as little as $5 a month.