A blast from the past
Beyond being Metro Times' music editor, Mike McGonigal is also an avid gospel archivist and DJ. Earlier this year, he shared audio from a local group in a post titled "McAllister Singers: Kid-fronted Detroit Gospel from the early 1970's." One of the the members recently reached out via email with more information about the group's whereabouts.
Dear Mr. McGonigal:
My name is Peter McAllister, and I'm contacting you on behalf of my family, the McAllisters. We want to express how much we enjoyed reading your May 11, Metro Times blog post. We thank you for sharing some history from our early days as a Detroit gospel singing group and the legacy of our parents. Detroit has a rich heritage of family gospel groups: The Winans and the Clark Sisters. We feel honored to have been featured and to have some of our early recordings included in an article highlighting Detroit gospel!
In response to your question, "love the bit at the end where it says they still perform; I wonder at what church?" the McAllister Singers don't perform together any longer as an entire group. There are four members of the family who come together each year to present a holiday presentation entitled "Once Upon A December Eve," which has become a tradition in the metropolitan Detroit community. The presentation features Alice McAllister Tillman, Dewayne McAllister, Peter McAllister, Maestro Willie J. McAllister Jr., and the "Once Upon a December Eve Orchestra." The program is very diverse with repertoire spanning many genres including traditional holiday favorites, stunning jazz arrangements, classical arias, contemporary carols of the day, and much more!
The show is in its ninth year and will be held at the Garden Theater in Midtown Detroit on December 19. Thank you very much for your time!
Late last year, Brooklyn's Galapagos Art Space announced it was moving to Detroit, explaining the move at the time with a post on its website saying, "You can't paint at night in your kitchen and hope to be a good artist. It doesn't work that way." However, some people took the line to be disparaging to the talented artists making do with what they have. In a blog post on metrotimes.com, Michael Jackman pointed to a T-shirt that read "I paint in my kitchen. At night. Fuck off." (Full disclosure: it was produced by Jackman's girlfriend, Rachel Timlin). Galapagos' Robert Elmes responded: Hello Michael, Rachel,
I love the shirt! My point isn't that we shouldn't paint in our kitchens at night, or in any other room for that matter and at any time we choose. My point was that right now, in NYC, that it's a false promise to arrive there and expect that there is a shot at a real career as an artist. If you have to give 50 exhausting hours a week to another industry (God forbid it be a soul-killing temp job on Wall Street) and well over 50 percent or 60 percent of your income to an uncaring NYC landlord, then you probably aren't going to be in the best emotional place to paint at night in a meaningful way, or sculpt in a meaningful way, etc. I think we're all on the same team. I appreciate your article and T-shirt and the underlying issues they raise. It's important to work together to shape the future we want and to make sure Detroit and Highland Park grow in sustainable ways and include the spectrum of stakeholders that maintain and build strong communities. We have a strong commitment and history of doing that in New York and are excited to collaborate on that work here in Detroit and Highland Park, with you.
We also received feedback from another art space owner — the Wasserman Projects' Gary Wasserman — about Lee DeVito's story in our Fall Arts Guide ("Two Birmingham-based galleries make the Detroit move").
Thanks for writing such an excellent article. I think that you expressed exactly the tone and intent. I liked the reference to the 7.2 square miles, which I had not heard before. Also the mention of if the galleries are getting ahead of the economic reality. Probably so. However, Wasserman Projects is an alternative space, and sales are not the primary objective, but rather, to support the project at least in part. Let's hope for the best!
Thanks again, and hope to see you at the opening.