There have been so many prolific musicians that have come from Michigan that it’s difficult to name them all. Here are just a few whose artistic prowess have made, or are still making a significant mark on the industry and the world.
Anita Baker is a soulful singer-songwriter from Detroit. Starting her career in the late 1970s with the funk band Chapter 8, Baker released her first solo album, The Songstress, in 1983. In 1986, she rose to stardom following the release of her platinum-selling second album, Rapture, which included the Grammy-winning single Sweet Love.
Big Sean moved to Detroit when he was just 3 months old. He graduated from Cass Tech High School where he developed his rap skills. In 2005, Kanye West was doing a radio interview at a local radio station and Sean headed over to the station to perform some freestyle for him. Two years later, West signed Big Sean to GOOD Music.
Alice Cooper was born in Detroit as Vincent Damon Furnier. The shock rock legend eventually took on the name of his former band as his own. The original Alice Cooper band released its first album in 1969, and has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Eminem was born Marshall Mathers, but may be equally well known as “Slim Shady,” an alter ego he developed to further his rap career. He has won multiple Grammy Awards and an Oscar. Rolling Stone placed him on its list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time, labeling him the “King of Hip Hop.”
The Four Tops are a vocal quartet from Detroit, who helped to define the city’s Motown sound of the 1960s. Levi Stubbs, Abdul “Duke” Fakir, Renaldo “Obie” Benson and Lawrence Payton remained together for over four decades, performing from 1953 until 1997 without a change in personnel. The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.
Aretha Franklin was affectionately known the world over as the “Queen of Soul.” Her father was a minister at New Bethel Baptist Church, where she began singing. Her prolific career included a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and a receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Glenn Frey was a founding member of legendary rock band the Eagles. Born in Detroit and raised in Royal Oak, the singer-songwriter also enjoyed a successful solo career. Combined, he had 24 Top 40 singles on the Billboard Hot 100. The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Greta Van Fleet is a rock band from Frankenmuth that formed in 2012. Consisting of vocalist Josh Kiszka, guitarist Jake Kiszka, bassist Sam Kiszka, and drummer Danny Wagner, the group’s debut full-length studio album, Anthem of the Peaceful Army, was released on October 19, 2018, and topped the Billboard Rock Album charts in the first week after its release.
Barry Gordy was born in Detroit and went on the create a new identity for his hometown through his songwriting and record-producing talents. As the founder of Motown Records, he built an empire by crafting the sounds of Smokey Robinson, the Supremes, Gladys Knight & the Pips, the Commodores, Stevie Wonder, and the Jackson 5, among others. He virtually created his own musical genre, commonly known as “the Motown sound.”
Mayer Hawthorne is an Ann Arbor native whose real name is Andrew Mayer Cohen. His stage name is a combination of his middle name and the street he grew up on. The multi-talented singer, songwriter, musician, and producer has had many of his songs featured in television and movie productions.
Iggy Pop was born in Muskegon as James Newell Osterberg, Jr., and raised in Ypsilanti. Commonly designated as the “Godfather of Punk,” he was the vocalist of influential proto-punk band the Stooges. During periods when the band was broken up, he had a successful solo career. He has received two Grammy nods and one Golden Globe nomination.
Insane Clown Posse is often abbreviated as ICP, and is a hip hop duo composed of Violent J (Joseph Bruce) and Shaggy 2 Dope (Joseph Utsler). The duo, which met in Oak Park, performs a style of hardcore hip hop known as horrorcore and is known for its elaborate live performances. The group has two platinum and five gold albums.
Kem is the stage name for R&B performer, Kim Owens, who grew up in Southeast Michigan. The Grammy-nominated artist has sold over 2.9 million records.
Kid Rock is also known locally by his birth name, Robert Ritchie. He hails from Romeo and has had a varied career including the uncommon combination of hip hop and country music. He has been nominated for 5 Grammy Awards including Best Rock album for 2008’s Rock N Roll Jesus.
Anthony Kiedis has served as lead singer for the Red Hot Chili Peppers since the band’s inception in 1989. He is a native of Grand Rapids.
Earl Klugh is a jazz guitarist and composer from Detroit. He is considered by many to be one of the finest acoustic players in the world, and has recorded over 30 albums including 23 Top Ten charting records, garnering over a dozen Grammy nominations.
Madonna is otherwise known as Madonna Louise Ciccone, born in Bay City and raised in Pontiac and Rochester. A grad of Rochester High, she attended U of M on a dance scholarship. She became a legendary performer and one of the best-selling artists of all time. She has 7 Grammy Awards and holds the record for the most number-ones on all combined Billboard charts, including twelve number-one songs on the Billboard Hot 100 and eight number-one albums on the Billboard 200.
MC 5 was a rock band from Lincoln Park, that was formed in 1964. The original band line-up consisted of vocalist Rob Tyner, guitarists Wayne Kramer and Fred “Sonic” Smith, bassist Michael Davis, and drummer Dennis Thompson. Sadly, Tyner and Smith both died in their 40s, but remembered through their music. The group’s three albums are regarded by many as hard rock classics.
Ray Parker, Jr was born in Detroit and attended Cass Tech before graduating from Northwestern High School. He wrote songs and played music with Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin and many others. His solo career including 6 Top 40 hits. He is best known for Ghostsbusters, the theme song to the 1984 movie by the same name. The song was a massive hit and earned Parker an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song.
Mike Posner is a singer-songwriter who was born in Detroit and raised primarily in Southfield. A graduate of Birmingham Groves High School. Posner was nominated for Song of The Year at the Grammys for his record I Took A Pill In Ibiza. He has also written with and for many other artists. His co-writing credits include Sugar by Maroon 5, Boyfriend by Justin Bieber, and Beneath Your Beautiful by Labrinth.
Smokey Robinson is a singer, songwriter, record producer, and former record executive, who was the founder and front-man of the Motown vocal group the Miracles. He has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame, and was honored with the National Medal of Arts in 1993.
The Romantics was a rock group formed in Detroit in 1977. The original lineup consisted of lead vocalist, rhythm guitarist, and harmonicist Wally Palmar, lead guitarist and vocalist Mike Skill, bassist and backing vocalist Rich Cole, and drummer and lead vocalist Jimmy Marinos. The group achieved popularity on the strength of the band’s high-energy shows and well-crafted pop songs like What I Like About You and Talking in Your Sleep.
Diana Ross was a member of the immensely popular Supremes group before breaking out as the lead singer and eventually with a solo career. The Detroit native grew up in Brewster-Douglass Housing Projects and attended Cass Technical High School. Her storied career includes 12 Grammy nominations and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, an Oscar nomination, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Bob Seger is a legendary rocker who was born in Detroit and grew up in Ann Arbor, where he graduated from Pioneer High. In 1973, he put together the Silver Bullet Band, with a group of Detroit-area musicians, and received national acclaim with the Grammy-winning album Live Bullet, recorded live at Cobo Hall. He followed that success with Night Moves. The singer-songwriter was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004.
Paul Stookey is the “Paul” in the Peter, Paul and Mary trio, one of the best-known ensembles of the 1960s phase of the American folk music. He graduated from Birmingham High and attended Michigan State. The trio won 5 Grammys in 16 nominations.
The Temptations is a vocal group from Detroit that had a series of highly successful singles and albums with Motown Records during the 1960s and 1970s. It was comprised of David Ruffin, Melvin Franklin, Paul Williams, Otis Williams, and Eddie Kendricks. Their signature dance moves would influence generations of performers. Affectionately known as “The Temps,” the group won 4 Grammys in 9 nominations and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989.
Don Was came into the world as Don Fagenson. The Oak Park High grad attended U of M for a year before focusing entirely on music. He eventually formed the group Was (Not Was) with school friend David Weiss and found commercial success with Walk Like a Dinosaur. He went on to a tremendous career as a music producer and has earned 4 Grammys in 11 nominations.
Jack White began his career as part of the Michigan underground garage rock scene, performing with his wife, Meg, as The White Stripes. Meg decided to retire from music and Jack went on to a solo career as a singer, songwriter and producer. He has his own label, Third Man Records, and produces vinyl records in a plant in Detroit. His work has produced over 30 Grammy nominations.
BeBe and CeCe Winans are members of one of Detroit’s most talented musical families, known for gospel and R&B. Brothers Ronald, Marvin, Carvin, and Michael Winans (the second, third, fourth and fifth siblings) perform as The Winans. Bebe released several albums, first with his sister CeCe Winans, and later as a solo artist. He has 6 Grammys in 21 nominations, and also hosts his own radio show. Cece Winans won her first Grammy in 1987 for Best Soul Gospel Performance, Female for For Always. She has since stacked up a dozen Grammys in well over 20 nominations.
Stevie Wonder is the famous stage name of Stevland Hardaway Morris, who was born in Saginaw. He got the nickname “Little Stevie Wonder” from a producer at Motown when he was signed at just 11 years old. Wonder has won 25 Grammy Awards, as well as a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1996. He is one of only two artists and groups who have won the Grammy for Album of the Year three times. Appropriately enough, at age 38, he became the youngest person ever inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.