Detroit Dreamin’ With Michael Bolton
Detroit Jewish News
October 15 • 2015
arts & life
Michael Bolton’s tribute
to our fair city premiered
with a red-carpet celebration.
Stacy Gittleman | Contributing Writer
It’s hard to believe that Grammy Award winning
recording artist Michael Bolton is from Connecticut — and not from Detroit.
During his 30-year career, Bolton has literally sung the praises of Motown all over the globe.
Now, he is so confident that this city is on the “tipping point of greatness” that he is in the
final phases of releasing a $400,000 full-length documentary he personally financed, which
previewed at an exclusive sneak peek event last week at Detroit’s Fox Theatre and was attended
by some of the city’s most prominent leaders, businesspeople and entertainers.
Bolton, 62, walked the red carpet at the Fox on Friday, Oct. 2, for the premiere of Gotta Keep
Dreamin: Detroit’s 21st Century Renaissance, drawing a crowd of several hundred, including
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow and U.S. Rep. John Conyers, along
with Chris Ilitch and Quicken Loans CEO Dan Gilbert. Detroit Free Press columnist Mitch Albom emceed a panel of the film’s stars before Martha Reeves closed out the night with a surprise performance of “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”
In addition to featuring Gilbert’s contributions to the city’s comeback, the movie
highlights a number of big names, including John Varvatos, Francis Ford Coppola, Alice
Cooper, Jerry Bruckheimer and more, as well as several young Jewish entrepreneurs
— such as Jacob Cohen, partner at Detroit Venture Partners, who participated in Jewish
Federation of Metropolitan Detroit’s inaugural Entrepreneurial Mission to Israel last April, and
dPOP CEO Melissa Price.
Price, who designs interior spaces for new businesses within once-decaying buildings
in Detroit’s rapidly growing downtown, spoke onstage about her recent move into a
Downtown Detroit apartment and the “endless” places to dine and explore within walking distance
of where she lives.
“There is an emerging belief system taking hold in Detroit that anything is possible,” Price
Gilbert said Detroit’s history and its comeback “lies in the intersection of muscle and
brains” of its determined youthful population and the willingness of older, established businesses
to embrace and understand the culture of a digitally driven new generation.
“We can no longer operate with the old ways of thinking, that this is the way things have
always been done,” Gilbert said. “We need to build corporate cultures that attract young talent.
It is a culture that is proving that ideas, thoughts and beliefs are greater than money
when it comes to building businesses.”
Bolton, 62, was born and raised in a middle class Jewish home in 1950s New Haven, Conn.,
where he was taught by his family “not to hate,”even though his own family at times faced
discrimination as Jews. His connection to his Jewish heritage lies not in practice but in fond
memories of his Ukrainian-born grandparents, who taught him to believe in the American
“My grandparents came to America with nothing more than the confidence and belief
that they could provide a better life for their children,” Bolton said at a press conference
at the Westin Book Cadillac Detroit the day before the premiere. “That is the American
dream, and that dream is still alive right here in Detroit.”
What truly inspired Bolton to make this documentary was his lifelong love of Motown
music — he opened for Detroit’s own Bob Seger in his early years and, in 2013, he recorded an
album of Motown covers, Ain’t No Mountain High Enough. Recently, he discovered Hitsville
U.S.A., the nickname given to Motown studios’ first headquarters, and an introduction to
Gilbert by Bedrock Real Estate Services’ Detroit Ambassador Bruce Schwartz helped seal the
Bolton, who has had his share of uncomplimentary press, knows the sting of being
portrayed in a bad light by the media. His film comes on the heels of much negative national
coverage about Detroit, including the 2012 documentary Detropia, the book Detroit: The
American Autopsy by Charlie LeDuff (Penguin Books) and national coverage of the city’s 2013
“When the media wants to cover Detroit, they cannot resist the bloodiest part — the
blight and the decay — and I know how painful that can be,” Bolton said. “This film project
represents the greatness and the dignity of the people of Detroit. In the three years since I
started this project, more people with no roots in Detroit are increasingly interested in all the
good that is happening here.”
Bolton is back in Los Angeles making final edits with 2929 Entertainment to meet the
deadline to distribute the film for the 2016 film festival circuit. But this is not his last trip to
Detroit, not by a long shot.
“I do not have a kind of house-flipper, short-term relationship with Detroit,” he said. “The people I have met who helped me make this film are so inspiring. I hope this film has a long-lasting afterlife, and I intend to make it
reach as many people as possible to show off the town that keeps getting better every time I