The Music Geek’s Travel Guide To Detroit

Detroit doesn’t exactly have a reputation for being touristy. Lately, whenever we’ve made the national news, it’s usually been bad.

But, if you visit the right spots, you’ll realize this city’s musical legacy—proud and pioneering as it is—is a rich and remarkable vindication against all the negative things you’ve been hearing about Detroit. It’s the singers, songwriters, performers and musicians who inhabited this city (and its greater metropolitan area) from the ’40s through the ’80s, who would substantially influence (and in some cases, arguably trailblaze through) the genres of jazz, blues, Rdanamp;B/soul, pop, punk, hip-hop and techno. And it continues today. Here are five spots to check out when you’re in the Motor City.

1. The Motown Museum / Histville U.S.A.

2648 W. Grande Blvd.


This city created its own genre of music, The Motown Sound, and you can visit the actual laboratory where it was brought to life, Studio A. The former photography studio that was renovated into a recording space 65 years ago by the label’s founder, Berry Gordy, is now somewhat of a shrine dedicated to the all of the talented musicians, songwriters and iconic singers and stars who worked tirelessly to turn out too many # 1 hits to count during a whirlwind 10 year period in the 1960s.

There isn’t a long driveway, ornate gate or sprawled parking lot; the Motown Museum sits unassumingly in the middle of a neighborhood near midtown (you’ll need to call ahead for a guided tour with an experienced and knowledgeable museum docent). Breathtaking photos and inspiring memorabilia are on display, images capturing these soon-to-be musical history-makers in the act of creation. How many of us were raised on the immortal songs, captured within the walls of this studio? This is where Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye …