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DETROIT MUSIC AWARDS FOUNDATION
The Detroit Music Awards Foundation is a Michigan 501(c) 3 non-profit corporation, whose mission is to recognize Detroit area musicians working on a national, regional and local level. Its purpose is also to support and nurture the musical community in the Detroit metropolitan area, and to create a network for musicians that cuts across genres and styles.
Marc Dorian is a keyboardist, singer, and songwriter who has always known he wanted to be a musician and found his way to making a living in the music business by taking time to learn the “why” even as he was perfecting the “how.”
Dorian started out in bands that were mostly blues/rock oriented and recalls being turned on to assorted pioneers of blues piano, as well as really hearing the piano parts on early records by country artist Vince Gill; both of which might have gone unnoticed if his more seasoned bandmates hadn’t suggested them. Billy Joel, Bruce Hornsby, and Elton John were all artists Dorian heard in heavy rotation during his formative years, their style and talent making a mark on him as well.
A reputation as a seasoned professional who always shows up prepared to give his best performance has taken Dorian to numerous high profile events in a variety of settings. He has toured with country artists and played corporate events supporting national recording artists such as Sheryl Crow, Peter Frampton, Foreigner, and The Beach Boys at venues ranging from the North American International Auto Show to Super Bowl XLVI.
Dorian currently earns his living by playing keys and singing at over 100 shows per year with the tribute band Your Generation In Concert. Just because he is an integral part of a band doesn’t mean there isn’t more to Marc Dorian the solo artist, however. As a young man in Nova Scotia, Dorian was exposed to two fellow Canadian artists who both released solo projects and were well-known as members of bands. Burton Cummings (The Guess Who) and Lawrence Gowan (Styx) both put out records that were just vocals and piano, giving Dorian the impetus needed to continue pursuing his career path as a pianist.
Being the face for the next generation of Polka stars is a big responsibility - one Johnny Koenig doesn't take lightly. He's been playing accordion since age 5 and performing professionally since he was 15, always keeping his dad's band and the Polka greats like Frankie Yankovic and Walter Ostanek in mind when he's in front of people. Johnny had a really busy 2015 - from a trip to the GRAMMY's to touring all over the States to being the house band during the national broadcast of Fox & Friends Weekend News Oktoberfest Celebration. When he's not at home in Pittsburgh saving lives as a paramedic, he's working on all kinds of fun Polka music stuff, including a brand new album that will come out in the Summer of 2016.
Mary McGuire is a singer/songwriter whose music merges elements of folk, rock and pop, often with poignant lyrics and complex harmonies. Growing up in 70's Detroit and learning from the radio jocks of America's first underground radio stations was all it took for Mary to pick up the guitar and learn her first Beatles, Neil Young, Eagles and Led Zeppelin tunes. Once she started, her appetite for acoustic rock guitar was fueled.
Loads of guitar lessons, gigging solo and stints in bands with like minded musicians writing and recording led her to rack up miles on the highways across America. Mary suddenly found her writing songs about where she was, what she saw and what she was doing from her perspective gleaned in the Upper Midwest.
Moving from the Midwest to the East Coast and back, Mary found that each place had a different soundtrack that influenced her writing - from the rock influences of industrial Detroit to the gentle folk rock influences from the shores of Martha's Vineyard to the rhythm of the horses clipping along on the car-free streets of Mackinac Island. Absorbing the distinct sound of the people and places where she has lived and letting it all influence her is what defines her characteristic songwriting style.
Mary's latest album, "Love Struck" has been critically acclaimed and she won the Outstanding Americana Songwriter award at the 2016 Detroit Music Awards.
Sami Mei is a singer/songwriter from the Detroit area with expressive vocals, unique arrangement, and retrospective lyrics. She is passionate about writing, recording, and performing, and has appeared at venues such as the Fox Theater and Madison Square Garden. She has also contributed her talents to many charitable events including Kids Kicking Cancer, Gleaner’s Food Bank, and the BBCC/Youth Action Board. The animated musician beautifully delivers organic vocals, a versatile repertoire, and an engaging stage presence which allows her love for performing and her art to shine.
Carolyn Striho has been defying musical genres since her early years in the music business. She has been punk, hard rock, singer/songwriter, and even a DJ. The one constant is that Striho pushes the boundaries – of society and herself – to make the music that she wants to.
Striho first made a name for herself fronting the Detroit Energy Asylum in the 80’s, but her early days as the lead vocalist, keyboardist, and chief songwriter for The Cubes while working as a DJ at WDET Radio provided a springboard. Striho went on to perform with The Ramones, The New York Dolls, Was (Not Was), Iggy Pop, and has worked with Patti Smith numerous times - both on stage and in the studio.
Her dynamic concerts, full of passion and creativity make Striho a regular on the festival circuit. She brings her charismatic performance to clubs and art galleries all over the Midwest and Canada, also touring in the UK, Italy, and Japan. Her high energy shows often include Striho playing keyboard with the heel of her boot or her forehead; and she deftly switches between guitar and keys while belting out vibrant vocals. It’s not merely about the music, it is a full on presentation of her art.
Paying her dues and backing up her songwriting with amazing performances for years has earned Striho the respect of her peers. She is well-known in Detroit and has been nominated for sixty Detroit Music Awards since their inception in 1988, winning Outstanding Rock/Pop Album in 2010, Outstanding Acoustic/Americana Album in 2014, and back to back wins for Outstanding Rock/Pop Songwriter in 2015 & 2016.
After taking a few years off to be a full time new Mom to her twin daughters, Cindy was finally getting back to music and performing in 2012 with the release of Every Rise & Fall (her 5th CD). However, she was diagnosed with breast cancer in summer of 2013. Cindy handled the experience of a double mastectomy and reconstruction in the ways she knows best - by openly sharing the journey with humor and blunt honesty, and of course, through song. Her new CD "Curve" is due out in October 2014. With "a new set and a new set"... this spunky survivor is back at it, and stronger than ever.
Cindy’s desire to give back to people has recently lead her to be named the Celebrity Ambassador for Breastcancer.org. This exciting partnership will allow Cindy to spread the message about this fantastic non-profit while she is performing on tour and at various public appearances. Breastcancer.org provides the most reliable, complete and up-to-date information about breast cancer and breast health as well as an active and supportive online community. Cindy knows first-hand what an amazing organization this is – she used their site many times herself during her journey from diagnosis to recovery.
Classic Cauley is a woman who lives up to her name on many levels. She is a role model of the highest quality and standards. She has spent the past few years honing her crafts, which include songwriting, singing, social media and modeling. In addition to all of these professional pursuits, Classic is a mother to two beautiful girls. Setting a good example for her girls is one of the reasons she pushes herself to be better and do more. She knows her purpose is to connect with people and does so through her music. One would expect nothing less from a woman who has been a “Classic” from day one.
The first time Classic realized that she could reach out to people by using her musical skill was when she sang church solos as a child. This was the beginning of what would lead to performing in musical productions in college, where she could showcase her rich mezzo soprano voice while gaining stage experience. Her musical influences range from Deniece Williams to Stevie Wonder and many producers have sought to collaborate with Classic for their projects. She is currently working with composer A.B. – known for song placements in some of Adam Sandler’s films such as “Grown Ups” and “Just Go With It.”
Classic continues to meet with other producers and build her own catalog of work. Her genuine and heartfelt love of a variety of music, including Gospel, R&B, Pop, Hip Hop, Country & Jazz, allows Classic to showcase her creative prowess. Her first love is writing and she does so with the same ambition that runs through all other aspects of her life. She loves interacting with people and finding some common connection. The songs Classic writes come from everyday life, her own and other folks she meets. She listens to what people have to say, making a connection and translating those experiences into something that can be shared with the public on a human level. It might be through live performance or having songs placed in television and film, but Classic Cauley shows us that we all have commonality.
The desire to share her knowledge and broaden her horizons pushed Classic to become even more involved in the music industry. She worked on the NBC Television show, “Real Music Live” as a Media and Talent Administrator. The skills she learned there are now being put to use as the Social Media Specialist at “From The Heart Productions,” a non-profit organization that helps indie film makers secure funding. Most recently, Classic has partnered with Greg Savage to be a contributing blogger on his popular DIYMusicBiz website.
Classic is always striving to do better while at the same time helping others to do so. She is an eternal optimist who knows there is a way out of any situation. By pushing herself to reach higher, Classic has become well versed at using her unique skill set to connect with numerous aspects of the music industry. Those talents will be on display as Classic continues to expand her range with new songs, new fans, and new projects that tell stories destined to become classics.
The Phil Christie of today is different than the Phil that wrote the songs on his last album “Rearview Mirror.” He is now a father and a little older, wiser and more in touch with himself. The images of “looking back and reflecting on love lost, love won, dreams unfulfilled and those dreams that may yet still come true” that were the theme of “Rearview Mirror” are memories. Those memories became the starting point for Phil’s upcoming release, “Ghosts of Christmas Past.”The aptly named “Ghosts” speaks of the holidays in a way that only a man who has done some reflection on life could do.
Looking back and learning from his past have given Phil Christie a unique take on the reality of the holidays. There is an almost melancholy feel to the new work that is a bit of a departure from the traditional, feel good holiday music. “Ghosts of Christmas Past” will include several traditional holiday classics, as well as new tracks that Phil has written for this stripped down, almost folk/Americana CD. It is all about sitting around beside the fire on a cold night, enjoying each other’s company and remembering the “Ghosts of Christmas Past” – good or bad.
Phil Christie is a native of Canada who first picked up a guitar at age 7 when his aunt gave him one as a gift. Shortly after that, his parents divorced and what followed was a dive into using music as an escape that any psychiatrist could peg a mile away. Phil took to the guitar right away and Glen Campbell was a huge early influence. He wanted to sing like him, play like him, and sadly, even wear his hair like Glen. Soon after, Phil discovered the Beatles, Neil Diamond, Gordon Lightfoot and John Denver and would recreate their concert albums over and over in his room – with enough savvy to use a desk lamp as a spotlight.
That spotlight soon began to shine on Phil in public, as well. He earned a Cub Scout merit badge for singing Glen Campbell’s “Dreams of the Everyday Housewife” in front of everyone. That experience was the beginning of turning a shy, introverted kid into the person he became. Music was a wonderful way to make friends and the songwriting process became cathartic. Phil played in school concerts and assemblies, using these public forums as a way to express his bottled up feelings. High school was fun and he had learned firsthand how passion and art could enhance self-esteem and build confidence.
Phil Christie is taking that learning experience and giving back to kids who might not have the same opportunities he did to express themselves. He knows full well what music can do for a child, and plans to open a “School of Rock” in December, 2014. Music really is for everyone – from the jocks to the nerds – but it is especially transformational for the shy kids, the loners, the outsiders that feel isolated. Phil is passionate about teaching and wants to help enrich the lives of children through music.
Even after all of the commercial and critical success he has had over the years (Kerrville New Folk Finalist in 2002, airplay on over 200 radio stations worldwide, a 2005 Billboard World Song Contest finalist and playing at the legendary Bluebird Cafe), Phil still feels that his biggest accomplishment was becoming a parent. Jason Christie was born in December of 2009 and has had a wonderful influence on Phil. Two of the songs on the soon to be released “Ghosts of Christmas Past” are about parenthood. Part of the motivation behind opening the “School of Rock” is because Phil knows how enriching music can be and wants to leave a legacy for his own son. Phil Christie has come full circle by using the lessons learned from his own past and sharing them with others. He has grown as a singer, a songwriter, and a man through the shared experiences we can all relate to.
Olivia Frances is an old soul wrapped inside the effervescent free spirit of an 18 year old girl. Wisdom shines through in her writing and dedication to her craft. Olivia is serious about her musical gift. Her work ethic includes disciplined daily practice and writing new songs. This talented singer songwriter originally from Cincinnati, OH and now based in Nashville began her musical journey at a young age – her first performance was a duet with a friend during an elementary school talent show. Her pursuit of the spotlight was set in motion in 7th Grade when Olivia had her first solo at the school’s Winter Concert. It was a moment that remains vividly in her mind; as she stepped up to the microphone, away from the choir and sang her first solo, Olivia knew in that instant that being on stage was where she belonged.
She started studying music in earnest after that; with piano at age six and by the time she was 12, her love of guitar and songwriting came to the forefront. Olivia continues to hone her musical talents and took the step of moving to Nashville on her own after graduating high school. This change of scenery has enabled her to focus on a distinctive style that is a fusion of folky pop and country. It’s a true blending of her love of the catchy pop melodies and the storytelling aspect of country music. After joining the prestigious Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) at age 12, her move to Nashville enabled Olivia to become more active and attend more NSAI events. This immersion into the process has allowed Olivia to expand her writing skills, co-writing with such well-known names as Carmen Brandy and Matthew Price. She was ecstatic to find out that her song “Head to Toe” made it through the nerve wracking “Pitch to Publisher” process and was chosen with seven other songs to be taken by a publisher in Nashville.
The success kept coming for Olivia as she continued to work on making her dream a reality. Her days are spent perfecting her music, while at the same time learning as much as she can about the music business as an intern with a record label. The valuable experience and connections she makes have allowed Olivia to play at such well-respected venues as The Commodore Grille and The Bluebird. Her influences come from various genres because Olivia is drawn to the song as opposed to one particular artist. She counts Bon Iver’s “Skinny Love” and “Show Me What I’m Looking For” by Carolina Liars as two such songs. She loves connecting with people through her music and recently got the attention of a filmmaker who chose to include one of Olivia’s songs in a documentary about the famous Cincinnati Music Hall. The fact that her first film placement came in a movie about something so close to her heart and right in her hometown has Olivia giddy with excitement.
All in all, this is only the beginning for the vivacious young girl who grew up in Cincinnati with no musical influence in her family. Olivia’s mother is a writer and her father runs their family business. Their love and support have shaped Olivia into the hard working, always curious young woman she is today. She might find her next inspiration for a song while out in nature or reading a book. Olivia hopes to bring the world together by telling stories with her music, and with over 12,000 “Frances Fans” she is well on her way. Olivia is planning an exciting new project in 2015 and continues to pursue her dreams while writing and making music in the Music City.
Fumosonic is the culmination of 20+ years of marriage and collaboration between John and Kelly Fumo. The vision of these two musician/composers from Los Angeles, CA is a transformative musical experience that draws upon John’s jazz influences and Kelly’s love of music. The pair met while doing a recording session for singer Delaney Bramlett and had an instant connection. Their journey began with the first song they created called “Shut Up and Go Home!”, which showcases the unique formula of a heavy beat, Kelly’s strong vocals and some free jazz improvisation by John.
John’s trumpet playing may be heavily influenced by Miles Davis and the free expressions of jazz music, but he has worked as a side man with the likes of Neil Diamond, James Brown, Beck and Brian Setzer. Kelly’s world view was honed during the time she spent traveling the world and composing music – all while getting her degree in Art and working as an Illustrator. The importance of their family is always a factor in John and Kelly’s lives and the birth of their second son was the motivation for a new album.
Fumosonic’s latest CD, “Love is Everything” features two songs (“I Have the Perfect Kind of Love” and “A Thousand Kisses”) that are phrases their son whispered to Kelly before bed one evening. This new CD is an intoxicating mix that blends the influences of Kelly’s trance like belly dance music and John’s love of East Indian classical improvisational music. The Fumosonic experience is rare and compelling - this is music that has to be seen, heard and felt. It truly is an “experience” not to be missed.
GoGirlsMusic.com is the oldest and largest online community of indie women musicians. It was founded by Madalyn Sklar in 1996 to promote, support and empower members through music showcases and networking events worldwide. GoGirlsMusic.com is also the platform for a weekly Twitter chat every Thursday. #ggchat has grown exponentially in the past year and now features two installments – a daytime and evening edition. This is the only weekly music biz chat on Twitter and it continues to trend up every week. #ggchat offers all kinds of music insight direct from the people on the front lines - musicians and music industry insiders alike.
Since 2006, when French native, Eric John Kaiser, has moved from Paris to Portland (Oregon) he has logged every year close to 10,000 miles via air, land and sea. Exploring North America on multiple lengthy tours, he has gigged his way up through Canada and down through the South, as far as New Orleans and Washington D.C., where he performed as an “Artist in Residence” for the Smithsonian Museum. Sometimes driving his trusty Subaru under the wide Montana sky, sometimes riding the subway under the New York City canyons... Then jetting across the Atlantic to tour through France... His music has logged as many miles and picked up accents from across the American landscape: his latest songs resonate now with a very American rhythm, like bouncing across the vast plains on horseback… some western lap steel guitar... some dirty roadhouse blues…
Rorie Kelly is a small redheaded tornado of sound and her aggressive acoustic guitar style complements her raw powerhouse vocals. People often wonder how "that sound came out of that body." Rorie has been making music since she was a teenager and was strongly influenced by the stream-of-consciousness songwriting of the 90's. Over the years, she has been compared to Janis Joplin or Alanis Morisette for her high powered vocals, and Joni Mitchell or Sarah Bareilles for her catchy, confessional brand of songwriting. Rorie's debut album was released in 2010 and she is currently working on her second studio offering while playing numerous shows in the northeast, especially her homebase in and around NYC.
Singer, guitarist and songwriter Ben Mauro grew up in Syracuse, New York. He first began playing guitar by blasting Led Zeppelin songs in his parents’ basement and soon he was totally obsessed with making music. Ben spent years perfecting his playing chops in NYC by performing multiple styles of music until 4am, five nights a week. Ben then got an offer to join Lionel Richie's band, where he has remained one of the core members of the band for over 13 years. He has performed with various other artists, including Don Felder, Kelly Clarkson, Britney Spears and John Fogerty. Ben is also the host of his own travel and music show that he shoots and produces called LET'S GO! with Ben Mauro. He released his debut EP, “Happily Ever,” in 2012 and followed up with “Take Your Time” in May of 2014. His self titled full length solo CD was released in December 2014.
Madalyn Sklar is best known as the founder of GoGirlsMusic.com, the oldest and largest online community of indie women musicians, but her story really boils down to her main goal in life – enabling her clients to work smarter, not harder. This “Techie in the Music Business” took her lifelong passion for music and technology and combined them to start Orbit Web Design, which later evolved into the Madalyn Sklar brand. Madalyn has used her vast experience to weave technology and music together by working with musicians to be a social media consultant, music business coach and a blogger. She works with independent musicians as well as companies inside and outside the music industry. Her eagerness to share years of accumulated knowledge makes Madalyn one of the most in demand speakers at music industry conferences, discussion panels and college courses. Speaking and moderating at music conferences allows Madalyn to teach people all over the country what she has spent years learning herself. She has been a guest at SXSW, Folk Alliance, Dewey Beach, Dfest, DIY Convention, Indie Connect and NARIP, just to name a few. She has served on the Board of Directors for NARIP (National Association of Record Industry Professionals) and is currently ranked as the #2 Social Media Power Influencer in Houston, TX. Despite her busy schedule, Madalyn can be found every Thursday at 3 & 9p EST hosting the widely popular weekly Twitter Chat - #ggchat. The #ggchat has grown exponentially in the past three years and continues to bring artists and music professionals together to work on new and exciting ideas that enrich the music community.
Dino Soldo is best known for a polymath stage presence; singing, playing keys, classic wind instruments and modern electronic and self-invented doo-dads. "I love songs. I love writing them. I love being in service to them and the songwriter. I'll play 20 things or nothing as long as I serve the song." Dino has toured with Leonard Cohen and is currently on the road with Lionel Richie. He is also an accomplished painter and spends a lot of his down time during tours creating art for his Road Works Projects. In the mindset of service, Dino donates all of the painting profits to The Hunger Project: an organization of extremely high integrity investing in mothers and their children to put an end to hunger around the world. "I already have the best work somebody could do in this world. I'm glad and thankful to do it. It only makes sense to use these paintings to invest in something that I truly think could be a reality in my life: The end of chronic, persistent hunger in this world."
Based in Austin, TX, Dena Taylor is a jazz vocalist who harkens back to the days of smoke filled clubs and smoky voiced chanteuses. Her sound is solid; without a lot of vocal gymnastics in the Jazz Standards she covers. She inhabits the songs and makes them her own – feeling happiness, anger, joy, sorrow, love and hate. She draws listeners in and allows them to relate to these songs all over again. Dena was named “Best Female Jazz Artist of the Year” by Indie Music Channel in 2014. Her most recent album “The Nearness of You” showcases her vocal talents and reminds us that even though she is a “seasoned” artist singing Standards, these songs don’t lose their ability to move and touch the audience just because they may have fallen out of vogue.