For decades, Detroit has maintained arguably the most influential music scene in the country. Yes, awesome musicians, incomparable vocalists and mesmerizing performers learned everything they knew here. But this city’s influence on music is attributable not only to the iconic singers whose names we all know.
The D is also musically influential because of the people you don’t see. Detroit has contributed some of the most innovative and gifted music producers on the planet.
From early Motown staff producers like Smokey Robinson and Norman Whitfield, to funk maestro transplant George Clinton, to techno pioneers Juan Atkins, Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson, to rock legend Don Was, to hip hop genius J Dilla—these and other local producers have set the global standard for quality, creativity, musicality and innovation.
Whether or not lovers of soul, gospel, R&B, hip hop, jazz or electronica know it, producers from Detroit consistently reshape and reinvent music. Year after year, they are leaders in the development of new sounds that resonate with music fans around the world.
Because the nature of record production is behind the scenes, producers tend to be unsung heroes. They are often more responsible for the sound of a hit song than the artist whose voice is on the record, but their contributions may go unrecognized by the general public.