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R&B fest joins Ford weekend music lineup music


By Yvonne Wingett / The Detroit News

Luther Vandross will mix old and new in his set.

Ford Detroit Music Festival

Luther Vandross, Missy Elliott, Frankie Beverly and Maze, Ginuwine, Tank, Erick Sermon and the Isley Brothers are featured 6 p.m. Saturday Comerica Park, Montcalm and Whiterell, just off Woodward Avenue in Detroit
Call (313) 359-6110
Tickets $25 TO $125
Missy Elliott joins the mix of R&B performers.

DETROIT--The city hits a high note when R&B platinum artists heat up the music scene Saturday night. It will be all about urban and soul- flavored beats at the inaugural Ford Detroit Music Festival, says event promoter Kevin Brown.
The event packs a popular lineup, including Luther Vandross, the Isley Brothers, MAZE featuring Frankie Beverly, Missy Elliott, Ginuwine, Tank and Erick Sermon. Some may say it's an odd mix of performers -- old school and new.
"It's going to be a festive feeling, combining old and new, black and white and young and old," Brown says. "The entertainers are important, but we want to get a great cross-section of folks to come down to enjoy downtown Detroit."
Expect new and old material from R&B sensation Luther Vandross, who released a self-titled album earlier this year, which recently went platinum.
"I'm going to give 'em the stuff they've known and remembered over the decades -- it's going to be a good show," he says. The one-night R&B festival takes place the same weekend as the Ford Detroit International Jazz Festival.
"We wanted to own the musical weekend, and we'll deliver two different sounds to two different audiences, and that's what we intended," Ford's Elliott Hall says. "We'll have the pure jazz people at Hart Plaza and the rhythm and blues smooth people at Comerica."
Hall is vice-president of dealer development at Ford Motor Co., sponsor of the weekend's two musical events. Ford will have T-birds, Navigators and Jaguars on display at both festivals, Hall says, hoping to attract customers from all demographics. Entry-level cars, such as the Ford Focus, will also be at the Comerica event, for that younger crowd.
Organizers also hoped to attract concert goers by having hot new artist Alicia Keys on the bill. Although Keys was named on the event's web site and in radio ads for a while, event promoter Morgan Perry said on Monday that Keys would not show and that the schedule is subject to change.
Hall seemed to take the confusion in stride. He says putting together an event this big is an awesome undertaking.
"We've got eight dynamite acts tied up, and that's astounding. We expect this to have some funks since it's the first time this has ever been done," Hall says. "But we have experts handling the logistics so that all of this will go smoothly from here on out."
Another event promoter involved in the Comerica festival, Kevin Brown of Cincinnati, says he has produced festivals like this for years. Shocked that Detroit didn't have one, he wanted to help organize one.
"I was always amazed because at the music festival in Cincinnati, any time artists said, 'Folks from Indianapolis, or Chicago or Cleveland, stand up!' there were a few here and there. But when they said, 'Folks from Detroit, stand up!' it was like the entire stadium was on their feet," Brown says. "And I wondered why don't we have something like that here at the Tigers' stadium -- and here we are."
But Ford's Hall says plans for next year are up in the air.
"We don't know yet; we'll have to wait and see. The success of it dictates that ... but we wanted to give it a go this year."

You can reach Yvonne Wingett at (313) 222-2284 or

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