7:31 PM, November 21, 2013
Detroit Free Press Pop Music Writer
The first of the granite plaques — emblazoned with a star and the name of Motown founder Berry Gordy Jr. — was unveiled at a midday ceremony by the Detroit Entertainment Commission, a 10-person advisory board appointed by the Detroit City Council.
“This is a sacred moment for our city,” said commission chairman and longtime Detroit entertainment attorney Gregory Reed.
The commission also released its preliminary list of hometown honorees, heavy on Motown and rock musicians and ranging from sports stars to industrial titans.
Several of those figures were on hand for Thursday’s ceremony at the Virgil Carr Center, including Motown’s Martha Reeves, jazz trumpeter Marcus Belgrave, opera impresario David DiChiera, techno pioneer Eddie Fowlkes, radio veteran Mildred Gaddis and photographer Leni Sinclair. Some deceased nominees were represented by family members and friends, including hip-hop’s J Dilla, whose mother, Maureen (Ma Dukes) Yancey, was on hand.
Among the biggest names on the list were Henry Ford, Aretha Franklin, Rosa Parks, Eminem, Diana Ross and Stevie Wonder.
The plan calls for the granite stars to be situated at relevant landmarks across Detroit: The Gordy star, for instance, would be installed in front of his onetime mansion in the Boston-Edison neighborhood.
Officials also unveiled a smartphone app, built in part by Compuware, that would guide users to landmarks throughout the city and call up multimedia content by scanning a code embedded in the star plaques.
But some loose ends lingered even after Thursday’s 90-minute ceremony, including the project’s timeline and overall funding goals. Commission officials declined to commit on precise deadlines, saying that construction of the star plaques — about $7,500 each — will hinge on corporate sponsorships, grants and app revenue.
That income stream “will determine how many stars we can lay out in a given year,” said commissioner Herman Jenkins.
Honorees may also fund their own stars, via a nonprofit entity set up by the commission.
The City Council must approve each plaque’s sidewalk installation. A scheduled vote on the Gordy star was delayed Thursday morning as the council awaited further engineering and safety reports.
The Gordy plaque — 300 pounds, 10 square feet, in a handsome Missouri Red granite — was crafted by Arnet’s Monuments in Ypsilanti. The company said it has been contracted to produce future Walk to Fame plaques.
The Detroit Entertainment Commission can be contacted online atwww.dec-online.com.
Contact Brian McCollum: 313-223-4450 firstname.lastname@example.org.