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Amp Fiddler & Lauren Hood, the Music & the People

in Introduction by

Detroit is a place that intersects arts and advocacy often. Dr. Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a Dream’ speech was originally recorded by Milton Henry and released on Motown records. Dudley Randall of Broadside Press provided laureates of the Black community a platform to explore stories of police brutality, racial discrimination, and human rights as a premise and platform for a voice. The talents of Gwendolyn Brooks, Nikki Giovanni, and Haki Madhubuti all were given a national stage from the streets of Detroit’s Broadside Press.


The friendship and love between Amp Fiddler & Lauren Hood carry the tradition on. Amp Fiddler is the musical genius that’s always the coolest person in the room. Born and still residing in the Pershing HS neighborhood Amp travels the world and comes home to Detroit’s Eastside. His unique blend of Funk, Soul, and R & B was crafted through his work with George Clinton and late great brother Bubs Fiddler. His welcoming spirit to encourage creativity provided Slum Village and Detroit’s J Dilla a place to record, learn, and perform hip-hop in the 1990’s. J Dilla who is recognized internationally this February 11 as music’s premiere producer began producing at Amp Fiddler’s home studio.

How Amp Fiddler helped J Dilla start his career

Amp Fiddler shares how his studio was the training ground for J Dilla to learn studio engineering, drum programming, and more. Block away from Pershing HS was a state of the art recording studio that Slum Village first had the chance to record, produce, and create.

Amp Fiddler shares how his studio was the training ground for J Dilla to learn studio engineering, drum programming, and more. Block away from Pershing HS was a state of the art recording studio that Slum Village first had the chance to record, produce, and create.

Lauren Hood is from the music world but passion is for Black people. Detroit westsider is a speaker, thinker, and point of access for many Detroiter’s who feel left out of the ‘New Detroit.’ Years of experience in record promotions, concert planning, and party design led her back to Detroit as stories of her home town’s direction seemed unbalanced. Today, her relationships to thousands of Detroit’s are expanding daily as she is connecting her passion to community advocacy. The racial divide and awareness of internal and external challenges throughout the Black community is the work Hood embraces.

Speaking up on behalf of your People

Lauren Hood shares what and when to act on the call, willingness, and courage to speak up for Black people. Also, having the boldness to loss something to keep your integrity.

Lauren Hood shares what and when to act on the call, willingness, and courage to speak up for Black people. Also, having the boldness to loss something to keep your integrity.

Amp Fiddler Music

in WAE Music by

Detroit based Amp Fiddler is a celebrated soul/funk musician who has shared stages and studios with everyone from Prince and George Clinton to Primal Scream and underground Detroit producer Moodyman. Amp also played a pivotal role in bringing Slum Village to global attention and was a friend and collaborator with their producer, the late J Dilla. His warm, expansive mellifluous music takes stylistic cues from all these encounters, but emerges as earthy, supremely relaxed, and rooted in the funk and soul that Amp feels most connected to. And, as he suggests, it is music for the head as much as food for the heart and soul.

Amp Fiddler’s 1st Show with the Enchantment’s

Amp Fiddler talks about his first professional show at Detroit’s Masonic Temple with the Enchantment.

Amp Fiddler talks about his first professional show at Detroit’s Masonic Temple with the Enchantment.

After learning piano as a child, Fiddler studied music at Oakland and Wayne State Universities, and with the jazz great Harold McKinney. He joined a do-wop outfit, The Enchantments, as a teen, and then in 1983 received his big break when a friend, Bernie Worrell the Parliament/Funkadelic keyboardist passed a tape of his playing to George Clinton. Bernie was leaving the mothership, and Amp ended up replacing him, touring with Clinton and the P-Funk mob for more than a decade. He signed with Elektra and released an album with his brother, Mr. Fiddler, in 1990, but the record proved too eclectic for the label to work out how to sell.

Amp’s low profile through the 1990s can be put down to both raising a son, and a remarkable talent for landing background work on important records. He was asked to sit in on a session for a demo after an acquaintance spotting him walking down a New York street, and when the artist Maxwell was signed, Amp ended up helping him make his acclaimed Urban Hang Suite debut.

His first solo album “Waltz of a Ghettofly” set an impressive benchmark for Amp’s future music to match. With Afrostrut he showed how to follow up with a cult classic, replacing some of Ghettofly’s looser jam-based compositions with tighter, more traditional song forms, and as a consequence his lyrics, which had tended towards the universal but unspecific, became more solidified. “I’m always happy with the songs I write, regardless of what anybody thinks,” he emphasizes, “But I guess we all have something we have to grow towards, and there ‘s always areas for learning. WE all have to do better at something.

Living with George Clinton in 1980’s LA saved Amp Fiddler

Amp Fiddler talks about how George Clinton welcomed him into his LA home to help save his life and keep him creative.

Amp Fiddler talks about how George Clinton welcomed him into his LA home to help save his life and keep him creative.

Not Just Black Business, it’s Good Business: Connection of Bill Ross, Booker T Washington, & Butch Small

in Events by

Last night, Detroit Seafood Market was filled with some of Detroit’s most charismatic, intelligent, and successful civil servants, faith leaders, and entrepreneurs. I joined this mix of stars to honor the legacy of Bill Ross. Mr. Ross was retiring from the post of leading the Booker T Washington Business Association for decades.

The organization was founded by the Peck family. Their initiative built a platform for Black business people to gather, share, learn, and build together in Detroit.

From selling studio time to rappers, till now leading my marketing firm, Mr. Ross has always been a supportive voice of insight and encouragement. I’m still applying lessons he taught me years ago today.

Last night’s event is a contradiction to all negative perceptions about Black business in Detroit. Successful giants of Detroit business like Tony Stovall (Hot Sam’s Clothing – Detroit’s oldest clothing retailer), Alan Young (of Alan Young & Associates CPA), and Linda Davis (of RL Graphics Print & Design) all gathered as Chuck Stokes (Spotlight on the News WXYZ Detroit’s ABC affiliate) emceed the event.

In the shadows of stars, I look up to, were my peers who are now wielders of social influence and industry. Ken Harris (President of the National Business League – which was founded by Booker T Washington), Karinda Washington (Chief of Staff Office of Partnership & Engagement at U.S. Department of Homeland Security), and Donald Webb (of IT Guys Networking & Cyber Security) are people I’ve shared laughs, lessons, and sandwiches with, are now providing opportunities and resources in abundance. The value of the Booker T Washington Business Association connections I made in 2004, has always come to fruition.

Booker T Washington’s perspective towards achieving human rights for Black people in America can be theoretically polarizing throughout the Black community. Years ago I discussed this with my mentor and the leader of the Detroit Nation of Islam Dawud Muhammad. Minister Dawud impressed upon me to honor the work and practicality of Booker T Washington. He urged me to seek understanding in the building of Tuskegee University to gain value in Washington’s legacy.

The semantics of his more conservative and apologist attitude towards racist White Americans should not devalue the gateways to opportunity Booker T Washington developed for Black people in America and the American south.

Tuskegee University began as an agricultural gem that expanded to produce world leaders in medicine, engineering, and design. Washington’s understanding of practical problem solving, accessing needs, and knowing the value is why Tuskegee has been feeding, teaching, and building Alabama since it broke ground. Developing methods of molding bricks from Alabama clay was the foundational method the university was built.

My love for hip-hop relates to the creativity and drive behind finding value in what others won’t and don’t.

As the Regan administration cut funding for arts and music in public school, the advent of the DJ and rapper was created.

Many people look up to Sylvia Robinson (Sugar Hill Records) and Russell Simmons (Def Jam Records) as the prototype for a hip-hop business leader, I look up to Carl ‘Butch’ Small of World One Records.

Butch Small is a world-class drummer and percussionist who has toured the world with George Clinton, the Four Tops, and many more (I called him to receive his blessing to share this, and he’s actually on tour now). Small is also the father of Carlos Small who is DJ Los. In 1988 DJ Los and EZ B released the ‘Untouchable’ record which was the first vinyl I ever remember a Detroit rapper made.

Butch Small saw the interest of his son and the Detroit community in hip-hop. He also knew that Detroit recording studios rejected the art form and looked at the music as a trend and not a culture. The city Motown Records and Berry Gordy built the ‘the Sound of Young America,’ neglected the rhythms and spirit of hip-hop.

Butch Small took his experience of years working with Sylvia Moy, Don Davis, and Norman Whitfield and applied to hip-hop.

World One Records opened a studio on 6 Mile in the heart of Detroit Westside. The architects of Detroit Hip-hop built their sound within those walls. The legends I love like Kaos & Mystro, DJ Los and EZ B, DICE, and Nikki D all crafted their artistry under the guidance of Butch Small. The other Detroit hip-hop artist at the time all followed the formula World One Records built. Merciless Amir, Awesome Dre, Smiley, Black Man & Kid Rock (when he was wearing Adidas jumpsuits and not confederate flag shirts), Detroit’s Most Wanted, and AWOL all were given access to studios, stages, and radio play because of the vision of Butch Small.

Seeing opportunity in the passion, creativity, and potential of others is the link between Bill Ross, Booker T Washington, and Butch Small. We should all look to be gateways for bigger stages, larger crowds, and louder messages for the visions of others. For if Ross, Washington, and Small were afraid of ruining their reputations, not being aligned with purpose, or only gratification generations of families would be experiencing a lesser quality of life.

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