In the summer of 1992, I was in my friend Andie’s basement working on a tableau of Shakespears Sister’s Stay; just because we relished singing it so much. We would always argue about who would sing that high note in the middle, we practised night and day to be able to reach it. Marcella Detroit houses such an incredibly high vocal timber with so much power behind it; it’s no wonder she has endured 50 years in the music industry. Celebrations like this do not come along everyday; Marcella’s longevity is exceptional – I mean co writing a song with Eric Clapton at 15. I remember being 15 very well, I wanted to run away to Europe and write poetry in fields of long grass; to have been able to do that would have been my dream. I can only imagine how ecstatic Marcella was after Lay Down Sally had been written in addition to its’ tremendous success. It did not stop there for Marcella either not only did she maintain to entertain the world she also uses her platform to speak up against injustice with such graceful tenacity.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY MARCY!!!! Here’s to another 50 years in the music industry.
p.s. See these social media icons right below this note? Those are all Marcella’s socials – I suggest you check it out she is selling collectables from herstory! (Like the three I’ve enclosed below from https://www.marcelladetroit.rocks/shop below)
RMMW: Do you have any artist rituals before writing a new song?
MD: Not really, I guess I have to be in the mood, itching to get a new idea out. I usually like to start with a great title. Once I have a title that really inspires me with lots of content associated to it that I care about, I can write all day.
RMMW: Have you ever been creatively blocked? If yes, how did you overcome it?
MD: Yes there was a time I was creatively blocked, it was in the ’80’s. Nothing I was writing was sounding good to me. I decided to take a creative writing class, not music, but just writing, fiction. It really helped me get out of my rut and I realized not everything has to be perfect. It’s ok to make mistakes and try new things.
RMMW: We all must deal with an ugly inner critic at times, how do you contend with yours?
MD: Oh that’s a good question, lol. Just the other day, the inner critic in me was going crazy and being very dominant, so [you might think I’m nuts!] I said out loud: “JUST LEAVE HER ALONE!!”
RMMW: You’ve written a MASSIVE amount of music over the last 50 years. If you could pick your favourite composition from each decade from the year you began to present — what would those five songs be? And why?
MD: Tough question but I’ll answer it the best I can. From the 70’s without a doubt, “Lay Down Sally”. It was so much fun to write and happened very quickly really. We had no idea it was going to be such a big hit and it was a pleasant surprise.
From the 80’s, aside from my solo album “Marcella” which I’m proud of, I also love a song I cowrote that Al Jarreau recorded called “One Way”. The guy I wrote it with Billie Hughes gave me a cassette of the music. I wrote the lyric and melody on the plane trip back from Nashville where I was doing some session work for someone. Then we got it to Al’s producer, George Duke, who I was doing lots of sessions for and I was asked to come sing my parts with Al in the studio. He was an amazing artist and I was so honored to work with him.
90’s: It’s hard to pick just one song really, of course, I’m very proud of “Stay” and the whole “Hormonally Yours” album with Shakespears Sister but I’m also very proud of my solo album song, “I Believe” because of the meaning of the song, peace and love and all that good stuff 2000’s: I was working on a solo album with a British producer and came up with an idea for a song called “Skin I’m In”. The album never came out but I loved what the song was about: about being happy with the skin you’re in. It will become available for listening and purchasing soon on my new website: www.marcelladetroit.rocks along with many of my songs that were unreleased or are demos of released songs.
2010-2020: I did an album with my then publishers called “Music Sales”, they funded it, which was unprecedented for them. It’s a song called “Good Girl Down”, and it’s about even though I’ve been through a lot in the music business, you can’t keep a good girl down, I keep going for it, because I love it and it’s really a big part of who I am.
The 2020’s well it’s too soon to tell but I LOVE a few of my new songs which will be coming out on an EP or album sometime this year.
RMMW: I’ve noticed many of Maxwell’s posts on your Facebook page. You must be such a proud mama. Did Maxwell inherit his visual artistic abilities from you? Do you paint or draw as well?
MD: We saw Maxwell’s talent when he was about 2. He just was obsessed with drawing, drawing swords, all different kinds, then it was Pokémon characters. And some of his work at a very young age was so skillful and meticulous, and incredibly detailed. He was always in advanced placement art classes growing up so it was only natural that he’d pursue a career in art. Actually my father was and incredibly talented illustrator, he was like Max very precise, loads of detail but he gave it up because he had a young family to support. When I was in school, it was all about art and music. I thought I might end up being a fashion designer and used to spend hours and hours drawing fashion, I went to college for one semester, Art was my major, Music my minor and Sociology was another subject I was interested in. I quit after one semester realizing that music was the most immediately gratifying for me and pursued a career in that. I still draw and I still love fashion and back in 2017 I designed a capsule collection with a friend of mine named Neil Sheriff who has a line in Australia called Hooded Wept. I’d like to do more of that, I feel there is a certain element missing in fashion that I’d like to be part of, at an affordable price.
RMMW: How does your writing process begin; do you write music to lyrics first or lyrics to music or both together?
MD: As I said previously, it usually starts with a title. I have to be inspired by a great title, and a title that is about a subject that I really care about. I find that’s the best place to start for me and I go from there. Once I have a title and know what I want to write about, I go from there. Sometimes a title can actually evoke a melody, it usually has a cadence to it and it comes naturally. Then I flesh out the rest of the song until I’m happy with it.
RMMW: The music industry post Covid is genuinely struggling — what words of inspiration would you give to emerging Singer/Songwriters to ensure their future careers are bountiful?
MD: I really don’t know what to tell new artists, but one thing I can say for sure: DO IT BECAUSE YOU LOVE IT AND CAN’T IMAGINE DOING ANYTHING ELSE. Also, have a back up plan because these days it’s very hard to earn a living from music anymore. Since it’s very uncertain when we can safely return to live in person performances and have to rely on recordings or lifestreams, it’s best to have a back up plan, something else you have to bring you some income. Just keep learning about your craft, try new things, yet be true to yourself. If you’re lucky, you might end up with a publisher who can get your music into films or tv, aside from live shows and merchandise that’s where the money is these days.
RMMW: Knowing what you know now about the music industry; if you had the opportunity to travel back in time and give your 15-year-old younger self some advice, what advice would that be? And why?
MD: Try to be IN THE MOMENT. I’ve had way too many expectations which disallowed me from enjoying where I was at the time. At the same time, that’s what has propelled me to where I am today. I wish I could’ve enjoyed it a bit more so I’d tell myself to practice gratitude and relax a little and enjoy what IS.
RMMW: After a performance, when the specktators have gone home what is your favourite thing to do to relax after being in a space riddled with the frenetic energy received; not only from playing on stage but also from your audience?
MD: Well, you have all that adrenaline coursing through your veins. sometimes it’s great to hang with friends, laugh, let loose, relax, dance, maybe even sing a bit more. we all have our own ways to unwind. I don’t have any one particular thing, just talking and laughing about it is great.
RMMW: In your Forbes interview from 2018 you were asked:
“Would you do anything differently in your career, if you could?” By Oisin Lunny
Your response was: “Perhaps, but I don’t have a time machine, and I can’t go back and change anything. I don’t have many regrets, and I have no time for second-guessing things. If anything, I wish I became an absolute master at one instrument. I play several: guitar, bass, ukulele, harmonica, flute, piano, and drums which I’ve been recently taking lessons for and I love playing them. Drums are so physical, obviously, and playing them really connects me to the heart and soul of whatever song I’m performing and gives me a lot of physical freedom.”
Do you still feel that you wished you’d become a master of one instrument? And with regards to the drums are you still enjoying the emotion that it evokes from you? Through my mind’s eye, I can envision you on the Taiko drums as you are an emotive person, have you ever played them?
MD: Yes I still wish I was a maestro on one instrument. I haven’t really played drums in a while except on some recordings I’ve been doing in my home studio during lockdown. I need to get back into it, I miss playing them. No I’ve never played the taiko drums really, sounds fun though.
RMMW: 50 years of longevity in the music industry is an incredible testament to not only your ability as a Singer/Songwriter/Musician but also a human being who uses their platform to raise awareness of social and environmental issues. If there was one social or environmental issue in your lifetime that you would like to see come to fruition what would it be? And why? (Although somehow I am thinking you may have more than one.)
MD: Ha, oh yeah, I have more than one. But if I had to pick one I’d say EQUALITY. it really irks me that we as humans are actually quite backwards in our thinking and incapable of accepting each other as fellow human beings rather than looking at others at a color, a race or a certain religion. I don’t know if that will ever change until our species evolves in some way bc of a catastrophic event or something like that. The Pandemic hasn’t made us change that much. I wonder what might?
RMMW: As you’ve grown with the music industry its evolution has grown with you — what format do you enjoy listening to your music on the most: on a cassette tape, CD, vinyl, or modern day digital? And why?
MD: Interesting question, I’m not big on spotify, although it can be handy. I don’t like that it doesn’t pay us artists and songwriters properly. I like listening on cd, but especially vinyl. I miss the warmth in music today, everything digital sounds so sterile and piercing to me. I’m sure it’s affecting our hearing and over time we will all need hearing aids!
RMMW: If you had a superpower what would it be?
MD: To be able to offer people the power of peace within. if you have peace within you have no need to create violence and chaos.