Marsha Music

A Grown Woman's Tales from Detroit

HOME – Welcome to Marsha Music!

Video – Marsha Music, produced for Kresge Literary Arts Fellows, 2012 by Stephen McGhee: 
      I grew up in the musical world of Detroit, and on these pages are stories that I’ve written, true chronicles of music, life and labor – and the lack thereof- in the formerly Motor City.
       Here, you’ll find mature, thoughtful observations of life in Detroit – from a Grown Black Woman – and I was awarded a 2012 Kresge Fellowship in the Literary Arts for my efforts.
       I have had a unique view of America’s economic and musical explosion of the last half of the 20th century. I wasn’t literally born in a record shop, but I might as well have been, growing up as I did, the daughter of a legendary pre-Motown record producer, Joe Von Battle, and working and playing in his records shops during all of my young days.          
I grew up in Highland park,  a “city within the city” of Detroit, during its lush green halcyon days – studying classical music and literature. However,  I spent a good part of my life around my father’s Hastings Street and 12th Street record shops, witness to the intense “street life”, and the excitement of music and life in the tumultuous 1960’s.
 I developed a hyper-awareness of music and became a lover of many genres. My maternal family was steeped in old-time, sanctified church music where the Holy Ghost reigned – and still does. I was immersed in the blues, soul and gospel of my father’s record shops, laboratories of meter and song; places where bluesmen had a “taste”, smoked cigarettes and cut a record or two before long.
I came of age during the British Invasion and the integrated airways of Detroit’s AM radio in the 60’s. The musicality of it all is deep in my bones. 
Me, at Joe's Record Shop; early 60's; brother Darryl in backround, Rev. CL Franklin photo on back wall As the music of my surroundings morphed into my own tastes, I spent my young years loving the Beatles and the new sounds, my teens knee-deep in Motown, Soul and R&B, my twenties in the Album-Rock/FM radio world, and later, I lived the Detroit’s jazz life. Through it all, I’ve had a love and a critical ear for the “Old School” (and sometimes, even, a hankering for Opera).  Today – Signed, Sealed, Saved and Delivered – my ear is turned towards Gospel.
 I’m a witness to the forced relocation of my father’s first store in 1960, at the end of the community of Black Bottom and Hastings St., and later, his business’ final demise in the 67′ Riots.   I’m a witness to the economic contraction that hit Detroit like a tsunami, and its profound effects on urban life – all of these conflagrations from which Detroit has never recovered.
I have seen, in recent years, the revival of  sections of Detroit and the return of suburban sons and daughters to the city and urban life. In addition to my writing on culture and music, I’ve been an activist, labor leader, and speaker – from Birmingham to Bryn Mawr, radio to HBO. Today, I work, pursue Biblical studies and enjoy the ample offerings of the arts, here in Detroit.
Welcome, and please come back to this place where I’ll tell more of my true stories; writing from Detroit in transition, one of the most amazing cities in the world. 
Live from Detroit!
Marsha Music
mlc hart plaza maune



Marsha Music on Facebook –

or email –


Comment or question below:

{Comments meant for my eyes only will not be posted, just let me know}

33 thoughts on “HOME – Welcome to Marsha Music!

  1. Marsha,

    I linked to your Elvis piece. I hope you got my message. Please email me.


    Hairy Larry

  2. I recently came across this blog and I find all the content to be informative, intelligent and most cogent.

  3. Thank you Alan, for visiting Marsha Music and for posting such positive comments.

    I am making every effort to post content that is worthy of your words.

    Keep coming back as I post more about music and Detroit.


  4. Marsha,

    I really enjoyed the Elvis article and I linked to it from my website, Delta Boogie. Please send me an email.


    Hairy Larry

  5. Dear Thinker-woman,

    Your website is intelligent, thought-provoking, and beautiful, like you.

  6. Larry,

    Thank you for stopping in and enjoying the Elvis piece. I’ll email you asap.


  7. Tumerica,

    Thank for the kind words; I hope to live up to them as I continue this sweet work of writing.


  8. You have a fantastic blog!
    Most interesting story. I am a Dutch writer, could you please e mail me?


  9. Hi Marsha,

    just now checking out your blog — thanks a lot! anybody from Detroit knows how important music is, and how great Detroit music can be!!!!

    cheers, -ig

  10. Wow, what a wonderful collection. This is important stuff and I am very glad to have come across it. Marsha, you may remember me from 35 years ago from some classes we attended together. I still have BoBo Jenkins’ photograph on my office wall. I now own a printing company and play a little music from time to time with some 80 year old swing musicians.

  11. I love the blog, Honey Marsha! And I love you and The Thinker face to face. I think he’s saying: “This woman has alot to say!”


  13. Thanks Derrick – I know that must be you! John! Thanks!

  14. Hi Honey Marti! Thanks for your kind words. The Thinker is one of my Favorite Things in the D!

  15. Tomorrow we reposting a portion of your blog post on your father’s record store. What a wonderful history. We think this is a marvelous contribution, we thank you for all your wonderful work.

    The Folk at

  16. Marsha!
    Your writing creates a journey! It’s fresh, exciting and makes me want to know more about your life whose soundtrack was the music of Detroit.

  17. I love the new look of the blog and the ever changing look of its author!

  18. Lynn! Nice website!

  19. Your blog is beautiful!

  20. Thanks; yes I have seen your site and the posting, and I thank you for your attention to Joe Von Battle’s Story.

  21. Great site! I will continue to visit.

  22. this is MASTA TEACHA shizz!!!

  23. Thanks Sista Crown! I appreciate your youthful kudos!

  24. Paul “Hucklebuck” Williams recorded a few songs at John Von Battle’s record shop including Thirtyfive – Thirty (35-30), Hastings Street Bounce, and “The Hucklebuck”.

  25. Enjoyed the quick positive trip through Detroit — good to see there’s a good side! Enjoyed your blog!

  26. I went to Ferris School and my grandmother ran a party store on Hastings Street. I remember Mrs. Ashford…in fact she was my favorite teacher of all time. That was about 1959 or 1960. Could it be the same Mrs. Ashford you speak of? Is she still alive? I recently wrote an article published in The Journal of Multiculturalism in Education and I told a story about her.

    God bless, Frank Bailey

  27. Like your blog.

  28. Thank you.

  29. Sorry for my belated reply. Yes, it’s probably Mrs. Ashford who was widowed and remarried and became Mrs. Ashford-Dash. She passed away a few years ago. I am friends with her daughters; if there is a link to this article I’m sure she’s like to see it. Thank you for your comments.

  30. Ms. Music~

    If not for my love of music, my love of words would make me return to this blog! It’s a wonderful mix of music, poetry, history, love, magic. I was interested any way, then I read your opening paragraph about Elvis. I’ve always loved the Motown artists — didn’t immerse myself, but always thought of them as a singular, changing moment in history. And I find it ever encouraging that music is a leveler of all.

    I am a high school English teacher and found you as I searched for some bit of commentary or a film clip to show my students in relation to Warriors Don’t Cry. It is difficult for them to understand how such things could’ve happened to Melba Patillo and the other kids. I look forward to reading more here and am so glad you’ve taken time to share so much. Thank you. :)

  31. I enjoyed your visit to our class last week.
    THANKS so much!

  32. I enjoyed my visit to College for Creative Studies too, especially our discussion on your projects on Detroit topics. I got as much as I gave, I assure you. Thanks Hilarie! Go to my Marsha Music Facebook page, I have our “class photo”.

  33. Robin,
    Please forgive my delay in posting your lovely words. I appreciate your compliments about my “tales” here on these pages, and how my work as resonated with you. Thank you for taking the time to write, and please come back.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 69 other followers