Title Track, a nonprofit dedicated to clean water, racial equality and youth empowerment, will host a launch party at MusicTown Detroit featuring local artists and speakers, including Seth Bernard; Audra Kubat; Juuni, aka Wayne Ramocan; Vespre; Amber Hasan; Nicole Lindsey and Baldomero Gonzales.
“It gives me great joy to have this Title Track launch party in Detroit where the roots of resistance run deep and the fruits of community resilience are delicious,” said Bernard, a Michigan singer-songwriter and activist who launched Title Track on Earth Day. “This bill is populated with artists, activists, organizers and changemakers, and we’re going to make a joyful noise bringing this new organization into the community.”
Through Title Track, Bernard offers a broad set of programming based on his lifetime of music making, community organizing and advocacy for the environment and social justice.
He’s helping the nonprofit lead a Clean Water Campaign for Michigan, sponsoring RiverQuest canoe trips on the Flint and Saginaw Rivers for Flint youth and hosting the first annual Earthwork Detroit Music Festival as well as the long-running Earthwork Harvest Gathering.
Saturday’s launch party will echo those causes and creative endeavors while spotlighting emerging indie folk, R&B, soul, pop and world-inspired sounds from the Motor City’s up-and-coming artists.
“Detroit is one of the greatest cities in the world. Home of Aretha, Dilla and Grace Lee Boggs. Epicenter of urban farmers, culture creators and movement builders,” Bernard said. “A soul that can’t be commodified, gentrified, disassociated or appropriated. Detroit is the city of tomorrow.”
Here’s a closer look at some of the artists who will be performing at Title Track’s Detroit launch party:
As a composer, performer and educator, Audra Kubat has earned a well-deserved place in the community as a resource for empowerment through songwriting and music.
For her set, the award-winning Detroit singer-songwriter will share her mesmerizing indie folk and pull ethereal tracks from her six-album catalog.
“I want to play a song called ‘Oh Mother,’ it’s an homage to the earth and a callout, or plea, to care for her and understand her,” Kubat said. “This song is important in the framework of this project that Seth has begun, and I want all my songs to be connected to that principle, that idea that we need to be stewards of this land and each other.”
Originally from Detroit, Kubat started writing music on the piano at age eight and later put words to music as a teenager. She also taught herself how to play guitar and performed in local coffee houses before forming Stunning Amazon in 1999.
From 2000 to 2006, Kubat released five indie folk albums, including “Elixir,” “Million Year Old Sand” and “Since I Fell in Love with the Music.” Her latest album, 2016’s “Mended Vessel,” captures beautifully-woven sonic vignettes of people’s everyday life experiences.
Kubat’s currently working on her seventh album, which features painfully real tracks about her inner thoughts and life experiences. She’s carefully crafting a new batch of songs that push more toward those deep reflections.
“There’s a lot of great people playing on it, and it’s going to be a bigger album in some ways production-wise,” Kubat said. “I’m still honoring the voice, it’s going to be at the forefront of all the tracks and high the mix. I like the vocals to really run the songs.”
Kubat also believes in building a strong sense of community through music. Kubat teaches songwriting at the Detroit Institute of Music Education (DIME) and volunteers with the InsideOut Literary Arts Project, a local arts organization that places artists in classrooms to teach and inspire students.
For another community-based project, Kubat and several volunteers are currently transforming an abandoned house in Detroit’s Goldberg neighborhood into a new music space. Known as the Detroit House of Music, the space will provide music lessons for youth, house traveling artists and musicians and host intimate shows.
“We really want to focus on that area and model for other people the way to micro-connect,” said Kubat, who plans to host a local fundraiser show for the Detroit House of Music this summer. “Lots of neighborhoods have houses that could be turned into places for communities to come together.”
Juuni – Wayne Ramocan
Detroit-based rhythmist, Juuni, aka Wayne Ramocan, uses analog and digital instruments to create an eclectic and hypnotic blend of soul and electronic music.
During his launch party set, Juuni will debut “new material that was made during the recent hibernation,” perform with Vespre, aka Kaylan Waterman, and share his insights as a guest speaker.
“I believe in water equity and youth and maintaining the health of them, and these concepts fuel creativity in combinations with time and persistence,” said Juuni, who also serves on Title Track’s founding board as a secretary and supports the nonprofit’s growing work in Detroit. “My affinity with water comes from the first home in the Caribbean Sea with its healing salt waters.”
Juuni attributes his “sonic identity” to the Junkanoo (or Caribbean) celebrations of his ancestors while mentor Gayelynn McKinney, a legendary Detroit drummer, helped refine his rhythm. He sought additional inspiration from neo soul alternative hip-hop collective The Soulquarians and hip-hop duo The Neptunes and gravitated to a New Orleans-style sound with the Gabriel Bass Band.
In 2014, the Turkmenistan U.S. Embassy and State Department invited Juuni and Detroit lyricist Mahogany Jones to serve as hip-hop cultural ambassadors. Together, they toured Ashgabat, Dashagouz and Turkmenabat while leading workshops on rhythm and elements of hip-hop.
That insightful musical experience led Juuni to form an electronic soul collective in southwest Detroit called ONEFREQ with Trey Priest (guitar, talkbox), Rodderick Gaston (bass), Nuntheless (keys, production) and Omar Aragones (voice, vibe).
In April, ONEFREQ released their latest single, “Home,” a two-minute electronic, rhythmic and funk-filled journey surrounded by Aragones’ soulful, inviting voice.
“We bring our frequencies – our heritage, influences, knowledge – to create one sound,” Juuni said. “ONEFREQ was founded in a southwest home adjacent to Clark Park, and we find inspiration from the concept of ‘Home.’”
Outside of ONEFREQ, Juuni works with D.Cipher, a music mastermind collective that supports Detroit artists and the local music economy, and hosts Live Ciphers to build camaraderie between musicians and other people who are attracted to an authentic culture.
“We bring to life highly visible spaces with an authentic culture at the core – our gatherings serve as the intersection of dialects, generations, expressions,” Juuni said. “D.Cipher is driven by the elements of hip-hop – knowledge, DJ, emcee, graffiti, breaking – especially knowledge and over-standing.”
As for other music projects, Juuni collaborates with emcees, vocalists and spoken word artists on new material. He’s planning to drop several ‘90s-style maxi singles later this spring and summer.
Vespre – Kaylan Waterman
For Vespre, her chillwave, trip-hop and soul gaze music beautifully represents the fleeting moments between day and night. Her artist moniker fittingly means “late evening” or “evensong” and foreshadows her incredible sonic moments to come.
Originally from Detroit, Vespre, aka Kaylan Waterman, grew up immersed in an eclectic mix of artists and genres, thanks to her father’s longtime enjoyment of music and stint as a DJ.
“I grew up listening to gospel at church, techno and jazz at home, and soul and R&B across fences and backyards in my neighborhood on the city’s west side,” she said. “Among so many others, I’ve been inspired by Ella Fitzgerald, Sade and Paris Grey, one of the most iconic vocalists from Detroit’s techno and house era.”
Vespre will draw from those musical influences during her intimate launch party set and feature fellow vocalist and friend Asya Izme. Together, they will perform Vespre originals as well as a couple of covers.
“As a Title Track board member, I’m excited to share my talents to help promote our cause,” Vespre said. “I believe so deeply in the tenets of our brand-new nonprofit – clean water, racial equality and youth empowerment.”
Vespre also lends her Michigan-based artistic support to an upcoming “Pure Sounds of Michigan” album, which will drop May 22 to coincide with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ State Park Centennial celebration.
She produced the album through Detroit’s Assemble Sound and collaborated with Blair French, executive producer, and Eddie Logix, engineer and producer. “Pure Sounds of Michigan” will feature 10 emerging artists who created ambient tracks mixed with raw field recordings captured by French and Logix at Michigan’s state parks.
“The finished product is a beautiful encapsulation of the sounds of our incredible state,” she said. “Managing this project was a huge honor, and I’m so excited for the world to hear the full project on May 22.”
Vespre also continues to write and record new music as a follow-up to last year’s single, “Lovers,” an infectious ‘80s-fueled pop gem that channels Whitney Houston’s early creative energy and flair.
“Lovers is about learning for the first time that life is more cyclical than linear,” she said. “That we are in and out of love, and there is just as much to learn from endings as there is from beginnings.”
Title Track Detroit launch party featuring Seth Bernard, Audra Kubat, Juuni and Vespre
7 p.m. Saturday
2301 Woodward Ave. in Detroit
Suggested donation: $15