Saxophonist Duane Parham is one of the Motor City’s most beloved jazz artists. He is recognized as an innovator and top performer in Smooth Jazz, R&B and Gospel Music. Born and raised in Detroit, MI, Duane’s latest project, “Motor City Sax Appeal: My Tribute to the Motown Legends” delivers a Mo-Jazz tribute to Motown Records with guest appearances from some of the label’s most legendary performers. Guest appearances by The Four Tops, The Miracles, The Contours, The Original Vandellas, Pat Lewis, Carolyn Crawford, and five time Grammy award winner Michael J. Powell give this CD album an authentic Motown mix that blends wonderfully with Duane’s Mo-Jazz style. Duane, one of the Executive Producers on this project is joined by other talented producers such as Pat Lewis, Carl “Butch” Small and Maurice Whitsett.
As an artist, Duane has amassed several accolades acknowledging his talent and civic contributions. He is the recipient of three Mayoral Proclamations of Achievement from Mayors Coleman A. Young and Dennis W. Archer of Detroit along with Mayor Martha G. Scott of Highland Park, MI for his accomplishments in the development of Music Arts and his outstanding contribution to the progress of both communities.
Duane also received the Spirit of Detroit Award for producing and arranging “Dream Detroit,” a song co-written with the late Detroit Councilwoman Kay Everett. Most recently, Duane was inducted into the “Detroit Legends of Jazz Hall of Fame.” He holds the distinction of being the youngest person to join this elite fraternity at the time of his induction.
Duane takes an active role in contributing to the legacy of Jazz in Detroit with his Saxville Avenue Record label. Saxville has released several productions, including Duane’s recent CD entitled “Martin’s Dream” whereas he has been license by the estate of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to release his music and poetry that includes parts of the original speech that was recorded in Detroit, “I Have A Dream.”
As a performer, Duane Parham has opened for noted Motivational Speakers Les Brown and Iyanla Vanzant, R&B and Soul singers Anita Baker, Martha Reeves, Freda Payne and Spider Turner. Duane has also performed alongside gospel greats Michael Matthews, The Clark Sisters, The legendary Shirley Caesar and Rance Allen.
In July 2010, Duane opened for the legendary George Duke at the 15th Annual Trenton Jazz Festival along with Saxophonist Euge Groove and Guitarist Tim Bowman. Also in July, 2010, Duane opened the Metro Jazz Festival in Warren, Michigan along with fellow jazz saxophonists Nelson Rangell, Mindi Abair and Spyro Gyra.
August 2012, Duane was nominated and voted “Best Horn Player of the Year,” by the Detroit Black Music Award. Also, in the same month Duane received a testimonial resolution and the Spirit of Detroit Award for his documentary DVD production,
“The Unsung Musicians of the Motown Empire.” It’s all about the legendary horn players that played for Motown and their names were never mentioned.
In the same month 2012, Duane extended his voice worldwide as a radio Internet DJ on KATS Radio / www.katsEntertainment.com. Every Sunday 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. E.S.T.
Duane’s talents reach beyond just making music. He has written, produced, directed and performed in the musical drama, “Alone in This World” a play focusing on the strength of family, the perils of drug abuse, and the spiritual uplifting from Gospel and Jazz music in the church.
Along with his many artistic pursuits, Duane still finds time to share his gifts with young people who are looking to develop their musical talents. Duane has taught music at Marygrove College at the Continuing Education Kid’s College Department, where he showcased local talent. He also taught music at St. Ambrose Academy Middle School in Detroit, MI.
True to his gospel roots, Duane serves as a saxophonist at Greater New Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist Church, and formally served at Transforming Love Community Church, for 8 years where he serves as the Minister of Music.
Dr. Mamie Smith is an author, radio talk show host, inspirational speaker, teacher, business woman and musician. She writes on numerous online social media sites, has established her own network “The Unfolding of a Rose.Com” and blog “Open Thought,”(smithmamie.com) which currently sits in the #1 position in Google search engines. Her first book “The Unfolding of a Rose” has helped many people experiencing the loss of a loved one, and the second book “Medicine: A Daily Dose of Spirituality” has just been released. She has already received orders from several readers.
Dr. Smith received a Bachelor of Science Music Degree at Austin Peay State University in Tennessee and Master of Music Education and Doctorate of Education from Wayne State University. Her education has been greatly enhanced by traveling extensively, living among other cultures, and teaching in many states in this country and on Okinawa, Japan.
Her experiences include teaching classes from kindergarten to college level in public school systems, private vocal and piano lessons, and performance as a classical soloist in operas, musicals, churches and special events.
As an author, Dr. Smith writes primarily in the genre of spirituality and as a spiritual teacher and inspirational speaker, has not only extensive knowledge and understanding of biblical writings, but 40 years of putting that knowledge into practice. Years of healing physical, mental, emotional, financial and relationship problems, equips her as an expert in coaching individuals through problems lying beneath the surface of thought.
Membership organizations include Board Member of Educational Arts Society and Jeanne Steely Laitner Association and membership in numerous other organizations including Strathmore’s Who’s Who Worldwide and Belle Isle Conservancy of Detroit, Michigan.
Director of Music & Curriculum Development
Benjamin Pruitt was the Supervisor and Director in the Office of Fine Arts for Detroit Public Schools and has distinguished himself as a music educator and musician since beginning his career. His teaching and performing experiences are extensive.
Pruitt is a graduate of Arkansas Agricultural, Mechanical & Normal College, currently known as the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and Wayne State University in Detroit, MI. He began his career in Magnolia, Arkansas where he conducted award-winning bands for 5 years at Walker and Columbia High Schools. After relocating to Detroit in 1966, he taught music in several middle schools.
Later, he became Head of the Fine Arts Department at Cass Technical High School and directed the music program at Cranbrook Horizons Upward Bound in Bloomfield Hills, MI.
The various symphonic, marching and jazz ensembles under Benjamin Pruitt’s direction have consistently been recognized for excellence locally and nationally:
- The Ford and Cass Tech Concert and Symphonic Bands received excellent and superior ratings at local, state and national festivals.
- Cass Tech Jazz Ensemble and Cass Jazz appeared regularly at the Detroit International Jazz Festival and Michigan Tastefest.
- Cass Jazz was chosen by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra Department of Education to perform for international jazz artists Frank Foster, Benny Golson, Marcus Roberts and Nancy Wilson at Orchestra Hall in Detroit.
As an accomplished musician, Pruitt has toured nationally with Joe Simon Rhythm & Blues Band, directed by internationally acclaimed jazz artist Charles Gabriel. Presently, he leads an 18-piece jazz orchestra called Ben’s Friends which performs regularly in the Detroit area.
Pruitt served as Minister of Music at Plymouth United Church of Christ from 1989 to 2001. He also served as Director of the Detroit Police Department Community Concert Band and the Charles Young American Legion Post Concert and Marching Bands.
Benjamin Pruitt led the Detroit Public Schools All-City High School Marching Band that appeared in the Tournament of Roses Parade Bandfest and the CBS production of Coming Up Roses in southern California in 2002-2002.