It’s gotten to the point in the semester where students are listening to the same five songs on repeat for weeks on end. With midterms and half-semester classes beginning and ending, schoolwork is packed to the brim. There’s no time to scour the internet for new artists, albums and singles, so the staff here at the Anchor has done the work for you!
It wouldn’t be a Michigan Musicians list without including Hope College alumnus Sufjan Stevens. During his time at Hope, Stevens entered the world of music by joining Holland-based folk band Marzuki. Stevens decided to go solo in 1999 with his debut album “Sun Came,” released in 2000. The native Michigander released the album “Greetings from Michigan, The Great Lake State” as a part of his 50 states project. The 21-part album is filled with Michigan trivia, cities, towns and a dichotomy of light and dark themes.
Josh Kiszka, Jake Kiszka, Samuel Kiszka and Danny Wagner make up the Frankenmuth native rock band Greta Van Fleet. With Led Zeppelin adjacent vocals and climate change advocating lyrics, the band has become extremely popular across the globe since their debut EP “From the Fires,” which they won the Best Rock Album Grammy for in 2019. The band of brothers and best friends began touring the globe and writing new music while their youngest member, Samuel, was just finishing high school. The band strives to bring a hopefulness and pure happiness to rock n’ roll in an attempt to revitalize the genre.
The band formerly known as Dale Earnhart Jr. Jr. (now known as JR JR) formed in the Royal Oak, Michigan basement of lead singer Daniel Zott. Band member Joshua Epstien met Zott amongst the Detroit music scene in the early 2010s. Last year, the band released their first album under their own record label “Love Is EZ” called “Invocations/Conversations.” Their indie pop sound is both familiar and unique, making their sound comparable to that of a mellowed-out Grouplove.
Believe it or not, rap and flautist extraordinaire Lizzo was born in Detroit, making her a Michigander. Lizzo’s message of self love and acceptance has charmed the globe. Her album “Cuz I Love You” shot Lizzo into mainstream musical fame since its release in 2019. The album, though categorically placed into Pop, has a multitude of genres present, including rock, hip hop, R&B and funk. As of February 2020, Lizzo has won three Grammy Awards.
Long before contemporary artists like the ones listed above, Michigan produced a large variety of extremely talented artists. The Queen of Soul herself Aretha Franklin was born in Detroit and was introduced to the music world at the New Bethel Baptist Church. Franklin’s powerful voice and natural talent for uplifting and uniting people was formidable throughout her career and the social politics of her time. Saginaw is the birthplace of Stevie Wonder, who is considered one of the most successful singer-songwriters of all time. Though he started his musical success as a child prodigy, Wonder has established a long lasting career. Winning 25 Grammy awards to date, he is one of the most awarded artists ever.
This is just the tip of the iceberg of all of the wonderful artists that have hailed from the mitten state. For further exploration, click the link below to access a Spotify playlist full of Michigan artists (or groups that originated in Michigan), as well as songs inspired by The Great Lakes State itself.