From left: Spyder Turner, Pat Lewis, Ken Knox, Lawrence Payton Jr., James Jamerson Jr., Spike DeLeon, Drew Schultz, Melvin Davis, Abdul “Duke” Fakir, Steve Adams, Ronnie McNeir, June Childress-Jones, Dennis Coffe
Modern Drummer contributor Drew Schultz and Motown musical legends recently collaborated on an album to raise funds for the Detroit Public Schools Foundation, via sales from Schultz’s debut album, Back to Class. Before the Four Tops’ performance at the Motor City Casino Soundboard Theater on Thursday, December 13, the musicians presented their first $1,000 donation of proceeds from album sales to the DPS Foundation.
“Motown’s inspiration on Detroit has continued through the generations, and the love of music can be felt in the rhythm of the city,” said Glenda Price, president of the DPS Foundation. “It’s through the generous spirit of people like Drew and the legendary artists who worked on this album that our foundation can continue working to enhance and celebrate the tradition of musical excellence in Detroit schools.”
Schultz’s sixteen-song album, written as a love letter to Detroit soul music, features up-and-coming talent, as well as many of the musical legends with whom Schultz has performed. The Four Tops, members of the Funk Brothers, Ken Knox of Chairmen of the Board, Melvin Davis, Spyder Turner, Dennis Coffey, Lenny Pickett of Saturday Night Live and Tower of Power, James Jamerson Jr., Pat Lewis, Rob Carter, and many others perform on the record
The stage for development of the album was set in the summer of 2009. Falling in love with the Motown sound at a young age, Schultz chose to pursue his dreams and study music at New York University, where he earned the opportunity to intern at Motown’s New York studios with producer Harry Weinger. Around this time, Schultz also began his association with Modern Drummer, penning a feature on Motown drummers Uriel Jones, Benjamin Corbett, and George Rountree. A week prior to beginning his senior year at NYU, Schultz was asked to move to Detroit to tour with the Four Tops as a percussionist, drummer, archivist, and substitute conductor. Schultz also played with such Detroit legends as the Temptations, Aretha Franklin, Martha Reeves, and the Dramatics.
After several years of life on the road, Schultz returned to New York to finish his college degree in 2012 while simultaneously releasing Back to Class on his Pax Productions label. The album revolves around Schultz’s move from New York to Detroit and was produced in an effort to help keep music alive in Detroit by supporting music programs like those funded by the DPS Foundation, including All City Marching Band.