Thunder Soul 

Groove is in the heart - How music changed the lives of an unlikely inner-city high school band

click to enlarge 1216996.jpg

Thunder Soul



The Kashmere Stage Band ruled the land way in the ancient days of polyester and 8 tracks; a tight, funky, technically dazzling unit with a sound that could hang with the soulful likes of the Bar-Kays and the Ohio Players. The really incredible part? They were public high school students.

Thunder Soul, was the band's nickname, and the title of this exuberant and heartfelt documentary that chronicles the origins and  2008 reunion of the this marvelous and mostly forgotten ensemble, a group that dominated national competitions, toured the world, and laid down some seriously wicked slabs of vinyl during their peak.  

All of this was the due to the extraordinary talent and dedication of their leader, Conrad "Prof" Johnson, who molded and guided the kids to become better than anyone ever imagined. A jazz musician-turned-teacher in one of Houston's most blighted neighborhoods, Johnson taught classical and jazz at all black Kashmere High school for decades, before becoming hip to the innovations of James Brown. Prof assembled a motley assortment of nerds, thugs and forgotten victims of broken homes, and through love and hard work forged them into something truly exceptional. None of those whose lives he bettered ever forgot it, and 30-plus former members came together to honor him with a special concert while the frail, 92-year-old Johnson could still enjoy it.

The older, grayer players perhaps spend too much time reminiscing and glad handing, rather than explaining how they've grown and what they've achieved since. It's no matter because the beauty of the deep feelings for each other, and the unstoppable power of the music is an undeniable, stone groove.


We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Detroit Metro Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Metro Times Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

Read the Digital Print Issue

December 1, 2021

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In Detroit

© 2021 Detroit Metro Times - Contact Us

Website powered by Foundation