City Slang: Poet and singer/songwriter David Blair passes away (updated with links, videos)

We are extremely saddened today to learn that David Blair has passed away. At the time of writing, no confirmed details were available but no foul play is suspected.

Blair was an award winning poet and singer/songwriter. A 2010 Callaloo Fellow and a National Poetry Slam Champion, his books of poetry included the critically acclaimed Moonwalking, an examination of Michael Jackson. Reviewing that book for the Metro Times in 2010, Norene Smith said that, “Detroit poet-musician David Blair's vision of pop icon Michael Jackson isn't the fedora-tipping, sequined kind. It's more about a lonely, abused child trying to fall asleep in a strange place, trembling in fear of the snap of his father's belt.”

Blair’s band the Boyfriends recently released its The Line album.

Watch Blair and the Boyfriends perform live here.

In addition, Blair taught poetry and music classes in Detroit Public Schools, Hannan House Senior Center and the YMCA. He also lectured at universities, colleges and high schools across the country.

He performed on bills with Stevie Wonder and Michael Moore, among others. He performed at venues as eclectic as CBGBs, Detroit's Hart Plaza and Magic Stick and with a string section at the home of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

Blair will be missed by all that knew him and many that didn’t. His spirit will live on through his work, and he’ll never be forgotten. We send our love to Blair’s family and friends.

Here's some of MT's past coverage of Blair:

• Jonathan Cunningham's 2006 profile of Blair just before the opening of Burying the Evidence, a one-man show combining music, theater and spoken word.

• Apparently our first coverage of Blair, a review of his 2001 disc Slaveships and Radiowaves.

• A year later, he was in our pages again as part of an article about the Detroit team competing in a national Slam competition.

• In 2004 we asked a number of performers appearing at Tastefest, Blair among them, to compose  postcards to America.


(Thanks to Carleton Gholz and Ralph Jones for alerting us to this clip.)


Blair puts Emily Dickinson's "Farewell" to Music at Detroit's Institute of Arts from Erik Proulx on Vimeo.

(Thanks to Toby Barlow and Terry Blackhawk for alerting us to this one.)

Update: We heard through Stirling Silver that more 40 folks showed up Monday night at the Miami to plan memorials to the much-loved Blair. Rico Africa, Silver told us, used the phrase "a rolling memorial" for various remembrances, formal and informal, being planned. One will be at Circa 1890 in midtown this Saturday night, a gig Blair was scheduled to play.

Update: Also planned, a Sunday New Orleans jazz funeral parade (bring your percussion instruments to join in) from Martin Luther King and Cass at 1 p.m., headed to First Unitarian Universalist Church for service at 2 p.m.


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