A selected bibliography of Detroit and Detroit music, organized by topic and genre, to begin your deep dive into the legacy of our City’s musical heritage.

Selected Detroit Sound Bibliography

General Detroit

Boyd, Herb. A People’s History of Self-Determination. New York: Amistad Press, 2017.

Conot, Robert E. American Odyssey. New York: Morrow, 1974.

Dunbar, Willis F. and George S. May. Michigan: A History of the Wolverine State, 3rd ed. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1995.

Gavrilovich, Peter and Bill McGraw, editors. The Detroit Almanac: 300 Years of Life in the Motor City. Detroit: Detroit Free Press, 2000.

Georgakas, Dan and Marvin Surkin. Detroit, I Do Mind Dying : A Study in Urban Revolution. Updated ed, South End Press Classics ; 2. Cambridge, Mass.: South End Press, 1998.

Mast, Robert H. Detroit Lives. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1994.

Moon, Elaine Latzman. Untold Tales, Unsung Heroes: An Oral History of Detroit’s African American Community, 1918-1967. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1994.

Poremba, David Lee, editor. Detroit in Its World Setting: A Three Hundred Year Chronology, 1701-2001. Detroit: Wayne State University, 2001.

Retzloff, Tim. “From Storage Box to Computer Screen: Disclosing Artifacts of Queer History in Michigan.” GLQ 7, no. 1 (2001): 153-181.

Sugrue, Thomas J. The Origins of the Urban Crisis Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1996.

Thompson, Heather Ann. Whose Detroit?: Politics, Labor, and Race in a Modern American City. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2001.

Architecture, Landmarks, and Preservation

Austin, Dan. Lost Detroit: Stories Behind the Motor City’s Majestic Ruins. Charleston, S.C.: The History Press, 2010.

Retzloff, Tim. “Historical Directory of Gay & Lesbian Bars in Metro Detroit,” self-published pamphlet, courtesy of author (2010).


Maki, Craig and Keith Cady. Detroit Country Music: Mountaineers, Cowboys, and Rockabillies. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2013.

Dance Music including Detroit Club, House, and Techno Histories

Bailey, Marlon. Butch Queens Up in Pumps: Gender, Performance, and Ballroom Culture in Detroit. University of Michigan Press, 2013.

Dalphond, Denise. “Detroit Players: Wax, Tracks, and Soul in Electronic Music.” PhD diss., Indiana University, 2014.

Gholz, Carleton. “Where the Mix Is Perfect”: Voices from the Post-Motown Soundscape. University of Pittsburgh, 2011.

Mixon, Imani. “Detroit is Techno City, and techno is black,” Metro Times, May 23, 2018.

Sicko, Dan. Techno Rebels: The Renegades of Electronic Funk. 2nd ed. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2010.

Tausig, Ben. “Detroit Techno: Race, Agency, and Electronic Music in Post-Industrial Detroit.” Masters, University of Michigan, 2003.

Vecchiola, Carla. “Detroit’s Rhythmic Resistance: Electronic Music and Community Pride.” Dissertation, University of Michigan, 2006.


Pollard, Deborah Smith. When the Church Becomes Your Party: Contemporary Gospel Music. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2008.

Hip Hop

Gholz, Carleton. “‘Welcome to Tha D.’: Making and Remaking Hip Hop Culture in Post-Motown Detroit.” In Represent Where I’m From: The Greenwood Guide to American Regional Hip Hop, edited by Mickey Hess: Greenwood Press, 2009.

Watkins, S. Craig. Hip Hop Matters : Politics, Pop Culture, and the Struggle for the Soul of a Movement. Boston: Beacon Press, 2005.

Mueller, Gavin. “Looking For the Perfect Beat: Rerouting A Hip-Hop Genealogy Through Electronic Dance Music.” 2006.

Blues, Jazz, Paradise Valley, and beyond

Bjorn, Lars with Jim Gallert. Before Motown: A History of Jazz in Detroit, 1920-1960. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 2001.

Boyd, Herb and Leni Sinclair, editors. Detroit Jazz Who’s Who. Detroit: Jazz Research Institute, 1984.

Cohassey, John. Down on Hastings Street: A study of social and cultural changes in a Detroit community 1941-1955. Thesis (MA): Wayne State University, 1993.

Cohassey, John. Toast of the Town: The Life and Times of Sunnie Wilson. Wayne State University Press, 2005.

Motown / Rhythm & Blues / Soul

Edmonds, Ben. What’s Going On?: Marvin Gaye and the Last Days of the Motown Sound. Edinburgh: Canongate, 2002.

Smith, Suzanne E. Dancing in the Street: Motown and the Cultural Politics of Detroit. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1999.

Whitall, Susan. Women of Motown: An Oral History. New York: Avon Books, 1998.

Whitall, Susan. Fever: Little Willie John’s Fast Life, Mysterious Death and the Birth of Soul. Titan Books, 2011.


Carson, David. Rockin’ Down the Dial: The Detroit Sound of Radio. Royal Oak: Momentum Books, 1999.


Carson, David. Grit, Noise, & Revolution: The Birth of Detroit Rock ‘N’ Roll. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2005.

Rettman, Tony. Why Be Something You’re Not: Detroit Hardcore 1979-1985. Huntington Beach, Calif.: Revelation Records Publishing, 2010.

Schmitt, Jason M. “Like the Last 30 Years Never Happened: Understanding Detroit Rock Music Through Oral History.” Ph.D. dissertation. Bowling Green State University, 2008.

Sinclair, John. It’s All Good: A John Sinclair Reader. London: Headpress, 2008.

Updated Spring 2020