Nov. 17 2010 12:00 AM

Paul J. Miles salutes the state in song


Michigan has certainly taken its share of kicks in recent years. But a new song seeks to embrace the good in the state, not the bad: "We Live in Michigan" by award winning blues musician Paul J. Miles.

“Michigan” is a bit outside the bounds of Miles’ usual work. In contrast to his blues-based tunes, the song is more of a ballad, in the folksy tradition. The song means to offer Michigan a sense of hope amid its struggles, an uplifting beat with a nonpartisan tune. It’s meant to be inspirational — not to point fingers.

“A lot of people have been wanting to kick Detroit in the teeth,” Miles said. “Others have wanted to do the same thing to Michigan. I wanted to help Michigan.”

The song stems from another project Miles has in the works: a musical called “Motown Still Our Town,” to be produced in 2011. It’s something the trained actor and self-described theater buff has wanted to write for some time.

It provides an opportunity, Miles said, to help Detroit. "Motown" will consist of 23 original songs, and will be both produced and staffed locally. Auditions will begin in spring.

Miles described it as a simple story that he hopes will have “profound feedback and meaning” for his audience.

“It’s a story that can go to any city, any culture,” said Miles. “It’s about how we can help each other. It’s a wonderful vibration for people to have.”

For "We Live in Michigan," Miles took the feelings of the musical and broadened them out to reach the whole state. To that end, Miles has done extensive research into many aspects of Michigan, hoping to create a personal melody that anyone can relate to.

“I wanted to let people know we’re not down,” said Miles. “We’re on the move. That’s part of the reasoning of the song. My wish is for this to be part of the healing process.”

The CD release kick-off will be from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday at Everybody Reads Books and Stuff in Lansing, which will serve as the exclusive retail distributor for the CD for the next year. Partial proceeds from CD sales will go to food-related projects in each city where Miles performs: In Lansing, it will be the Greater Lansing Food Bank.

The song will also be available for download online.

Paul J. Miles CD release

p.m. to 6 p.m.  Saturday, Nov. 20 Everybody Reads Books  and Stuff,
2019 E. Michigan Ave.,  Lansing  (517) 346-990