GA: The point is that you come from a different part of town than these kids who were your friends
M: No, they lived right down the street. I grew up in Pontiac, and it was during the riots and all the black people, the black families were coming into the neighbroughood, and all the white families were freaking out and moving out. That was during the ’60s when all the looting and stuff was going on. We were one of the families that didn’t move.
GA: So this is where your “soul” came from, from Pontiac? Just living in Detroit you obviously have pride for Motown, but it’s got to be more.
M: Well, you see, I went to the Catholic school there. I had to get bused there from the neighborhood I lived in, and most of the kids that lived down the block went to the local public school. So, I’d come home in my uniform, but I didn’t hang out with the girls in my school.
GA: And you sat on their stoop and you did stuff together?
M: Yeah, and they were always playing records, those little portable old 45s that you could carry together like a suitcase; they just stuck them out on their front porch or in their driveways.
GA: And that was your first place to dance?
M: Yeah. And they didn’t have to go in to eat dinner or anything. I thought that was great. I envied them. They didn’t have any rules.
GA: When was the last time you were back?
M: This Thanksgiving. I called my father from Washington where we were shooting the movie and said, “Jellybean’s with me and we’re coming to Detroit, so be ready.” I came home with black pants, a black T-shirt, no jewelry at all and my hair just sort of not combed – that’s pretty conservative. No boots or spiked or anything, and my father spent most of the time looking at me, going, “You always dress like that? Is that a costume?”
GA: What’s your music about?
M: It’s all about escapism. To make people forget about the problems of the world. It’s just to cheer people up. People go out to dance to get away and forget about their problems, like a holiday, and that’s what the music’s about – to get together and forget.