It’s a familiar refrain that some of you might have heard. You talk to friends from other cities, Boston, or Cleveland, or Chicago, and when you say you’re from Detroit, an odd mix of pity and disdain arises from your compatriots.
Andrae Townsel (a.ka. “Draetown,”) was “done hearing that mess.”
“Some people will let what they hear about their home discourage them – and I said not in my house. I’m not going to let that happen to me.”
Andrae is as smart as he is musically talented. While his heart is with his hometown of Detroit, he is currently pursuing his doctorate in education administration at Howard Brown University.
That was part of the inspiration behind his recently released music video “City of Gold”. Growing up in the 6 Mile and Southfield neighborhood, the 26-year old Cass Tech graduate took the Grand River bus line almost every day into school and most days out after football practice. Talking to him it’s clear he bleeds Detroit, even though he’s in the “training camp” (as he calls it) of getting his doctorate in D.C.
And it’s not just the music game he’s looking to change.
“I don’t want to just come back and teach in a classroom.. I want to lead the district (Detroit Public Schools) in the right direction. Everything I do is off of a vision I have,” Townsel said. “I have always written a vision statement, a philosophy statement, of what I want to accomplish and how to accomplish it.”
And with the swiftness “City of Gold” was produced, it seems he has the focus to make those visions a reality.
While the song was recorded in July, the video was shot in one day, on one weekend. He enlisted the help of his friend Lee Maloney (a.k.a. “Lawson”) to produce it and there was something about the timing of now, and he didn’t want to waste the opportunity.
“If you’re passionate about doing something positive, you need to have a sense of urgency,” said Townsel.
That doesn’t mean he wasn’t prepared. He’s a firm believer that “there’s a season, time, and place for everything.” He stressed it was important to be patient and to make sure you have the right elements in place before you do something.
Instead of waiting for an outside prompt, he felt, as an artist, it was the right time to spread his message of love for the city — there’s a lot happening here, in all kinds of places, and it’s not just the picture that is popularly portrayed. He clearly understands how much culture we have, from sports, to Faygo, to music and more. But, that’s because he’s one of our own. Even though he’s at school, he’s back most weekends with his family and friends.
His personal mission? Simple. “I want to be back in Detroit. I know Detroit is on its way back and I want to be part of that. I want to be in the game.”