"Detroit has the best talent pool -- better than anywhere on the planet," says Brian Pastoria. The owner of Harmonie Park Studios
— a recording studio located in the historic entertainment district — knows talent when he sees it.
The studio has worked with P. Diddy (or Puffy, or Diddy, Sean Combs, or whoever he is right now), Eminem, and the UK's The Velvet Hearts. Detroit's own Aretha Franklin recorded "A House is Not a Home," which landed on the So Amazing: An All Star-Tribute to Luther Vandross
album, at the Harmonie Park studio. Brian's brother Mark Pastoria, co-owner of the studio, won a Grammy for his work on the song.
Brian has been running the studio for 12 years. Brian is definitely a businessman: He manages and produces for the studio, and makes sure day-to-day operations run smoothly. Mark is the creative driving force that took Harmonie Park on the ride to success. He is a songwriter, producer and engineer.
At first the brothers worked out of a garage in Greektown, but eventually as their client list grew they moved into their Harmonie Park location in June 1996. The duo spent nearly two years getting business plans and budgeting together before they started the magic that would give Harmonie Park life as we know it today.
The Harmonie Park entertainment district is known for music, night clubs and restaurants. Harmonie Park's legacy dates back to the early 1930s, when it was known as Paradise Valley. It's still a hub for entertainment and arts, and also entrepreneurial businesses like Mezzanine design shop, Spectacles boutique and the studio. (Read more about plans for the district here
"We're very fortunate and proud to be a part of such an incredible music and creative community here in Detroit. Detroit is truly the music capital of the world, and we're privileged to play a small part in our great history," says Brian. More than music
A Grammy is great, but the Pastorias are doing more than making music in Harmonie Park – theirs is a true international multimedia business with a Detroit soul. They've gone global with work in film, new media and commercials, but keep it local with a strong community outreach program, as well.
As you enter the studio, a large poster hangs with all the signatures of each star and producer who has graced the Harmonie Park studio. The large studio space is packed with all kinds of high tech tools used for recording and editing music production, television and post-production work.
Currently, the Pastoria brothers are working with London-based directors Stuart Watts and Dave Crowe on Double Jab Productions
, a multimedia platform company that produces for international TV and new media.They are teaming up with Harmonie Park for help with a documentary on Marvin Gaye, expected to be released in 2009. And beyond
The Harmonie Park guys aren't just making a name for themselves and the city,they are also giving back.
Partners of the recording studio and Bernie Rice, former IBM executive, began an outreach program for teaching youth through music. They call it Edutainment. The goal is to use music to create fun techniques for learning. "Sometimes kids are not learning because there is a block, not because they are not smart," says Brian.
Recently the Harmonie Park Edutainment program reached out and gave kids in Southwest Detroit a voice. In May, 6th and 7th graders from the Academy of the Americas released CDs and DVDs at Compas, the new cultural center located at 8701 W.Vernor in Detroit. The proceeds from the children's work will go to Ecuadorian children and their families.
Harmonie Park Music is doing more than making music to grace the streets of Detroit. They are giving back the best way they know how -- artistically. Teaching the youth to express themselves positively may lead to the future generation of singers, songwriters and producers. You can call it the new Motown.
Dominique McKinney is a recent MSU graduate and has worked with Model D as an intern this summer. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
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Harmonie Park's Command Center
View from Harmonie Park
Mark Pastoria working with Joni Sledge, of Sister Sledge, on the final mix of her upcoming release.Photographs by Marvin Shaouni
Marvin Shaouni is the managing photographer for Metromode & Model D.