City of Detroit Office of Arts, Culture, and Entrepreneurship Detroit Ace Partners with Motor City Sings on Community Songwriting Project



  • Efforts to address the need for improved mental health and suicide prevention among African Americans in Detroit

Detroit ACE is partnering on a new community initiative called Boa Me: A Community Songwriting Project.

The project is a five-month community project produced by Detroit native and culture creator Ben Will and Motor City Sings, a 501©3 nonprofit organization that uses music to remove the stigma from conversations about mental health and suicide prevention within Detroit’s African American communities.

Motor City Sings is currently searching for Detroit-based singer/songwriters, lyricists, and music producers who identify as Black/African American to join our summer artists collective for Boa Me: A Community Songwriting Project. Each artist collective will work with a research team to learn how Black Detroiters have navigated the last two years of the global pandemic. After observing community discussions, each collective will then work together to compose new original music inspired by the research findings.

“Boa Me” is an abbreviation of the West African adinkra symbol BOA ME NA ME MMOA WO, which translates to English as “Help Me, and Let Me Help You.” The symbol encompasses the principles of healthy interdependence, connection, and healing.

All roles will be compensated. The application closes on June 17. Interested applicants can apply and learn more at Questions can be sent to [email protected] Subject Line: BOA ME QUESTION.

The project, originally scheduled for May 21 but canceled due to rain, will launch at 1:30PM Friday, July 1, 2022, features the Motor City Singers' Space Unplugged: Boa Me at the Dequindre Cut Freight Yard at Dequindre Cut Greenway near the intersection of Wilkins and Orleans streets behind Shed 6 at Eastern Market.

“The overall goal of this project is to help Detroiters, (and specifically Black Detroiters) reconnect and create agency while developing new music that encompasses the shared sentiments, stories, and emotions of surviving a global pandemic,” said curator Ben Will.

More than 50% of mental illness goes untreated in America and Black people are 20% more likely to experience mental health challenges, such as depression, suicidal ideation, and post-traumatic stress disorder than other race/ethnic groups, according to the 2019 National Alliance on Mental Illness report, produced with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health.

Founded in 2018, Motor City Sings has an established history of partnering with local artists, community organizations and mental health professionals to creatively and without judgment provide psycho-education and mental health resources to the greater Detroit community.

Rochelle Riley, the city’s director of arts and culture lauded the group for working in a space and with a challenge that sometimes isn’t talked about in Black communities.

“A big part of recognizing all of the culture that exists in Detroit is to remember that much of our creative excellence also can help emotionally, physically, and spiritually,” she said.

The launch concert is the first in-person event for Motor City Sings in nearly two years. The concert will feature acoustic musical performances by several Motor City Singers’ Space favorite artists and special guests. The talent lineup includes Johdi, Kenny Watson, KeeBie Mitchell, Trey Simon, Ben Will, la Shaun Phoenix Moore, Natasha T. Miller, and Charity. This event also will feature the infamous Motor City Singers’ Space audience interaction and provide details on how musical artists, producers, and community members can both volunteer and apply for paid positions to join this musical mental health initiative.

Admission is free, but guests must register to enter the event at 


Founded in 2018, Motor City Sings is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit with an established history of partnering with local artists, community organizations, and mental health professionals to promote positive mental health and remove the stigma from the subject of suicide prevention in the Black/African American community of Detroit through musical performance.

Ben Will is a singer/songwriter/poet, mental health advocate, and cultural curator native to Detroit, MI. He is also the executive director of Motor City Sings, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that utilizes musical performance to remove the stigma from the topics of mental health and suicide prevention within the Black/African American community of Detroit. An alum of the Mosaic Youth Theatre and Renaissance High School Varsity Chorus, Ben produces music and cultural events such as The Motor City Singers’ Space, The HAM Slam, WordPlay, and Boa Me: A Community Songwriting Project. Ben was also recently lauded as the 2022 Motown Mic Spoken Word Artist of the Year.

The Office of Arts, Culture, and Entrepreneurship, established in 2019, oversees the City of Detroit’s investment in the arts. Its missions are to use arts and culture as catalysts for neighborhood growth and improvement and to elevate the City’s creative workforce.