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


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

  • Effort 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

DETROIT - The City of Detroit Office of Arts, Culture, & Entrepreneurship is announcing an exciting songwriting project. This will be a five-month-long 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.

The project will launch at 1:30PM Saturday, May 21 with the Motor City Singers' Space Unplugged: Boa Me Begins at the Dequindre Cut Freight Yard at Dequindre Cut Greenway near the intersection of Wilkins and Orleans streets behind Shed 6 at Eastern Market.

“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. 

“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 a 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.

On Saturday, Motor City Sings will host its first in-person event 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




(Event Curator: Ben Will)

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 stigma from the topics of mental health and suicide prevention within the Black/African American community of Detroit.  Born on Detroit’s east side, Ben has been making art his entire life. Ben immersed himself in music and performance from his early studies of voice and theatre as a Mosaic Singer and Renaissance High School Varsity Chorus member to studying arts and sciences at Cornell University, New York University, University of Detroit Mercy and Wayne State University. As a performer, notable artists Ben has shared the stage with include: la shaun PHOENIX moore, Al Green, Sweet Honey in the Rock, Jonathan McReynolds, Pete Seeger, and Detroit's own Alvin Waddles.  As an International Cultural Ambassador with the US Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs 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.











Co-Host/Co-Producer (La Shaun phoenix Moore)
La Shaun phoenix Moore is a Detroit-based vocalist, spoken word artist, activist, culture creator and wife. Moore’s interdisciplinary work is infused with her love for the city of Detroit, hip-hop, God, social justice and her black momma.  She is currently working on her first memoir exploring the complexities of the Mother Wound and how it is rooted in her immediate family.  Moore is the coach of the Youth Performance Troupe for InsideOut Literary Arts.  She is the recipient of the 2020 and 2021 Creators of Culture Award by CultureSource.