On June 3 2014, Madonna visited Detroit yesterday in an effort to participate in the rebuilding of the city and to connect with her hometown. During her visit, she spent time at the Detroit Achievement Academy – a public charter primary school, Ponyride – a social impact incubator, the Heidelberg Project, the Downtown Youth Boxing Gym and the Dime Music School.
Here’s what Madonna had to say about the experience:
“Many people doubt that Detroit can come back and think that the challenges are too overwhelming to overcome. But what I witnessed today is the true story of Detroit – a city of innovation, commitment, perseverance, imagination and opportunity. The entrepreneurs, artists, activists, teachers and children I met today left me incredibly inspired. I appreciated every minute of it and look forward to helping make the future of Detroit brighter.”
On February 28 2017, Bay City (Michigan) City Commissioner Christopher Gerard explained to WNEM.com why the signs welcoming visitors into Bay City still do not mention it being the birthplace of Madonna:
“We couldn’t get some commitments from Madonna’s folks and Madonna is a polarizing issue in town surprisingly enough.”
In 2014 the city agreed to update the signs to mention Bay City as Madonna’s birthplace, to both honor Madonna and create more tourism in the city.
Gerard said the city is committed to updating the signs if there is enough interest from the community.
This is a photo of one of the former homes of Madonna’s grandparents in Bay City:
Bay City — make the signs! Every Madonna fan will want their photo taken with the signs. We guarantee you will see a spike in tourism! And Madonna was only kidding when she called you a “smelly little town” — she’s a clown at heart! — Jay
On August 2 2008, Madonna and Nathan Rissman introduced their film, I Am Because We Are at the Traverse City Film Festival in Traverse City, Michigan.
The film was directed by Nathan Rissman, produced by Madonna and Angela Becker, written by Madonna, narrated by Madonna with music by Patrick Leonard.
The 86-minute film focuses on the effects of AIDS on orphaned children living in Malawi.
The event was co-founded by filmmaker, author and fellow Michigan native Michael Moore. Moore told the audience that he was humbled to be able to call Madonna a friend:
“She has such an incredible heart and such a generous spirit, she does so much out of the glare of the lights to make the world a better place.”
Madonna was happy to present her film in her home state:
“It’s great bringing my movie to a place that I feel familiar. Not like the Cannes Film Festival, where nobody’s speaking English, or the Tribeca Film Festival, where no one sits down. There’s something poetic about coming back to the place where I used to come for holidays – camping trips with my dad and stepmother and my very large family.”
On November 13 2001, Madonna’s Drowned World Tour 2001 was released on home video and DVD.
The DVD/VHS release included the concert that was broadcast live on HBO from The Palace of Auburn Hills in Auburn Hills, Michigan on August 26, 2001.
A photo gallery was included as a bonus feature. Like the original airing of the show, the DVD received very good reviews. The photographs used on the DVD packaging were taken by Rosie O’Donnell.
Were you able to see the Drowned World Tour live in person?
On August 26 2001, Madonna Live! Drowned World Tour 2001 was broadcast live on HBO and The Movie Network in Canada from The Palace Of Auburn Hills, Auburn Hills, MI. It was seen by 5.7 million viewers – the network’s third highest rated prime-time concert special since 1997.
The broadcast marked the second time Madonna had selected her hometown as a location to record one of her shows, the first being The Virgin Tour home video/laserdisc release, filmed in 1985 at Cobo Arena in Detroit.
With the Drowned World Tour itinerary not including any dates in Canada, many Canadian fans who purchased tickets for one of the two shows in Detroit were pleasantly surprised when it was announced that the second show would be broadcast live in both countries. Madonna’s previous HBO specials for the Blond Ambition and Girlie Show tours did not receive a live broadcast in Canada, although the latter did air on MuchMusic at a later date.
On July 5 1987, Madonna was interviewed by Jane Pauley on NBC-TV’s Today and caused a controversy when she referred to her hometown of Bay City, Michigan as “a smelly little town” – a comment that enraged the citizens of Bay City. On July 7, Madonna performed at the Pontiac Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan and apologized to 42,000 fans for the comments she made about her hometown during the interview.