Eminem-produced Michigan Central concert in Detroit to star Diana Ross, Jack White, more

Brian McCollum
8 Min Read

It could be one for the ages: A blockbuster, all-star celebration of Detroit music will bring Diana Ross, Jack White, Big Sean and a host of other top names to the restored Michigan Central train station as the historic site launches its grand reopening for a global audience. 

Eminem and his manager, Paul Rosenberg, are billed as executive producers of the Thursday night show. The concert is spearheaded by Ford Motor Co., which spent nearly $1 billion to renovate the site and unveiled the artist roster Monday morning after weeks of buildup. 

Branded as “Live From Detroit: The Concert at Michigan Central,” the event will stream live on Peacock, then air Sunday on NBC as a prime-time special. 

Eminem, Diana Ross, Jack White and Big Sean

The 90-minute, genre-spanning concert — whose lineup includes hip-hop duo Slum Village, gospel stars Kierra Sheard and the Clark Sisters, techno-house DJ Theo Parrish and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra — will mark the biggest convergence of hometown star power on one Detroit stage in decades.  

The show will also feature visiting artists such as Jelly Roll, Fantasia, Common and Melissa Etheridge performing tributes to the city’s rich music heritage. 

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Additional acts are being booked for the event, sources have told the Detroit Free Press. Monday’s official announcement says the concert will include “surprise special guests.” 

Michigan Central Station reopening:Everything you need to know

Presenters will include Detroit Lions stars and veterans such as Barry Sanders, Jared Goff and Amon-Ra St. Brown, along with comedian Mike Epps and actress Sophia Bush. 

The concert can be watched live at 8:30 p.m. Thursday on WDIV-TV Channel 4 and Peacock, the streaming service operated by NBC Universal, and will be repurposed for a one-hour NBC special airing nationally at 7 p.m. Sunday. 

Six weeks after the NFL draft downtown, the Michigan Central concert is poised to give Detroit another high-profile starring role amid the city’s ongoing renewal.  

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Details were revealed Monday by Ford and Michigan Central after weeks of growing buzz and intrigue about the free event, which will accommodate 15,000 people at Corktown’s Roosevelt Park in front of the restored train station. Tickets have already been distributed.

The concert is a marquee moment for Ford as it unveils the resurrected Michigan Central following a six-year, $950 million rehabilitation of the 13-story depot and its surrounding 30-acre campus just west of downtown Detroit.  

“We wanted to celebrate the reopening of Michigan Central Station in style and make it a night to remember for Detroiters and people watching around the world,” Bill Ford, executive chair of Ford, said in a statement Monday. 

“I am honored and grateful that so many of Detroit’s musical legends, sports heroes, artists and innovators are joining us to celebrate the city we all love and the bright future we are creating together.”   

The streaming and TV production is being led by Jesse Collins Entertainment, a Los Angeles company that has overseen Super Bowl halftime shows, Emmy Awards, BET Honors and other events.  

For Ross, the glittery Motown star who grew up in the bygone Brewster housing project 2 miles northeast of the train station, the Michigan Central show will be the first homecoming performance since 2016.

White, who led the White Stripes to rock glory before success with the Raconteurs and as a solo artist, grew up in southwest Detroit not far from Michigan Central. He last played here in April 2022 — a Masonic Temple two-nighter that included an onstage marriage proposal and wedding with his now-wife, Olivia Jean.

Homegrown hit rapper Big Sean, who kicked off April’s NFL draft with a live set, figured prominently in Ford’s 2018 public festivities when the automaker bought the train station property. 

Those artists and the others announced Monday make up the most notable concentration of name-brand Detroit talent to share a bill in many years — likely going back to the 1960s and the Motortown Revues that assembled chart-topping Motown acts at venues such as the Fox Theatre. 

If Eminem were to perform, it would be the rapper’s first hometown show in nearly a decade, not counting his onstage cameos with touring acts such as Ed Sheeran and 50 Cent. His last headlining stand in Detroit was an August 2014 Comerica Park doubleheader with Rihanna. 

Some of the out-of-town acts are arriving with obvious Detroit connections: R&B star Fantasia, for instance, has been part of Aretha Franklin tributes through the years, including a 2019 Grammy special. And she duetted with the Queen of Soul on the 2007 single “Put You Up on Game.”

Jelly Roll, the Tennessee-bred country-rock-rap phenomenon, has often gushed about his love of Bob Seger and Eminem. (And he’ll presumably be doing some multitasking via private jet the night of the Detroit show, when he’s also scheduled to headline an Iowa music festival.)

The concert stage at the Michigan Central train station in Detroit is seen under construction on Saturday, June 1, 2024.

Monday’s Ford announcement bills the train station event as a showcase of “the spirit and soul of Detroit through an incredible lineup of musical performances, short films, appearances by local leaders, and creators telling stories of innovation and culture from around the city and the region.”  

Michigan Central Station was the tallest train depot in the world when it opened in 1913 and ultimately served 4,000-plus rail passengers daily. It was abandoned in the 1980s and became a global symbol of Detroit decay before its $90 million purchase in 2018 by Ford, which plans to base 2,500 employees on the campus by 2028. 

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Other occupants include startup firms and other ventures, with restaurants and retail space scheduled to roll out in coming months.  

Following Thursday’s concert, Michigan Central will host daily public tours of the restored train station through June 17. Tours will then be available on Fridays and Saturdays through August. 

Contact Detroit Free Press music writer Brian McCollum: 313-223-4450 orbmccollum@freepress.com. 

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