Detroit Federation of Musicians

While the official start to summer is still months away, a touch of the hot season got an early start in Detroit when recently, the theme music for the upcoming movie “Bring Back Summertime” was recorded and performed in the Motor City. A 30-piece orchestra, comprised of Detroit Federation of Musicians (Local 5) members dressed in formal orchestra regalia, was filmed performing the movie’s theme music at the Detroit Opera House.The orchestra will actually appear in the movie, on a stage with a unique summertime backdrop that was specially built for the movie by Keith Jackson, the film’s artistic director.

“I thought what the orchestra did was outstanding,” said George Troia, Jr., Detroit Federation of Musicians president who also played trombone on the project. “I was happy and excited to have the Federation participate, because we don’t get this type of work in Detroit much anymore. We have great musicians here to do any type of musical project, but music scores for films are usually done somewhere else.”

Donnie Lewis, the project’s music supervisor, agrees.

“My job was first to choose the right musicians to contract and perform on this project,” said Lewis, a drummer/percussionist who has played, recorded or toured with such artists as the Dramatics, Aretha Franklin, and the Miracles, “I had many great musicians to choose from because Detroit is still home to many of the world’s best musicians. We may not be able to get the movie industry to film here much anymore, but we can at least show that we can more than handle whatever type of music that’s needed for any film imaginable.”

Lewis said before he chose the musicians, it was important to read and understand the movie’s script, which was written by Jeanne Starr Gater, who serves as the movie’s executive producer. “I was greatly impacted by the script’s strong storyline, which reflected strength and spirituality of how to deal with adverse situations in life,” Lewis said. “When I finished reading the script, I knew that I had to be a part of this film project. I knew the music had to totally reflect the courage and spirituality of what ‘Bring Back Summertime’ represents.”

The “Bring Back Summertime” screenplay has been awarded the Dove Seal of Approval. The film project, which also received a significant incentive award from the Michigan Film Office, depicts the epic story of Jeanne Starr Gater’s journey of dedication, commitment, love and faith in God as she struggled to keep her family together after her husband, Julius Gater, also known as “Dr. J,” is involved in a near-fatal car accident that left him maimed and comatose. It’s been nearly three decades since the accident occurred in metro Detroit, but against dire medical odds, Dr. J survived the accident but was left a paraplegic. Before the accident, he was a brilliant computer scientist, senior systems engineer for the Chrysler Corporation, and served in the U.S. Air Force.

“Bring Back Summertime,” directed by Daniel Love and produced by Detroiter, Delano Glass, will begin principal photography in metro Detroit in late spring, 2016. As for the importance of the music…

“I don’t think I could be more pleased with the unique orchestration of ‘Bring Back Summertime,’” said Gater, who once taught at Cass Tech High School. “The musicality of the 30-piece orchestra sings to your spirit. When I first heard the ethereal sounds coming together in this magnificent piece, it felt like I was knocking at heaven’s door. Kudos to composer Dana Gress and the Detroit Federation of Musicians for making the ‘Bring Back Summertime’ orchestration happen spectacularly.”

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