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Wayne County Jail. The detention center in Detroit, Michigan. Two o'clock in the afternoon. Sheriff Althea Rene's shift is over. Since 6 in the morning, she's been supervising women detainees awaiting trial. Drug addicts, minor offenders, prostitutes. Althea doesn't love her job. But it gives her a steady income - money that she needs to live on.

Althea's pride and joy: a new sports car. Of course, a Chrysler, from Detroit. In the city of cars, you show what you've got, so one thing is especially important - money. These are Althea's sons Brandon and Steve. As a single mother, she doesn't have much time to play with them. In addition to her job in the jail, Althea has a time-consuming passion ...

She's been playing the flute since she was six. After classical training, she turned to jazz. She had some early successes. Althea dreams of a career as a professional musician. But first of all, there's the day-to-day routine to get through.

Althea Rene: "My day starts at 5 a.m. in the morning. And so, I have to get up, I have to have my kids' clothes laid out for school and then I go to work and have a hectic day, a full day of work, pick them up, come home, then have to make sure they get their homework and do everything. My family have a great support system with my family and they help a lot so that I can go out and play at night."

The Intermezzo Club in downtown Detroit. Althea performs here regularly. It's an "in" meeting place for the rich and beautiful. The people sitting here have "made it". Skin colour doesn't matter. As long as you've got the money.

Althea's Smooth Jazz goes down well. It's easy listening and good background music for conversation. The ideal sound for seeing and being seen.

It wasn't until three decades ago that a Black middle and upper class began emerging. Jerry Capaldi, Althea's manager, has hopes that "his" beautiful flautist can soon bask in fame and riches. Genetically, her chances should be good. After all, her father worked as a musician for the Motown record company thirty years ago, when Black artists from Detroit first stormed the world's charts.

Berry Gordy, inventor of Motown, father of countless Black chart successes in the 60s and 70s.

Hitsville, USA. This is where it all began. The little house on the edge of town became a hotbed of talent and hits. Here, young neighbourhood musicians could make records. The neighbours' kids became the first Black world-famous pop stars.

Diana Ross and the Supremes.

In Berry Gordy's studio, the catchy Motown sound was created. Gordy hit the pulse of the times ... and he had a nose for talent that just walked in. His sister can tell a lot of stories.

Esther Edwards: "He just walked straight back to the studio and he started banging on the piano and then he went over to the drums and then he went to the organ. And I just happened to be in the control room with Berry Gordy, talking about something else and he looked out of the window and he saw this kid and he said, 'Boy, that kid's a wonder.'"

And so the eleven-year-old child prodigy, Steveland Morris Judkins became - Stevie Wonder. It was in this studio that he recorded his first hits.

Yet another star was to learn the ABC's of pop music here: Michael Jackson.

Berry Gordy's apartment was located over the studio. Here, he and the stars worked on the hits and the marketing. As a former assembly line worker at Ford, he proceeded systematically.

Esther Edwards: "Well, this is a thing that he'd learned from being on that assembly line at Ford Motor Company. He said he would see this raw frame come down and - just a car frame - and it would move along and different ones would do different things to it and different parts would be put on to it and then he would get into the car and do something to the upholstery. And when that car went off the line, it was a spanking, brand-new, good-looking product."

Music as a product. This was new for America's Black musicians. The birth of a "commercial" music, as some critics see it. But Gordy and his co-workers were clear on this point: at long last, the original creators of this music - in other words, the Blacks themselves - were earning money with it. And didn't have to watch Elvis and company shovel in the millions with "their" Rhythm'n'Blues and "their" Rock'n'Roll.

Marvin Gaye. The first Black superstar. The girls love him, especially white ones. Motown is booming. The exotic appeal of Black music with a catchy sound is in heavy demand with white record buyers.

In the 60s, Detroit brought out hit after hit, star after star. The Four Tops in a convertible. Early on, Berry Gordy realized, "Cars and music belong together."

Esther Edwards: "I know that that's what they would be sitting around, listening and editing and talking about - it's got to sound good on the car radio."

Hotrods and hot music. "Motown" stands for the Berry Gordy sound but also for the motor capital. The Big Three of the US auto industry are based in Detroit. Today, the music and the cars of the 60s are a cult in the streets of the city.

Car Freak 1: "It's a '73 Nova. It's a small-block B50 motor. It's got two dual quads on it and three '90 carburators. Hudders. It runs pretty good."

Car Freak 2: "Well, it's a 1955 Ford two-door. It's got a two 92 tri-power in it. Three-speed, four-level rear-end. It's lowered two inches in the front, about three and a half in the rear. No door handles. It's a mild custom, shaved hood. All the basic handles and emblems are all off of it. And it's just an old Ford, cruising around here in Michigan."

Car Freak 3: "It's a muscle car. I've always liked muscle cars. The performance, the looks. And it's just me."

Call it "car crazy". But, the car is the history of Detroit. One car in particular: the Model T Ford. With it, the automobile began its triumphant sweep over the American continent. At first, the "Tin Lizzy" was viewed with scepticism then, well-to-do families risked getting into the strange carriage and soon the Model Ts populated the highways. Ford wisely lowered the prices and the "car for the common man" was the hit of the century.

A familiar problem of today also began back then: lack of parking space and plugged-up inner cities.

But the boom didn't last forever. Detroit, which had grown up with the auto industry, suffered most during the crisis of the 70's. The flourishing automotive town became the "Capital City of the Rustbelt".

P-Rock experienced this decline. He knows the dark side of a city that can be as hard as the steel that goes into its cars. "Lady Luck" abandoned Detroit. The face of the city was marked by decay and depression. The proud industrial workers lost their jobs.

A hard, raw, energy-laden music. This too is the Detroit sound. P-Rock is trying his luck in the game called Hit Poker. Big money through music.

P-Rock: "P-Rock comes from P-Funk and it means pure. Basically, out of street lingo, "P" means "pure". Pure cocain, pure heroin, pure whatever: And it come into the slang in the music because you say, "Well, this music's P. That means that it's the pure. It's pure rock, P-Rock."

P-Rock can't make a living with his pure rock alone. In the daytime, he works at the Intermezzo, the bar for the wealthy. Will he ever reach the Intermezzo crowd with his hard sound? Soft is in vogue right now. People are doing well, now that the auto slump is over. They want to enjoy it. "The times, they are a'changin'" ...

How does P-Rock view his city today?

P-Rock: "The city of Detroit - it's all about the automotive industry, it's all about punching the clock and working hard for your money. It's all about having a lot of street smarts to get by. It's all about a diverse music scene - anywhere, like I was saying, it's all that runs the gamut."

Detroit, city of cars and music. Not just Motown grew up here, but also Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone, daughter of an automotive development engineer. Today, everybody has heard of her: Madonna. The big carreer. In Jerry Capaldi's studio, David Lee is working on the P-Rock sound. He's trying a mixture of Funk, Rock and Rap. It can be hard work. You need a little encouragement - and the will to succeed. This is the 27th take of the same piece.

Studio recordings cost money. Jerry Capaldi considers carefully whom he does or doesn't let into his studio. As a producer, he can't afford too many flops. P-Rock got a chance.

The take is a wrap. Everybody is relieved. Jerry has faith in rough P-Rock.

Jerry Capaldi: "I think it goes back to being a blue-collar, smoke-stack city, that everybody here are working people. You know, and there's something about that. I mean, you can look around the country, you can look around the world. Those particular cities where people work for a living seem to generate a tremendous amount of emotions and opinions, strong opinions about things. And I think that that's what is fueling what happens from an expressive and an artistic standpoint."

Music is one thing, selling another. A hundred phone calls a day is nothing unusual for Jerry. Jerry's next appointment. Approval of a commercial for which he has produced the music. A remix of hits by Ben E. King. The customer - what else, in Detroit? - is an auto manufacturer.

Detroit - Car City. Ford, Chrysler, General Motors. The Big Three. All of them have their headquarters here. More than 300,000 Detroiters earn their living in and around the auto industry.

The most up-to-date technology has taken over in the factories. Robot arms replace manpower. The industrial revolution eats its own children. But only factories with the most advanced production methods can remain competitive. Faster and cheaper - that's the motto.

This development began in Detroit with the brilliant idea of a certain Henry Ford. He divided the assembly of an automobile into consecutive steps. Highly specialized workers repeated one unvarying movement. To save time, these workers didn't fetch the parts anymore; instead, the single parts were moved to their workplaces. The assembly line had been invented. And with it, Henry Ford changed the method of work all over the world.

Because of mass production, cars became less expensive and thanks to good salaries, it wasn't long before every Ford worker could could purchase a Model T of his own. America became mobile. In the US today, you can't do anything without a car. It's the American method of transportation. And more than that - alongside the Whopper and the BigMac, the car is an integral part of US culture.

As early as the 1930s, everything revolved around the automobile. The Americans love it so much, that they don't even want to get out to eat. OK, so the Whopper comes to the car. Drive-in, drive-through - everything has to subordinate itself to the automobile.

The automotive society. Where are America's drivers headed in the 21st century? Will they stop to think about the environment, or the fact that the world's oil reserves are going to be used up one day? Or maybe even think about alternative methods of transportation?

Detroit doesn't want to hear about any of that. Michigan's auto manufacturers are going into the next millenium with imaginative new models. Thus, they feel ready to take on world-wide competition. Faster, farther, higher - these Olympic ideals seem to apply especially to Detroit's auto manufacturers. General Motors has just moved its headquarters to the city's tallest building. The Renaissance Center. A declaration of faith in Detroit as a home base.

Matthew Cullen: "Well, I think Detroit ebbs and flows with the auto industry. It has, historically. I think in down times for the auto industry it was bad for Detroit and vice-versa. I think, in more recent years, Detroit is a more diverse economy and so it hasn't been the same way. But I think nonetheless, the Big Three have always been the big drivers in Detroit and I think that continues to this day. I think for that reason it shows the importance of General Motors making a commitment with the Renaissance Center and keeping our headquarters in downtown Detroit, because I think it's very symbolic and very important from an economic standpoint."

The Renaissance Center - rebirth. After long years of crisis, after the ignominious title "Capital of the Rustbelt", things are looking up for Detroit. The Big Three are doing good business and all in all, optimism seems to have returned to the city. With a typically American hands-on attitude, people are pitching in, rebuilding the run-down inner city, creating new jobs and - after work - throwing themselves into life's pleasures. The miracle of Detroit. Good times for music producers too.

Jerry Capaldi is hot on the trail of the new sound that's supposed to bring in the hits and the millions. Berry Gordy's Motown remains his model. Will he and his colleagues succeed in bringing the old splendour back to the shores of Lake Saint Clair, to pick up where the Golden Days of Motown left off?

Jerry Capaldi: "To be brighter than the past - I don't know. To be as bright would be wonderful. And I think we're on that path. I think the technology today available to the young people has allowed for a lot more creativity, because it's not just in small circles or one spot - there are little pockets all over the city, creating music of all types."

Much of the success of Black music can be traced back to a common "seed", a musical style called - Gospel. A mass at Unity Cathedral of Faith, one of four Gospel churches in Detroit. Halleluja, praise the Lord - the message of Gospel. Marcus Divine has been in the Gospel choir since his childhood. He understands the fascination.

Marcus Divine: "Gospel hits you here, you know, in the soul. The lyrics, the melodies, I mean, there's just something about Gospel music that's, you know, unlike any other music. You can listen to just music alone with no words of a Gospel song and you can feel it, so it's a great power in Gospel music."

For many megastars of today, the church was the springboard to success. Whitney Houston is only one example. Marcus Divine also wants to move beyond purely church music. He's written a Gospel musical, which has been successfully performed in New York. God and money - in Gospel, no contradiction at all. The show for the glory of the Lord has everything pop music needs: rhythm, power, melody and, above all, emotion. Soul music.

Marcus Divine: "Soul, the music of the street and the church, deals with the emotion and the emotion is a part of the soul so I agree that they both go hand in hand."

A Black civil rights activist once bitingly remarked, "Soul music is a form of expression for Negroes in Italian suits." Another took the opposite view: "Soul is Black nationalism in pop music." Well, anyway ... The success of Black music and Black musicians has helped normalize the still difficult race relations in the USA. With Motown from Detroit, Afro-Americans penetrated a hitherto white domain.

Jerry Capaldi: "What Motown did for Detroit was give it a confidence and something to live up to. And I think that that is probably the longest shadow cast by Motown."

Althea's waiting for a new Motown. What was the recipe for success?

Althea Rene: "The right talent, the right music and the right timing. And the know-how to get it out there. To be heard and seen."

Despite its success, Motown is not undisputed.

P-Rock: "Well, Motown mostly to me is the music company, you know, of Berry Gordy, and of the sound that they had, which is a sound which was a polished R&B sound, very polished."

Polished, yes - but successful. And that's what brings in the money that everybody wants.

Marcus Divine: "Motown, the word Motown, is going to come back and be big. And one day it's going to win the name back. And that's my job and that's my motive, to bring Motown back to Motown."