Award-winning Detroit songwriter debuts 'The D' music video

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Detroit — A theme song for Detroit has been in the works since 2013 and on Thursday, it debuted at the Detroit Institute of Arts. 

Allee Willis, a Grammy- and Emmy-winning and nominated songwriter and Detroit native, co-wrote the song with another Detroiter, Andrae Alexander.  

"The D" a theme song for Detroit was presented at the Detroit Institute of Arts on Thursday by Allee Willis.

In 1995, Willis was nominated for an Emmy for her #1 hit, "I'll Be There for You", the theme from "Friends," one of the best-selling television themes of all time. She also co-wrote the Tony- and Grammy-winning Broadway musical, "The Color Purple."

Willis debuted a micro-documentary Thursday, which she funded.  The documentary is six minutes long; a shorter radio version followed. 

The video took three and a half years to complete and had more than 5,000 tracks of vocals and instrumentals and more than 1,000 hours of footage. 

"The world should see what a happy city we live in," Willis said. "We worked on this every single day since 2013. To be honest, I'm relieved it's over."

Singers and others from Detroit took part in producing including, Martha Reeves; Lily Tomlin; Pam and Joyce Vincent; and Leon Ware. 

"I love it," said DIA director Salvador Salort-Pons. "It was fantastic and I'm happy Allee is here. She is a powerful force and it's great to have her back in the city." 

Before the video debuted, a message scrolled the Detroit Film Theater movie screen: "Unhampered by anything that hit them before — threats of bankruptcy, notices of water being shut off, and much of the world counting on them for decades, thousands of Detroiters rose in a massive choir of pride, joy and funkiness in evidence that the soul has never left the Motor City and the beat without question goes on." . 

"We thought it was excellent. It hit your heart right away," said Ilene Pharr of Detroit. "It was playful and happy with a great beat."

"The D" party followed with some 300 guests, who were asked to make paper plate portraits to add to a Detroit wall presentation. 

Guests who attended "The D" after party were asked to make paper plate portraits to add to a Detroit art wall at the Detroit Institute of Arts. 

Twitter: @SarahRahal_