Paul W. Smith: Interlochen is a Michigan gem of talent

Paul W. Smith

“Outta’ My Mind on a Monday Moanin’”

Talent is in the air. You can see it, feel it and hear it.

Thanks to Jim Evola and his third generation family business, Evola Music, along with Brian Chung, who grew up in Sterling Heights and has worked his way up to senior vice president of Kawai America Corp., and Jerry Porter, regional sales manager of Kawai, we were able to take my radio listeners into the heart and soul of a Michigan gem: Interlochen Center for the Arts.

What started 90 years ago by Joseph Maddy as the nation’s first music camp, Interlochen now includes visual arts, dance, creative writing, theater, motion picture arts and comparative arts in addition to music. And it’s a big deal.

You can judge a special place like this by those who have passed through these lush and beautiful forest-like grounds, nurtured by its incredible staff, to go on to accomplish much in their chosen fields.

Alums include singer Josh Groban; television actress Felicity Huffman; Tony-winning actress Victoria Clark; Oscar-winning actress Linda Hunt; Breaking Bad producer Vince Gilligan; Game of Thrones writer/produce Bryan Cogman; Grammy Award winner Norah Jones; singer/songwriter Olivia Millerschin and the list goes on.

Among my interviews: William “Bill” Church, whose father, John, taught at the academy for years before him; Detroit native and Interlochen archivist Leo Gillis, who is from a very musical family (Jack White is his brother); and new president, Trey Devey, already looking ahead to the next 100 years of excellence. I can fully understand the importance of this Michigan gem that just might not get the attention it deserves.

Maybe that changes today.

Paul W. Smith is host of The Paul W. Smith Show on WJR-AM (760) from 5:30-9 a.m. Monday-Friday.