While Detroit School of Arts, also known as DSA, is new to Detroit Dialogue, the legacy of the all-arts school has existed since 1992.
DSA was the brain-child the first principal, Dr. Denise Davis Cotton. Today, Principal Delois Spryszak continues the legacy.
DSA is Detroit Public Schools Community District’s only arts school with full academic and arts where students major in dance, radio/television, theater, vocal, instrumental band, orchestra, and visual arts. Many great ensembles, vocalists, song writers, visual artists, and dancers have cut their teeth on DSA’s arts programs and are now living their dreams. Though DSA is most well-known for one of their international alumni, Aaliyah, one of hiphop and R&B’s pop stars of the late 90’s, there are several former and current students who are making great strides in the arts world.
Re’Lxuise, a Dreamloud Artist, is an up and coming vocalist and song writer, working with artist like Musiq Soul Child, Ke Ke Wyatt, K.Michelle, and many more, graduated from DSA in 2013. Re’Lxuise, also known as Ra’Vana Stanfield, has hit the R&B circuit with a unique musical style and lyrics which makes her one of the most sought-after new artist. Re’Lxuise’s musical background is the result of her family including her father, Rudolph Stanfield, Jr., who played keyboard for the legendary Aretha Franklin, has worked closely with gospel great Kirk Franklin, has written numerous hit gospel songs and started an award-winning choir in Detroit.
Grammy Award winner, Quentin Dennard graduated from DSA in 1999 as an instrumental major, drums which was his first love, comes naturally because his father plays them professionally. His mother, also a musician, guided him towards the producing aspect of music. In addition, she taught him how to sing. His mother sang on the soul train theme song. His uncle Brazil Dennard his a legend himself around the city of Detroit. Since the fifth grade Quentin loved producing music. His parents constantly gave him new music to discover, this helped to train his ear. Ever since he was a child, picking apart songs came natural to him. He went to Spain elementary, a performing arts middle school in Detroit. Thus he decided to continue his passion at the Detroit School of Arts in 1995. At this time the Detroit School of Arts was still developing it’s brand.
Ackeem Salmon graduated from Detroit School of Arts in 2015 but even prior to graduation, he was creating and selling his art work to people from all over Michigan. Originally from Jamaica, Ackeem came to the United States in search of new opportunities but what he discovered was far beyond his wildest dreams. Detroit’s rich art community embraced this young artist with opened arms not just because of his unique visual artistic abilities, but because of his drive and determination to excel.
Cheryl Heading, former Art teacher at Detroit School of Arts, actually began submitting Ackeem’s work in art competitions, which of course he won. According to Ackeem, he has won approximately 15 awards and competitions, including winning the gold medal in the NAACP ACT-SO competition in Philadelphia for photography in 2015.
“I enter every single competition I can get my hands on,” Salmon said.
Last year, Salmon was the featured artist at the largest African American museum in the country, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. The theme of Salmon’s art work, The Heart of Identity, explores his self-identity and all the people his met from around the world.
Ackeem has been featured in The Detroit News and on Detroit Public Television’s, Detroit Performs while still in high school. In fact, energy drink company, Cintron, hired Salmon to design artwork to be used at their Pink Polo event, an annual fundraiser to benefit breast cancer research, in Cape Town, South Africa.
Salmon currently attends The College for Creative Studies, and has received a one year internship in France at the Paris College of Art, where he fits right in; he studied French for six years, at the Alliance Franҫaise de la Jamaïque, the French embassy in Jamaica.
Salmon’s ultimate dream is to become a world-renowned artist and to work with young urban artists who aspire to display their art work in some of the same venues as he has.