Pontiac festival celebrates progress

A sold-out crowd at the Strand Theatre watches Rutherford and Phat Greasy perform. PHOTO/XAVIER HERSHOVITZ

OU News Bureau

Pontiac artists were greeted to a sold-out crowd in what was a celebration of how far the city has come.

Pontiac hosted its first Music Festival downtown at the Flagstar Strand Theatre on Saturday. Three homegrown acts were prominently featured, as well as the headline group The Spinners. Free tickets available to Pontiac residents were gone the first day, according to Pontiac Mayor Deirdre Waterman.

Deirdre Waterman

“We had waiting lists and people who had been searching for tickets,” Waterman said, “but we put them in the hands of our everyday citizens, elected officials and people who service the city of Pontiac in so many ways every day.”

The event’s purpose was to bring the community together and celebrate the progress Pontiac has made in recent years, she said.

Since 2009, Pontiac had been in state financial oversight, including three emergency managers, and then a transitory advisory board in 2013. In July, the board voted to end Pontiac’s receivership. The state’s Treasury Department agreed, ending what was more than eight years of state oversight.

“This event is what we are naming a unity in the community event,” Waterman said. “This is a night about coming together, uniting and recognizing all the efforts by everyone, including the hard-working citizens, working to bring this community back.”

Three Pontiac acts performed, including singer Melanie Rutherford and her band Phat Greasy.

Rutherford, a Pontiac native, said she was excited to represent the city in what was an event for some of “the best of the best” in the Pontiac music scene.

“It was better than sex,” Rutherford said. “I have been waiting to perform here my whole life. The crowd was surreal.”

Singing is important to Rutherford. She said it is what makes her feel good.

“The stage saves me,” Rutherford said. “It’s the only place I am not afraid of anything, and I am totally free.”

It is dreams of children that made Pontiac School Board President Brenda Carter eager to see the event.

“This inspires our young people,” Carter said, “to see our very own in the spotlight, shows our children they, too, can purse their dreams in the arts.”

This sentiment that Pontiac is on the upswing again was also apparent to Pontiac resident Elmeisha Branner.

“It meant Pontiac is on the rise” Branner said. “I have been here my whole life, 40 years, so I am excited about the things happening in Pontiac.”




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Posted by on Sep 27 2017. Filed under Featured article, Oakland County. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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