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Positive Vibrations HeartBeat Award: Detroit Brooks

When Detroit Brooks walks through a door—of a church, a club, a coffeehouse—he’s greeted with smiles, hugs, handshakes and kisses. Though the New Orleans native is renowned as a fine guitarist, banjo player, vocalist and composer, Brooks also boasts a reputation for being just a really nice guy. When asked if he has any enemies, he humorously answers, “I don’t seek ’em,” and quickly adds, “I don’t know anybody who has or should have anything against me—if I done anybody wrong, I’m available to apologize to them.”

Brooks, 65, grew up in a musical family with a foundation in gospel music—he and his siblings all sang in church. In the secular music world, of which he is also a part, his best-known relations are his sister, the late vocalist Juanita and brother bassist Mark Brooks.

Primarily heard performing both traditional and modern jazz, Brooks recorded with such diverse artists as pianist/vocalist Eddie Bo and, along with clarinetist Michael White, trumpeter Wynton Marsalis. In 2010, he released an album as leader, On My Way Back Home, that was filled with guest artists. Organ trios are a Brooks specialty as he often gets the call for gigs with two kings of the B-3, Dr. Lonnie Smith and Ike Stubblefield. Brooks’ very rhythmic guitar style is reminiscent of his personality—laid-back, warm and solid—and often backs up major New Orleans modern jazz men including saxophonist Donald Harrison Jr. and drummer Herlin Riley.

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