One of the most exciting, yet largely unknown, projects in soul music at the moment is Drew Schultz’s ‘Back to Class’ series of releases, including the wonderful Back To Class album released in 2012. Schultz is a Detroit native, and despite being only a young man, he has become a fixture on the Detroit music scence, as well as touring and playing drums with The Four Tops.
His work has allowed him befriend and collaborate with many Motown legends: Back To Class featured the son of Funk Brother extraordinaire James Jamerson, guitarist Dennis Coffey, as well as the current line-up of the Four Tops. Indeed, the Tops recorded two brilliant songs with Schultz – ‘Crying In A Whisper’ and ‘What I’d Do For You’. How Schultz got the Tops back into the studio is a miracle alone, yet it’s a shame that these singles haven’t reached the mass audience they deserve.
Since then Schultz has released further singles with Detroit musicians, including Funk Brother Eddie Willis and singers Buddy Smith and Thornetta Davis. Now he’s released a new single with the last lead singer of The Miracles Mark Scott. Scott handled the lead vocals for The Miracles for most of the 2000s, until the group disbanded after Bobby Rodgers – an original Miracle – died in 2011. Scott now tours with his Miracles tribute show, and the man possesses a fine tenor and falsetto that Schultz puts to work on this new track, ‘Fairytale’.
Schultz is a lover of the Motown/Funk Brothers sound, and tries hard to recreate that classic soulful sound. To his credit, he does well. Scott sings beautifully throughout; how he manages to sing that high is something of a miracle itself. Schultz’s drums are tight, as is the rest of the rhythm and vocal arrangements; Schultz is clearly a true Motown scholar.
Perhaps the most exciting and interesting thing about Schultz’s ‘Back To Class’ series of releases is that he is donating half of the profits he earns to fund music programmes in Detroit’s public schools. Across America arts funding has been cut as public finances have struggled since the great recession, and it is refreshing to see an upcoming artist looking to help out younger musicians through his work with such recording icons. Detroit, as the first post-industrial city, has struggled since Motown left the city in 1972 for the warmer climate of Los Angeles. Yet it still has so much to offer the world culturally and musically, as Schultz so perfectly demonstrates.