David Blair was a friend of mine, especially back when I was living in Michigan. Blair was a fierce soul, a talented crooner, a passionate poet, and a kindred black geek with deeply powerful politics.
What Kinda Black??!
“What interests me about [Jackson’s] life – and about writing about him – is that everything that he is calls to mind a discussion of race, gender, sexuality, poverty, stardom, rags-to-riches and age,” Blair told Between the Lines in 2009. “He’s a very American figure. I don’t think that all that Michael Jackson is could’ve been produced anywhere else in the world but right here.”
Over the weekend, renowned poet, singer and songwriter David Blair was found dead in his apartment. Blair, who was born in New Jersey but lived in Detroit since the 1990s, was a prolific artist. He earned a National Poetry Slam Champion title, performed with Urban Folk Collective and the Boyfriends, and taught poetry and songwriting in Detroit Public Schools. Performances took him throughout the U.S., Russia, Europe and South Africa.
Blair was also a 2010 Callaloo fellow, a 2009 Seattle Haiku Slam champion and the recipient of Seattle’s 2007 BENT Mentor Award for LGBT Writers. He was named best urban folk poet by Detroit’s Metro Times and best folk artist by Real Detroit Weekly.
His first book of poetry, Moonwalking, about the life of [Michael] Jackson, hit book shelves in April 2010. Although a cause of death has not been confirmed, Blair may have suffered heatstroke before he was found by a maid. No foul play is suspected. He was 41 years old.
He also made Emily Dickinson’s “Farewell” an African-American spiritual like Omigod. Here’s a link to the vimeo of it at Detroit’s Institute of Arts. And below is Blair’s performance at the TEDxDetroit fest last Fall.
Blair, buddy, we will miss you sorely…
Be at Peace,
Blair and the Boyfriends