The 120 Coolest Detroiters

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Detroit has always been and will always be a city that produces.

We produce cars, stars, and tastemakers. The Detroit effect can be felt all across the globe and there are no signs of it slowing down.

Over the next twelve months, we will highlight 120 of the coolest Detroiters ever.

Our criteria was simple. You didn’t have to be born in Detroit (but most are) but you recognized Detroit as your home and you've made a significant contribution to it's community and society.

Some of the people you may know some you may not but trust us, these are some cool people!



Berry Gordy III


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Berry Gordy III (born November 28, 1929), known professionally as Berry Gordy Jr.,is a retired American record executive, record producer, songwriter, film producer and television producer. He is best known as the founder of the Motown record label and its subsidiaries, which was the highest-earning African-American business for decades.



Tyree Guyton


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Tyree Guyton (born August 24, 1955) is an artist from Detroit, Michigan. He is married to Jenenne Whitfield and continues to live in Detroit. Before becoming an artist, Guyton worked as a firefighter and an autoworker and served in the U.S. Army. He studied art at Marygrove College, Wayne State University, and the Center for Creative Studies—now College for Creative Studies. Guyton counts his grandfather, Sam Mackey, and Detroit artist Charles McGee as his greatest influences.




Michael Ilitch Sr.


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Michael Ilitch Sr. (July 20, 1929 – February 10, 2017) was an American entrepreneur, founder and owner of the international fast food franchise Little Caesars Pizza. He owned the Detroit Red Wings of the National Hockey League and Detroit Tigers of Major League Baseball.




Steven Anthony Ballmer


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Steven Anthony Ballmer (March 24, 1956) is an American business magnate and investor who served as the chief executive officer of Microsoft from 2000 to 2014. He is the current owner of the Los Angeles Clippers of the National Basketball Association (NBA). As of November 2022, Bloomberg Billionaires Index estimates his personal wealth at around $79.7 billion, making him the tenth-richest person on Earth.



Juan Atkinstemp-post-image



Juan Atkins (born September 12, 1962), also known as Model 500 and Infiniti, is an American record producer and DJ[4] from Detroit, Michigan. Mixmag has described him as "the original pioneer of Detroit techno." He has been a member of The Belleville Three, Cybotron and Borderland.






Derrick May


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Derrick May (born April 6, 1963), also known as Mayday and Rhythim Is Rhythim, is an American electronic musician from Belleville, Michigan, United States. May is credited with pioneering techno music in the 1980s along with collaborators Juan Atkins and Kevin Saunderson, commonly known as The Belleville Three.






Madonna Louise Ciccone


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Madonna Louise Ciccone (born August 16, 1958) is an American singer, songwriter, and actress. Referred to as the "Queen of Pop", Madonna is noted for her continual reinvention and versatility in music production, songwriting, and visual presentation. She has pushed the boundaries of artistic expression in mainstream music, while maintaining control over every aspect of her career. Her works, which incorporate social, political, sexual, and religious themes, have generated both controversy and critical acclaim. A prominent cultural figure crossing the 20th and 21st centuries, Madonna remains one of the most "well-documented figures of the modern age", with a broad amount of scholarly reviews and literature works on her, as well as an academic mini subdiscipline devoted to her named Madonna studies.






Diana Ross


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Diana Ross (born March 26, 1944) is an American singer and actress. She rose to fame as the lead singer of the vocal group the Supremes, who became Motown's most successful act during the 1960s and one of the world's best-selling girl groups of all time. They remain the best-charting female group in history, with a total of twelve number-one hit singles on the US Billboard Hot 100, including "Where Did Our Love Go", "Baby Love", "Come See About Me", and "Love Child".






Aretha Louise Franklin


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Aretha Louise Franklin (March 25, 1942 – August 16, 2018) was an American singer, songwriter and pianist. Referred to as the "Queen of Soul", she has twice been placed ninth in Rolling Stone's "100 Greatest Artists of All Time". With global sales of over 75 million records, Franklin is one of the world's best-selling music artists.






Ruth Charlotte Ellis


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Ruth Charlotte Ellis (July 23, 1899 – October 5, 2000) was an African-American woman who became widely known as the oldest surviving open lesbian, and LGBT rights activist at the age of 101, her life being celebrated in Yvonne Welbon's documentary film Living With Pride: Ruth C. Ellis.