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Clio Express: A Conversation with Susan Whitall

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Susan Whitall was one of a handful of women on staff at the brash, irreverent Creem Magazine in the mid-1970s, the rock journal immortalized in Cameron Crowe’s film “Almost Famous.” In the late ’70s she became one of the first women to edit a national rock magazine when she took over the top editor’s job.

She is the author of “Fever: The Fast Life and Mysterious Death of Little Willie John and the Birth of Soul” (Titan Books, June 2011), a biography of one of the greatest R&B singers to come out of Detroit, a favorite of Marvin Gaye, B.B. King and Aretha Franklin, best friends with Levi Stubbs and Jerry Butler.

“Women of Motown,” numerous feature articles for magazines and newspapers, and liner notes for albums, including the booklet essay in the “Chrome Collection” Spinners box set.

Since the 1980s Susan has been a feature writer for the Detroit News, writing about pop culture, music and radio, often returning to stories about the R&B and soul music that came out of the Motor City.

Joined by jazz writers Lars Bjorn and Jim Gallert and R&B expert S.R. Boland, Susan gives talks on the history of Detroit music. Most recently the foursome were featured speakers in the Jazz Talk Tent at the Detroit International Jazz Festival.

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