Frankie Ballard may hail from Battle Creek, but he has a deep affinity for Detroit that's led the chart-topping country singer to play this weekend for the local non-profit Humble Design.
"My mom and dad were born in Pontiac and grew up in and around Detroit and some of the suburbs," Ballard, 32, says by phone from Nashville, where he now resides primarily. "And I have a lot of family here. I used to come over and spend a lot of time there. I went to Tigers games as a kid and went over and saw the PIstons play or went over to a concert. So I do feel a strong tie with the city of Detroit."
Humble Design is an organization that helps families transition from homeless shelters into new houses, providing furniture and other amenities. Ballard has watched the city struggle from afar, and he's particularly concerned about talk of downsizing the city and what impact that might be making on its longtime residents.
"Detroit is reinventing itself and there's a future there, I think," Ballard notes. "But it must be a scary feeling for people who were there in the 60s, 70s, 80s, who grew up there, had families there,maybe lived in the same place, the same neighborhood for so long, and things are changing. They're unsure of what their future looks like. And that's scary.
"If nothing else I think these folks (at Humble Design) are helping those folks to realize nobody's gonna get kicked out and it's OK to invest in Detroit and invest in your property and your neighborhood and your home and to invest yourself in Detroit, because it'll come back around. And Detroit will figure out a way to be glorious again. I really feel that."
Ballard, of course, is enjoying glory days of his own thanks to his sophomore album 2011's "Sunshine & Whiskey." The set debuted at No. 5 on Billboard's Top Country Albums chart and launched three No. 1 singles. He'll be riding that momentum into a third album, too, which he recently recorded in El Paso, Texas, and hopes to release during early 2016, with a first single out likely before the end of this year.
"You hope for success. You hope for airplay. You hope for people liking the music -- but you never really know," Ballard says. "Then you spend two years working singles and we had some success, and now we've gotten three No. 1 songs, and it's so amazing to me we were able to accomplish that and you sit back and go, 'God what was I worried about? Everything went so great!'
"It's been an incredible journey. We were on the road the entire time and it's flown by. There were some big ups and big downs, but I think closing the book on the 'Sunshine & Whiskey' album, I could not be any happier and it's allows us to go into the new album with momentum. Things couldn't be better, man."
Frankie Ballard with the Motor City Horns for the Humble Design Gigs For Digs benefit concert
Saturday, Sept. 19, at the Fillmore Detroit, 2115 Woodward Ave. Doors open at 7 p.m.
Tickets are $30 and $25 for general admission, $150 and $100 for VIP packages.
Call 313-951-5451 or visit thefillmoredetroit.com.
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