Now I’m not usually one for the suit and tie crowd mostly born out of the whole “young adults today” cynicism that I think too many of us up-and-comers are guilty of however, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I was nothing but proud and thankful to be included in the DRIVEN celebration hosted by the Michigan Chronicle at the Garden Theater last week. From the moment I stepped in the door I was acutely aware that this celebration of multicultural achievement was not just another opportunity for industry insiders to pat each other on the back. While the mariachi band serenaded honored guests and brought the heat with a blend of sizzling Latin music and unique spins on such unforgettable tunes as “Friends in Low Places,” the vibe was exhilarating and the ambiance can be described as nothing less than enchanting.
Positive and spirited exchanges permeated the room and dominated the entire evening as the Michigan Chronicle celebrated not only multi-cultural achievement in the automotive industry, but also the innovative spirit of Detroit, the strength and drive unique to the heart of the people, the heart of the city itself.
After an incredibly infectious and rousing performance by the Chrysler Choir, putting their own styling’s atop such hopping tracks as “Happy” and “Lose Yourself” the crowd was pumped and ready to get things underway. The event’s host Roop Rahj kept on point keeping the crowd clapping and cheerfully chuckling, as he not only did a solid job of introducing honorees and keeping the energy flowing like a well-oiled engine, he also took the time to relay heart felt sentiments regarding his bountiful love for the city that he came up in and continues to thrive in.
DRIVEN top honors went to three industry icons who are proven game changers in the automotive space. James H. Colon, Vice President of African American Business Strategy, Toyota – North Americas received the Lifetime Achievement Award; Ron Hall Jr., President and CEO, Bridegwater Interiors, LLC received the Company of the year award, as did Matthew J, Simoncini, President, CEO and Director of Lear Corporation.
But it may have been Simoncini’s brief but humble acceptance speech that presented the most poignant moment of the night. The corporate legend challenged himself as well as his competitors to each adopt a Detroit Public School and put their resources to use and aid DPS in the midst of pressing times. Simoncini exited the stage with a smile after firing shots at corporate executives to “join the winning team.”
Following the awards ceremony, Atlanta super producer Jermaine Dupri came to the stage for the after party, spinning club banger after club banger. Dupri may not be a Detroiter, but he was definitely in tune with where he was and how Detroit gets down, not shying away from hyping the already exuberant crowd, waved their hands in air with unapologetic enthusiasm, driving home DRIVEN’s unofficial message; ‘We are Detroit, we are amazing achievers, and we know something about excellence.’
This being Real Times Media’s first event of the year, I was anxious to see how they would kick off the new year. If DRIVEN is any indication of what’s to come, ladies and gents prepare for one very exciting 2016 and I for one cannot wait to see what’s next.