During a summer in the early 1990s, a freighter laden with shipments from northeast Asia pulls into port in Detroit, Michigan. The port authority, which oversees over 17 million tons of cargo per year, has just received a shipment it did not expect — a stowaway, hidden within the thousands of pallets and wooden crates.
Lawrence Mitchell-Matthews’ great-great-great-grandfather sang African spirituals.
He was a farmer, a sharecropper and a pastor. He would gather the family together and make everyone sit down before leading the songs. The group sing-alongs were a time for family and God. Now when Matthews sings spirituals, he feels a loving connection to his past.
The Temptations and the Four Tops, reigning kings of Motown music, will light up the stage at 8:15 p.m. tonight in the Amphitheater with their legendary hits, harmonies and a decades-old competition.
“We always push each other to do better — the Temptations put another song or another few songs into the show, and then we’ll do one,” said Lawrence Payton Jr., member of the Four Tops and son of an original Top, Lawrence Payton. “We feed off each other like that, and it really comes out good for the fans, because we’re always pushing envelopes.”
Tonight is not the first time the groups have been to Chautauqua, Payton Jr. said. They look forward to the warm welcome and vibrant energy they experienced on their last trip to the Institution.