Flames Favorite Record Store: 21 Years of Transforming Lives in Detroit Through Music, Poetry and Inclusivity

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Denille Reid

James Carr showing pictures and flyer inside his record store in Detroit.

In the heart of Midtown, Detroit, sits a store committed to uplifting the lives of Detroiters with disabilities through the power of music and poetry. Flames Favorite Record Store was brought to life 21 years ago by James Carr, a former Child Development Specialist in the city of Detroit.

Originally built as a resale shop, Flames Favorites Record Store underwent a pivotal transformation two years into its operation. Recognizing an opportunity to make a substantial impact on the community, Carr redirected the store’s focus toward music, specifically tailored to meet the needs of individuals with disabilities in Detroit.

In 2006, Flames Favorite Record Store took a pioneering step by hosting its inaugural Diversity Awareness through Music and Poetry (D.A.M.P) concert. What started with a modest gathering of five attendees has become a much bigger event, drawing more than 200 attendees.

Carr was inspired after seeing the popularity of the television talent show “American Idol.” In the spirit of inclusivity, he pondered, “If they can do it, why can’t we?” Thus, the idea of a competition for individuals with disabilities was born, allowing them to showcase their musical prowess through songs, raps  and spoken word performances. Carr’s belief in the talent within the Detroit community spurred the creation of an annual competition that has now spanned over 15 years.

Carr poses with some of the competitors from Flames Favorites singing competition.

“We usually have ties for every place, so everyone gets a little something,” Carr explained, emphasizing the sense of community and camaraderie that has become synonymous with the competition. In addition to the recognition and applause, cash prizes are awarded to participants who secure the coveted first through third places.

Flames Favorite has become more than a place to buy records; it’s a spot that has touched the lives of many in Detroit. 

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