1915. It was America's Gilded Age, and the Motor City was a boomtown. Detroit's population would double between 1910 and 1920 to almost a million city dwellers, a pace matched by the speed of Henry Ford's new moving assembly belts in its Model T factories. If Detroit was becoming, as out-of-towners would remark, "The Paris of the Midwest," the Majestic Theater was Detroit's own Theatre des Varietes. With 1,651 seats, it was the largest movie theatre the world had yet seen. And the Majestic quickly took on a haunted myth, of sorts: the dogged rumor that Harry Houdini performed his last sleights of hand on its stage before passing away in 1926. It was just hearsay; he performed a later show at the city's Garrick Theatre before collapsing. But the truth is, the Majestic has always been the stuff of legend.

The best buildings in Detroit are Art Deco, designed in the architectural style that symbolized the good times leading up to the Roaring Twenties. Its bold colors and brash designs eschewed reservation for modernity. The Guardian building. The Fisher Theatre. The Majestic is one of those, and its enormous metal paneled Art Deco façade is the largest in this area. Like Detroit, it's lived many lives: awe-inspiring movie theatre and stage, place of worship, photographic studio, abandoned building. And in the spirit of this city's modern renaissance, the Majestic complex is now an overflowing venue of three concert stages, bowling alley, pizza parlor, restaurant deck, bars, sit-down eatery and billiards. It never sought to be hip, or cool, or purposefully different, instead relying on the musicians, and the kids who love them, to keep it that way.

By that token, British-born singer-songwriter Holly Golightly is the perfect Majestic muse. She's fallen in and out of vogue, grown from punk to a peculiarly witchy alt-country. With her partner, Lawyer Dave, they together now are Holly Golightly and the Brokeoffs. She plays guitars and sings a lot; he plays the guitar with his hands, the drums with his feet, and sings a little, too. Their sound hearkens back to backyard porches in the Deep South. It's a style at home in Detroit, which opened its arms to millions of Southern folk who fled north for factory work. Their songs are full of the devil and open roads and drink; music for outlaws between bank heists and getaways.

For 20 years, Holly has lived in America, in the South, which she says feels most like home. She trains horses. She keeps dogs. She plays music, quietly. Neighbors, horse-breeders, shop-owners; none of them know her double-life, singing in once-smoky bars and concert halls to grown-up music nerds and young kids half her age. When I first see Holly Golightly, this indie rock legend, she's congested and sick with bronchitis, lugging her own equipment out of the minivan they drive to shows.

It's dark inside of the Majestic Theatre. That enormous carved ceiling, the color of ivory, glows a little. It's so quiet, until they begin to play. The song is called "Devil Do," and a single camera circles the duo, huddling in the center of the theatre. Holly's voice is thin this evening, strained, as she sings the chorus, "Ain't nobody gonna love ya like the devil do." Lawyer Dave chimes in louder, helping her carry the tune. She concentrates on her instrument, slipping her fingers up and down the neck of the guitar, the way she's practiced since long ago. The sound circles us in the dark as we watch from wings; us and a century's memories of old songs and shows and players.

- Ashley C. Woods
The Majestic theatre, designed by C. Howard Crane, opened on April 1, 1915. The theatre originally seated 1,651 people (at the time the largest theatre in the world built for the purpose of showing movies, and the facade was designed in an arcaded Italian style. In 1934, the front 35 feet of the theatre were removed when Woodward Avenue was widened to its present size. The entire facade was redesigned into its current striking Art Deco motif. The theatre now boasts the largest enameled metal panel Art Deco facade in the Detroit metropolitan region.

The theatre eventually closed, and the building was used as a church for a time, and later as a photographic studio. It lay vacant for ten years. The present owner purchased the building in 1984.

From majesticdetroit.com/history

Today the Majestic Theatre exists as one of the most prominent concert venues in all of Detroit.