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Published: Wednesday, 11/16/2011

City weighing honors for famed native musician

BY JANET ROMAKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A section of Silica Drive in Sylvania could become noteworthy in honor of a native son who is a rock-solid local legend.

City officials are talking about adding the name of Chip Davis, creator of Mannheim Steamroller, in honorary fashion on the signs along Silica Drive between Monroe Street and Convent Boulevard.

During Sylvania City Council's meeting last week, Councilman Todd Milner said Mr. Davis has sold more than 40 million records, including 27 million in the Christmas genre, making Mannheim Steamroller one of the top 50 biggest selling musical artists and the biggest selling Christmas artist of all time.

Mr. Davis has produced hundreds of sold-out Mannheim Steamroller concerts around the world, and his American Gramaphone record label stands as one of the most successful independent music franchises in history, according to his Web site.

City and school officials are in preliminary talks about the possibility of hosting an event, perhaps next year, during which the honorary naming of the section of Silica Drive could be unveiled. Officials would like to honor Mr. Davis' parents as well.

Bill Sanford, economic development chief with the city of Sylvania, said a plaque, recognizing Mr. Davis and his musical family, could be erected. Any plans must be worked out with Mr. Davis and his people, Mr. Sanford said.

When city officials talked about honoring Mr. Davis with streets signs a few years ago, Mr. Davis seemed interested, Terry Calek, a spokesman for Mr. Davis, said. "He certainly would be pleased by it."

She said she loves the idea of honoring his parents. "Chip is so grateful and so proud of his parents," she said.

Mr. Davis hasn't forgotten his Sylvania roots. In interviews, he talks about growing up in a small town, and in his tour message this year, Mr. Davis reflects on holiday traditions anchored in Sylvania, where his mother was a church organist. The memories were magical for him, Ms. Calek said.

Sylvania Schools spokesman Nancy Crandell said officials have offered Northview High School's new theater as the venue for the presentation. One of the ideas the school offered to the city is performances by a Chip Davis-era alumni choir and/or the Northview choir, depending on the event's timing.

While everything is still very much preliminary, she said the schools would work with city council to help make the event memorable for Mr. Davis and his family.

Mr. Davis, a 1967 graduate of Sylvania Schools, was one of the inaugural honorees in the Sylvania Academic Excellence Hall of Fame. Ms. Crandell noted that Mr. Davis' father developed the choir program into one of the leading programs in the state during his tenure with Sylvania Schools and his mother was the accompanist.

The choir's signature piece today still is one written by Chip and his father. An alumni choir was organized as a tribute to his father in the late 1990s. Chip came back to sing in that choir for his parents, both of whom are deceased, she said.

Councilman Mark Luetke said while the city is not changing the name of Silica Drive, there could be an honorary designation, such as has been done in other cities, including Toledo.



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