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  • Writer's pictureJOHN OSLER'S UPBEAT Admin



Grit has recently caused a stir in education and psychology ever since Angela Duckworth, a psychology professor at the University of Pennsylvania began to point out that grit can be developed and is as important as IQ and talent for predicting educational success. She has shown that those who are given a chance to work through setbacks and persevere will surpass the achievements of those who lack this opportunity..Her latest book is Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. Her research has shown that grit is a learnable trait for all children and should  be an essential ingredient in every child’s education.

Grit is egalitarian, The development of grit does not rely on your background, and for many grit appears to be a an  engine of social mobility.

Angela Duckworth’s Ted talks have been viewed over eight million times.


“Grit in psychology is defined as a positive, non-cognitive trait based on an individual’s passion for a particular long-term goal or end state, coupled with a powerful motivation to achieve their respective objective. This perseverance of effort promotes the overcoming of obstacles or challenges that lie within a gritty individual’s path to accomplishment, and serves as a driving force in achievement realization.”


Grit is not getting discouraged when setbacks occur. It is the ability to keep getting up and then getting up again. It is getting on and getting on. It is knowing that hard work is going to be required and continuing on.  It is finishing what you start. Grit can sometimes be coarse but in the end it is very sweet.


There are gritty surfaces where ever you look in the city of Detroit. It is a product of a good supply of slush, ice and snow in the winter and construction in the summer. Beyond the grit that shows is the grit the occupants of the city have to tolerate and deal with.


Detroit and jazz are both often described as hard driving and gritty.  This is a good thing according to most fans of the Motor City. We tend to take pride in the perseverance of those who have hung in there in the bad times and the good times.


The Dirty Dog has been privileged to  present the outstanding jazz bassist Kyle Eastwood and  his band. Kyle has shown the results of having a gritty hard working dad and putting in serious time with his stand up bass. His dad Clint is a pretty good jazz pianist and together they have written scores for his movies. Clint Eastwood has had a pretty good career acting  gritty.



I have always admired people who have grit. They are more courageous, brave, plucky, dogged, resolute, determined, feisty, gutsy and tenacious than I could ever be. They are not  gritty like Clint Eastwood the actor but like Clint and Kyle Eastwood the jazz musicians and like Clint the film director. Playing jazz is not the easiest job. It is not for the timid and it takes hard work and the ability to identify and correct mistakes over and over again. In Detroit I have watched older musicians give younger players a chance to fail and if they did, they were encouraged to try again. Character was built into the young artists one lesson at a time.

For decades Detroiters have been buoyed up by the stream of artists who have kept our spirit and blood moving. Maybe it is because there has been  a constant source of opportunity for our young musicians  in our churches. It is an inspiration that continues all their lives. Our earnest kid artists have early exposure to  stories of enduring  adversity and instruction to keep moving on. It all shows up in the music we hear today. We can listen to the rich story telling and the loyalty to the beat when we sit down for an evening of jazz.  


Guile vs grit. We can all get wealthy if we have enough guile, but it often takes grit to do the right thing. Deciding to help others often takes sacrifice. Reaching out to those less able takes awareness, and standing up to injustice takes courage. It often takes some grit to be good.

For all of my life I have been puzzled by the brave passivity of those under siege. People who can’t seem to be heard remain quiet and calm. Until they speak. This makes their message so powerful when it comes out . They challenge violence with gentleness and tragedy with forgiveness. Often it is the result of the cumulative experiences and messages that are deeply embedded in the hearts of generations of church goers. We hear it in the music.

In Detroit the strongest musicians seem to have enough true grit to extend a hand to those coming up. And so it goes.

Come on out to the Dirty Dog Jazz Café where grit is not served  just as a side dish.

John Osler


July 18 – July 21



Pianist, singer, composer, musical director and good guy.

Wow! What better way to celebrate July in Michigan than to come out to the Dirty Dog to hear a Detroit original, Alvin Waddles. Alvin will swing into the Dirty Dog Jazz Café this coming week. Alvin in old English means elf friend, making  Alvin’s parents a little prophetic. Alvin does have an elfin twinkle in his eye when he performs. He has enormous talent that he uses with grace. For many of us  he is the friendly face of jazz.

Alvin’s musical career is a Detroit story which includes a generous and gifted teacher that showed up at the right time. For Alvin it was Mrs.Gusseye Dickey who took the gifted 8 year old Alvin under her wing. Alvin says that it was Mrs. Dickey that first instilled in him his life-long love of classical music. Alvin took his early lessons at Cass Technical High School, the Interlochen Arts Academy and the University of Michigan School of Music and added  his rich Detroit culture to become a multi-talented master musician.

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