When one of the District’s most formidable disc jockeys, DJ QuickSilva, takes to the stage as part of a varied yet talented lineup of entertainers during this year’s Summer Spirit Festival in early August, many of his listeners probably won’t know the daunting challenges he once faced but somehow managed to overcome.
In fact, given the cards he held during his youth, it’s nothing short of amazing that now at 37, the husband, father, nightclub owner, entertainer and highly-sought-after DJ could even muster the fortitude needed to remain focused and positive, refusing to allow his circumstances to define his future or circumvent his potential.
Thus, while he’s racked up a bevy of awards, successfully branded himself both regionally and nationally and owns one of the largest nightclubs in the U.S. in his beloved hometown of East Baltimore — a city long-associated with crime and economic decay — he says his objective remains the same: “I want to show the next generation, those who look like me, that you can come from Baltimore and still become somebody — that it’s possible.”
“I started my career as a DJ when I was only 10 after seeing the movie ‘Beat Street’ and remember asking my parents for a set of turntables for Christmas. That was the beginning, 1990, and I’ve never looked back,” he said, noting that after turning pro in 1994 and quickly asserting himself in both nightclubs and on the airwaves, he only wanted one thing: to make himself the first and the best “QuickSilva” that he could.
“It’s important to me that people understand that even if you’ve faced or face circumstances similar or even worse than what I endured during my youth, you can make it as long as you don’t give up,” he said.
Consider this: at 10, his mother died from cancer; at 13, he faced permanent paralysis following a gunshot wound — regaining the ability to walk nine months after his injury; at 18, his father died, leaving him and his two brothers, one older, one younger, alone with no option but to forge for themselves.
He says his brothers looked for ways to numb both the pain and devastating losses they’d collectively suffered. But he looked in more positive directions for solutions that would help him overcome the unfortunate vicissitudes of his childhood.
“I stayed focused on my music always believing that it would one day save my life,” he said. “Music is still my life. I play everything from hip-hop to R&B, from reggae, dancehall, go-go, gospel and calypso and view myself as an entertainer who happens to DJ.”
“It’s important for me to clearly illustrate that the negative stereotypes about us, folks who came from the tough streets of Baltimore, Black folks, fall far short of accurately describing who we are or what we can accomplish,” said the clearly proud father of two who recently marked his ninth wedding anniversary.
“You rarely hear about young people getting and staying married. It’s rare to hear about young adults who have no children outside of marriage. I spend any free time I have with my family — showing them things I never saw, taking them places that I once thought only existed in the movies. Taking my wife to dinner, going to my daughter’s recital or my son’s basketball game — those are the things that I enjoy the most. Sometimes we need to get away from the noise, enjoy the silence and slow down so we better enjoy life.”
DJ QuickSilva says he looks to other industry stars like Jay-Z whose meteoric rise from the projects to hip-hop royalty and success as an entrepreneur remind him that “you don’t have to be the perfect person from a perfect past in order to achieve your dreams.”
Fresh off a recent gig in Cancun, he talked about his feelings after earlier being invited to participate in C D Enterprises, Inc. annual summer cavalcade that features a mixture of local talent and nationally-acclaimed superstars.
“The vision that Darryll Brooks and his team had and their ability to bring their festival to the area has always impressed me,” DJ QuickSilva noted. “There aren’t many festivals where you get a mix of everything. With the size of the audiences that come out, folks like me can let ourselves go and have the time of our lives. As a DJ who plays every genre of music imaginable, it’s a privilege just to be invited to the stage.”
“Trust me — I’m bringing my very best to the stage because this festival has made a name for itself as only showcasing the best of the best.”