Photo: Illustrious Photography

Livin' La Vida Loca

World-Renowned DJ Maestro's Music Makes The People Come Together

By Emell Derra Adolphus

Sam "DJ Maestro" Anderson has been busy promoting his latest club hit "Birthday Slide," a dancehall remix featuring Jamaican artist Phillip T2k. And if you haven't heard the song, it's a deliciously simple rhythm with a clubby baseline that gives a zodiac shout out to everyone to get off your ass and dance - even if it's not your birthday.

But somehow in between kicking off parties across the globe and churning out hits, Anderson finds time to return home for the Detroit gays. For four years he has donated a $1,500 music production setup to the annual Ferndale and Motor City Prides, making him one of our most valuable allies.

For Anderson, it's about returning the favor to a community that made him famous. As he explains, "the LGBT community is what got me back on my feet."

"In 2000, a guy came to me and wanted me to DJ at this club called the Power Plant in Highland Park. I started DJing there and I kind of changed the game up a little bit, because they weren't hearing a lot of hip-hop and R&B," says Anderson, 53. "I am a mixologist, so I put the songs together really crazy. And I just took off. The LGBT community is what got me back on my feet and got my music going again. That's why I am so loyal to them."

Anderson has been a DJ since 1980. Learning the skill while in the Marines, soon he was christened "Maestro" from a "Spanish guy" he met in 1982.

"He said I was real good at what I did," Anderson says. "He told me I sounded like a maestro. And it just stuck with me."

Speaking like a true maestro, Anderson says with his age he has a wisdom that keeps him one beat ahead of other DJs.

"I have seen the music business change and come back around," says Anderson, who started off working with house music legends like The Electrofying Mojo. As he explains, the boom of technology still threatens to put him out of work.

"The way that everything with technology is changing - that's the hardest part. Back in the day we just played records. Now, it's just too easy for everybody to become a DJ," says Anderson. "When we first started out, we had to go to the record store and stand in line for two or three hours to get that special record. It's not like that anymore. The DJ doesn't have as much power."

Among the flood of wannabe DJs and producers, Anderson says he stands out because he consults the gay community first.

"The strategy that I had, when I first started to make line dance music, would be to channel it through the gay community first. If they vibe to it, I know I have a hit," he says.

Anderson recently signed with Universal Records in Canada, so he rarely gets back home. But when he is home, he'd rather party with the gays.

"I have a big following in the LGBT community. And I am a straight person, but I'd rather party with them than party with a lot of other people, to tell you the truth. They dance and have fun, and there's not a lot of drama. We just have fun. It's about bringing people together," says Anderson. "It's universal, from eight to 80, blind, cripple, crazy."

DJ Maestro

8 p.m. May 31 (Dance Stage)

Ferndale Pride

5 p.m. June 7

Motor City Pride (Riverfront Patio)

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