House Music and Shabba-Doo


Hoimage7use music was born in Chicago from the disco scene and that’s the era that Shabba-Doo has his roots. A native Chicagoan, Shabba-Doo spoke about the dance scene, “In  the late 60’s and early 70’s soul music was big in Chicago.” 

“House music influenced a style of dance called the waacking dance. Waaking Dance is a derivative of a dance style called punking,” said Shabba-Doo. In the 1970s like many of straight djs in Chicago, Shabba-Doo went into the gay night clubs in Los Angeles and created a hybrid form of dancing.  “I created the first bi-sexual street dance form,” said Shabba-Doo.

People often ask where does he get his creative dance moves, he replies, “I put the Puerto Rican in it!” Latinos have a major influence on American culture and Shabba-Doo has been at the forefront since the 1970s.

Shabba-Doo gave me an education, a history lesson.  He introduced me to Tom Moulton. Moulton was the original remixer on the national level. According to wikipedia, Moulton “was responsible for the first continuous-mix album side, on Gloria Gaynor‘s disco album, Never Can Say Goodbye, earning him the title the ‘father of the disco mix’.”

“House music was the heartbeat, the pulse,” said Shabba-Doo. The bass and tribal beats of house music gets to the very soul of a dancer. 

When working on a dance routine, he feels the music, like a heart beat, using his body to interpret the music, creating a personal music score. 

Today, Shabba-Doo is still dancing. He teaches all over the world. Often giving back to the community. He recently joined the Hip Hop Hall of Fame Museum Development Team. In the Fall of 2014 he is scheduled to release an autobiographical book. He is also working on a film, ” A Breakin’ Uprising: The Movie”.  

One of my favorite Shabba Doo quotes…

“Knowledge is the new swagger, intelligence is the new cool and the new dope. God gave us all potential but education helps to unlock that potential. Without an education, without knowledge, you are like a baseball player that only has talent but doesn’t know how to use it. Talent will get you at bat but education gets you home.” 

Background of this blog: A few months ago, I was scrolling through Facebook and Shabba-Doo was in my news feed. I thought about the movie “Breakin'”  how much I loved it, watching it over and over again in the 1980s and all the great music. I recently discovered that Shabba-Doo is from Chicago. So I wanted to know if and how House music influenced his style of dance. He graciously agreed to an interview.


You are Now in Bedford Falls

“You are now in Bedford FallsBedford Falls

At the age of 13, I wanted to take my own life. My small world was crashing around me. I was doing horrible in school; my parents had transferred me out of public school back into a catholic school, a very small private school, with uniforms and the not so cool kids. My boyfriend had broken up with me to go out with someone who called herself my friend. I was told often that I was ugly and fat. No one understood me. I believed no one loved me.

I thought many times how I could take my life. I would write, “I want to die, everyone hates me” on my school books. One day my parents discovered it but I assured them that I was fine. I really wasn’t, I was lost and lonely. I got the all the Fs on my report card up to D minuses to get out of 8th grade. I chose to go to a small all girls’ catholic school that was a ten minute bus ride or about a 30 minute walk from home. Things got slightly better once I got to high school, my grades improved and I started to make some new friends. But I was still sad, still thinking about taking my life.

In the first semester of my freshman year, my English teacher thought she would torture us by making us watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” right before Christmas vacation. At that time, there was no real respect for the movie; it was on TV every day between Thanksgiving and Christmas. However, surprisingly I had never seen it. Each day, as I went to English class I fell in love with George Bailey but most importantly, I discovered the impact of one person’s life on so many. I began to see the value of life, even my life.

For the last 20 years I’ve kept a little ceramic sign (in the photo above)  where I could see every day that says, “You are now in Bedford Falls”. It serves as a reminder that I may not be exactly where I want to be but I’m exactly where I need to be. Our lives intersect with some many others, we matter to more people than we realize.

An Interview with Byron Burke


I received a call to go and interview a female dj from Europe. She was on vacation, touring the USA and was available for an interview. The request came through a friend, I was hesitant because I prefer to set up my own interviews. It gives me the opportunity to prep the interviewee prior, giving them the choice to talk with me or not. But I trusted my source and drove 20 miles to conduct the interview. When I arrived, I was told I had just missed her.

But Rocky Jones of DJ International was wrapping up a business meeting with Byron Burke. Jones suggested I interviewed Burke. So here I was sitting across from Bryon Burke. I was not prepared in any way to conduct an interview of Burke. I enjoy preparing interviews and I love to research the subject before I conduct an interview.  As I was introduced to him, I was told he was from the group Ten City. I knew Ten City but I didn’t know Byron Burke. Burke was also put on the spot but being so gracious and kind, he agreed to the interview.

I listened to Burke talk about parts of his life journey; from growing up on Chicago’s West Side, as a trumpet player, dancer in Shy Boys dance crew, became a well-known dj and then signing with his group “B Rude, Inc” to DJ International Records all before he was 19 years old.

Music was Burke’s sanctuary. He played the trumpet in Grammar school. In the 8th grade he began djing on Technic 1100s, he practiced 6 hours a day for a year. He made over 200 mix tapes until it was just the right mix to be submitted to a promoter to get a gig. His first major party, at the age of 15, was with Shawn Robinson and Farley Jack Master Funk.

He grew tired of mixing records and wanted to make his own records. Burke called Rocky Jones, and began to hang out at the office of DJ International Records and eventually got a record deal with his group “B Rude, Inc.”.  The members of the group consisted of Byron Burke, Anthony Nash, Shaun Robison. Shortly after the group was established, Tommy Williams and Byron Stingily paired up with the team. However, the group struggled to get anything off the ground. After a year, Burke got out of his contract with DJ International Records.

He continued to work with Byron Stingily after the B Rude Inc. disbanded and joined forces with Marshall Jefferson and formed a group called The Truth, followed by Ragtyme which included Herb Lawson. Ragtyme was signed to Atlantic Records and changed their name to Ten City. Ten City’s debut album, Foundation, included “Right Back to You” and “That’s the Way Love Is.”

According to Wikipedia, along with his work on Foundation he also co-wrote and produced State of Mind for Atlantic Records, one album entitled No House Big Enough for East West Records and one album entitled That Was Then, This Is Now for Columbia Records. The records spawned ten Top 20 Billboard magazine dance songs, five Top 10 Billboard Magazine Sales Chart Singles, ten Top U.K. Pop Chart Singles, a Gold Album from South Africa and a Silver Album from the U.K. that received international acclaim on four continents.”

Today, Burke is the founder and president of BB Media Global Group. According to their website, BB Media Global Group works “with a select group of Start-up and established corporations develop creative strategies to position their brand for success.” Burke is also a co-owner of 905 FM Brooklyn New York, a 24 hour internet, smartphone and In-car radio station.

Burke’s faith has been a major influence throughout his life. The voice of God has guided him throughout his career. Since 2002, he has led weekly online bible studies and attracted people from all over the world. Burke’s sermons can be heard on

First set: Numark dm500 and Technics Slb10s

Favorite house song: Love Dancin’ by Roger Sanchez

Favorite quote: This Book of the Law shall not depart out of your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may observe and do according to all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall deal wisely and have good success–          Amplified Bible

Midwest DJ Fest

September 8, 2013–Perception Lounge, in Berwyn, hosted the Midwest DJ Fest. About 100 Djs from around Chicagoland gathered to network, to check out new equipment, trade music, listen to other djs and have a great time.

I’ve hung out with djs for more than 20 years, unless the are behind the decks, they find it very difficult to turn off their critical ear and enjoy the music. So this event was a breathe of fresh air. People were mingling, laughing, cheering each other on.  The only ones dancing were the bartenders, although the music was great, a mix of old school and EDM. Most of the djs were just lost in the music or caught up in their conversations.

I got to mingle with other djs’ wives. That is always a treat! Meeting other women who love house music despite it being our husband’s mistress. We understand the lingo, the music and the passion even if the only time we touch a turntable is to dust it off.  🙂 and sometimes not even that!

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DJ Hall of Fame-1st meet and greet!


August 26, 2913— We arrived at the Alhambra Palace, on W Randolph St in Chicago. The restaurant looked like a palace with high ceilings, velvet curtains, mosaic tiles and beautiful artwork. The waitress led us to a long, curvy stair case and said, “the djs are in the room at the top of the stairs to the right.” When we arrived to the top of the stairs we opened one of the heavy double doors and walked into history.

The large room was filled with excitement and laughter. Old friends catching up. Rocky Jones, the founder and owner of DJ international records and Martin “the Boogieman” Luna were on the stage discussing the order of the night’s events. We saw some of our friends, said some quick hellos but quickly grabbed our seats, as Luna announced to clear the dance floor.

As people cleared the dance floor, I looked around the room and saw Chicago house music artists like Curtis McClain, Harry Dennis, Keith Nunnally; djs like Martin “the Boogieman” Luna, Tim Spinnin’ Schommer, CZR just to name a few and producers like Rocky Jones, Sal Amato and Benji Espinoza.

Luna introduced Rocky Jones to a roar of applause and accolades. Jones got right down to business. There was a 3 point agenda for the DJ Hall of Fame: in the works was an official non-profit organization with a 501c3 in progress, an awards show for djs and a House Music museum to be located in Chicago.  Jones emphasized that all of the work would be done with excellence, dedication and ethics.

It was clear to everyone in the room we were a part of history in the making. Following Jones’ announcements he called upon Keith Nunnally. Nunnally reminded the group of Chicago’s place in the history of house music. He encouraged the group to stay focused on the bigger picture.

Following  the announcements, people began to mingle, take pictures and exchange information. It was truly an honor to witness the beginning stages of what will be the most unified House Nation ever!

House Music is Gonna Set You Free

At the History of House Concert
At the History of House Concert in Riis Park in Chicago, IL

I remember the first time I tried to explain house music to my parents. I was turning the dial on the stereo and they asked what I was looking for, I replied, “I want to listen to music without breaks. It just keeps going!” I was about 11 yrs old. It wasn’t long before I discovered that it was the radio station WBMX that played the “Hot Mix 5” on Friday nights.  I listened every Friday, recorded the mixes on my cassette deck on the little boom box, so I had something to listen to until the next week. I recorded the mixes over and over; I wore out many cassettes tapes.

I was too young for the Warehouse, Musicbox and Jenals. But in 1987, I was 13 years old, I began to attend school dances in the gym. These were house music parties. When I walked into the dark gym that was lit up by a few strobe lights, I felt the bass vibrate through my body. I watched the dance crews battle it out and took in the whole scene. At the time I was not into dancing, just the music. I had all the song lyrics memorized. My love affair with house music was solidified.

Back then, we knew the dj’s name not necessarily who was the artist behind the song. There were a few stand outs like White Knight and Fast Eddie. Over the last few years, I’ve had the honor to meet some of the voices behind those lyrics I memorized.

Today, I am a married mom of a 20 year old, 17 year old and a 3 year old. My husband is a dj, he mixes old school house music, from the 1980s and 1990s with many of the new beats.   We love attending house music events; like the History of House. I still get lost in the music, if I close my eyes I can easy go back to that school gym when life was so carefree. House Music will set you free!

It didn’t know the meaning of the word empty!

Recently my co-worker had surgery, her mobility is limited so she has been bringing in her 10 yr old daughter to assist her; get prints from the copier, deliver messages throughout the office, deliver mail. etc. It has been nice to have her around.
I’ve worked at churches for more than 11 years and working at any church coming with its own unique set of issues. Some church offices are very child friendly and others not so much. Sometimes, it depends on the co-workers. At the first church I worked at, all the employees had children. So my kids spent school days off including summer vacation at the church. I always wondered what it was like for them growing up in the church. A few months ago my 17 yr old wrote an essay for school about a place he feels comfortable. Below is an excerpt from his essay:
A place where I feel comfortable is not always around, it comes and goes. Not because I am insecure, but because I am an observant person. I notice things that make even the most comfortable place awkward. However I have come to learn that accepting things makes it easier to become comfortable almost everywhere, when I was a kid I practically grew up in church, my mom was always there because she worked there. As I grew up the place that was my jungle when I played explorer was my comfort zone, even though it was a big silent sanctuary I could see it come to life on Sundays as if it didn’t know the meaning of the word empty. The church environment is a welcoming one…
I love intimacy he describes about being in the church building. What a beautiful impression of his years growing up in the church! He was about 4 yrs old when I worked at that particular church. I’d often find him asleep under one of the pews. Sometimes he and his older sister talk about playing in the children’s Sunday school room and all the fun they had with the other children.
Yesterday, my co-worker’s daughter wanted to help with a ministry event that was happening after work. The church I work at is not her home church but she was excited all day, looking forward to helping. I stopped to see how she was doing on my way to the train. She was smiling, busily working along the church organist and music director. I thought back to my son’s essay… “The church environment is a welcoming one…” may this always be!

Expecting the Unexpected

Wesley Tabernacle at the Methodist Campground in Des Plaines, IL

This post is the transcript from a sermon I preached at the Historic Methodist Campground on July 21, 2013.

38 Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39 She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. 40 But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; 42 there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42)

We’ve all been where Martha has been. Worrying about the details. Wanting everything to be perfect and get finished on time or have results in our favorite. We run around preparing, cleaning, getting things done and we notice the “Marys” in our way. Sitting around soaking up the sun, the view, the music. We want to scream, “hey, get to work!” Or “I need some help over here!” On the other hand, we’ve all been where Mary has been. Something catches our attention; we stop in our tracks and forget everything that is happening around us, and get lost in the moment. I am famous for that! I can be in the middle of a sentence and something will catch my attention and I will leave the person I’m talking to very confused.

These 5 verses have caused some debate throughout the centuries, mostly about the roles of women. I can see that but I also see something more. Mary and Martha represent discipleship.  The two women represent a balanced Christian life.  Today, I’d like to focus on Martha. In my research I found that she really gets a bad rap, for being so busy and not stopping to sit at Jesus’ feet, like her sister Mary.  Although, Jesus tells Martha not to worry he doesn’t tell her to stop working but to remember the one thing is needful, Him.

Let’s look at the setting of the scene. Bethany is 2 miles from Jerusalem. Some scholars refer to Bethany as Jesus’ Judan home. There are several events in Jesus’ ministry that occur in Bethany. It was where the feast at Simon’s house occurred in Matt. 26, Mark 14 and Luke 7. It was where he raised Lazarus (John 11). It was where the ascension took place (Luke 24:50-51).

Mary and Martha were friends of Jesus. It could be assumed that Jesus stopped here frequently. “It seems likely to me these were two women who were famous among early Christians, perhaps as missionaries, but certainly as leaders,” says Mary Rose D’Angelo, associate professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame. In Luke 10:38, Jesus and his disciples “came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.” The language suggests that Martha owned the house—not unlikely as women did own property in ancient times. D’Angelo takes the interpretation a step further: “Early Christians didn’t have churches; most seem to have gathered in private houses, and perhaps Martha was the host of a house church”( A woman in leadership in the early church? For the 1st century readers/hearers, this is unexpected.

Martha was a woman of great faith. We see this in John 11. When Lazarus, her brother, dies, she ran out to Jesus and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died BUT I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” Martha knew that Jesus was capable of delivering the unexpected. Martha is bold. She is confident. She can say exactly what is on her mind to Jesus. She knows exactly who she is dealing with, in John 11:27 she says, “I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God…”  Unexpected, maybe?

Martha believed that Jesus could’ve done something about Lazarus, even after being dead for 4 days. In the gospel of Luke, I wonder what she expected Jesus to do about her sister? His response is unexpected. He turns it around on her. He reminds her of one thing is needful, Him.

We are called to be in relationship with Jesus. And in that relationship, we see ourselves unexpectedly transformed. When I gave my life to Christ, I knew things were going to be different but I had not expected the complete transformation of my life. I no longer thought the same, I saw the world in a new light and even I felt like I breathed differently. My conversion experience was very powerful. Being raised as a Roman catholic, attending catholic school, I always knew about Jesus but I had no idea who he really was and what His love for me really was all about.

One of the treasures of my life was a few months after I committed my life to Christ, I witnessed my husband committed his life. And I got to watch his life change. He was already a wonderful patient man; he was a provider, he loved me and our children unconditionally but when he welcomed Jesus into his heart he was even more patient, he loved to serve others more; setting a wonderful example for me and our children.

But there was always a touchy subject, his father. When I met Luis, more than 20 years ago, he was like many people I grew up with, he lived in a single parent home. Since it was so common, I didn’t bother to ask about where his dad was until we started our life together. I encouraged him to reconnect with his dad. He was not interested. As the years went by, I learned that his dad was not a very good father and an even worse husband. He was an alcoholic who was physically abusive to Luis’s mom and often gambled the family’s money away.

As Luis began his faith journey, the relationship of his father remained a touchy subject. I would ask him occasionally if he was ready to visit his dad. The answer was always “not yet”.
In July 2009, through Facebook, we reconnected with Luis’ cousin, Lisa, on his father side. They talked for hours that first night. He learned that his dad was doing well. He was shocked to learn that Lisa’s father lost his battle with cancer and passed away in the fall of 2008.  Lisa was planning a visit to Chicago the following week; to visit some of the places she had memories with her father. During Lisa’s visit, she encouraged Luis to visit Puerto Rico and see his dad.

A few months after Lisa’s visit, we went to Puerto Rico. Unexpectedly, it was a life changing trip for me. I knew I would fall in love with the island and my husband’s family. But I didn’t expect to I fall deeper in love with my husband. After more than 25 years of being estranged from his father. Knowing all that I knew about his father, I watched my husband treat his dad with love, honor and respect. Not once, did he mention the past abuse. He never threw anything in his face. He walked into his father’s life like a son. I admired my husband even more. I couldn’t believe that I had married someone who could be so forgiving and loving, when I struggle to forgive people for even less transgressions.

Luis cultivated his relationship with his dad and new found family members. Calling his grandma once a week and checking up on his dad. It was a treat to watch him, build relationships with his family. On May 30, 2010, Luis received a call that his dad was killed by a hit and run driver. Talk about the unexpected! During our mourning, there were times we questioned God and became angry. But we felt the love of Jesus through our friends and church. We were constantly reminded, Jesus was the one thing is needful.

It’s not clear what the chronological order of Lazarus’ death and this visit to Bethany. But it seems that Lazarus’ death happened after this visit. And that Martha took Jesus’ advice and focused on the one thing needful, Him. This experience in her house shaped her for her ministry and most importantly shaped her view and relationship with Jesus.

How has your experience with Christ shape your life? When has Jesus showed up in your life in an unexpected way? It is very easy to get caught up in the busyness of our lives and worry over every little thing. But we must remember what Jesus said to Martha, One thing is needful. The author and perfector of our faith. So how do we become like Martha and Mary and balance our work with our faith? How do we become closer to God? Like any relationship, we work at it. We devote some quiet time, read the bible and pray. If you are thinking what I’m thinking, “yeah, yeah, I’ve heard that for years.” Well, it’s time to be creative! Find a new devotional, read a new translation of the bible, find a new place for quiet time. My prayer is that on our journey with Jesus we find the balance represented by Mary and Martha. Amen.

Known Only By God

county_poor_450vOn Wednesday, May 29 at noon, I am participating in the 28th annual Interfaith Memorial Observance for Indigent Persons. This service is dedicated to celebrating the lives of more than 300 people buried by the Office of the Cook County Medical Examiner in the last 12 months. The service includes a reading of the names buried over the past year, musical selections and devotional statements by representatives from the Jewish, Muslim, Christian and Zoroastrian faiths. Some of those that are buried are listed as unknown. The service gives the community a chance to serve as a surrogate family for those who died poor and alone.

My role in the service is to read about 30 names of people, who I do not know, who I have no connection. In the last few days, I’ve read my list of names over and over and worked on the pronunciation of their names. Imagining what kind of life they lived: where they lived, what kind of families they came from, how they smiled, laughed and cried.  Maybe those around them had abandoned them or couldn’t afford to pay for a burial. Or they choose to walk away from their families and died alone. I may never know their stories, just their names. But each name I read is Known by God.

I am so humbled to participate in this service. I am honored to be a part of a ministry that hosts these type of events for the community.

Happy birthday little brother!


Today would have been my brother’s 35th birthday….would have been. Sadly his life was cut short at the age of 7 weeks. 7 weeks. 48 days to be exact.  Such a short period of time to have such an impact on the lives of so many. I was almost 4 years old. I was already the big sister to one sister when mom and dad brought home my baby brother. As an adult, I’ve tried to sort out what was real and what was made up in my 4 year old mind. A brother for 48 days and then he was gone.

I was told he was in heaven. And I wanted to go there to see him. After all, that’s how we saw Auntie, Granny, why couldn’t we visit him. I looked for him, I looked for ways to see him. I remember a cloud of sadness that covered my home life and never really dissipated.  I knew that I should not bring him up because it made everyone uncomfortable, but it was my way of staying connected to him.

Grief has a way of haunting you. Even as a child, I knew my world was different. His death changed the course of a young family, even for those that weren’t even born yet. His death brought sadness and confusion to the family.

I think about all the bad theology people say, “God must have needed him more” or  “He is an angel now.” How does that help people deal with their grief? It never helped me, it confused me. I often thought, “if God loved me, why did he destroy my family?”  But I know now that God does not bring death.  When his birthday and death anniversary arrive…I still ache and long to know him. I wonder what life would have been like to grow up with 2 little brothers and a sister. I wonder how different my life would have been if death hadn’t visited our family. Sometimes, it’s good to play the “what ifs”…but it sometimes makes the present more difficult. Through it all, there are 2 things I am sure of, God’s love has comforted me more times than I can count and one day I will see “my little brother” Manuel Reyes Jr. again.