Hair Skills Saved DJ Sundance from Homelessness
In this week’s Beauty School, we introduce you to a professional who knows her way around some ‘tables, in addition to the stylist chair.
DJ Sundance’s life took a nasty turn when she went from touring Europe with a musician at 16, to returning home and battling homelessness because she had no money left over.
The now 41-year-old Chicagoan says she hit difficult times, but crossing paths with the right people and perseverance pulled her out of the ditch.
She looks back on her life and admits that she really did come a long way.
Her father didn’t play an active role in her life, her mother was a drug addict and her grandmother was an alcoholic, she tells JET. Life placed her in that situation, but she says it didn’t stop her from becoming successful.
“I just didn’t want to be like them. I didn’t want to do that,” she explains.
Sometimes going back to what you know is the best way to change your circumstance, which is what Sundance says she did when she used her hair skills to bring her out of homelessness.
“I was homeless for 10 months,” she said. “My counselor at the homeless shelter put me into school because I was doing hair in there. They would only allow me to make $25 and that was a very humbling experience.”
Unlike most stylists, Sundance admits that she didn’t grow up loving to do hair. In a way, it was forced on her, but she learned to love it. She had two aunts who did hair and one Easter, one of them was backed up with customers so she showed her niece how to put in hair curlers.
“I said I don’t know how to set and she showed me and since my hands were smaller, I was faster,” she said.
The feel of her fingers clasped tightly around wooden drumsticks was her true passion, but her grandmother prohibited it.
“My grandmother didn’t believe girls should play drums so she made me stop so DJing kind of substituted my drumming,” Sundance says.
Coincidentally, the very uncle who taught Sundance how to drum, when her grandmother was away at church functions, was the one who first introduced her to the art of Djing, she says.
After almost ten years of doing hair, Sundance landed a job with Chicago’s 107.5 WGCI radio station as a mix show host at the age of 28. The team welcomed her and two DJ’s took her under their wing and showed her the ins-and-outs of the industry.
“They just made me promise them that I would take it serious because even though they were spinning for WGCI full-time they would take time out of their schedule to meet with me and train me for hours,” she says.
After some time, she decided to invest in creating her own studio and says she was fortunate enough to have people give her some of the crucial items like the turntable and the needle.
Sundance says she never thought she would end up in radio, but somehow her resume is full of those kind of jobs. She spent eight years with WGCI, five with V103 and now she’s Soul 106.3’s first female DJ.
Her favorite thing about mixing: “I just enjoy the freedom of not being told what to play because you can’t really express yourself if you have a guideline.”
She still maintains a relationship with the washing and curling capabilities that forged her future. In fact, she runs a shop, Noricka’s Kutting Room in Calumet City.
No matter where she goes or what she spins, she cannot forget what got her here. She acknowledges: “Hair got me where I am.”