Kelli Hand, Detroit D.J. and Music Industry Trailblazer, Dies at 56

Kelli Hand, Detroit D.J. and Music Industry Trailblazer, Dies at 56
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Kelli Hand, Detroit D.J. and Music Industry Trailblazer, Dies at 56

Kelli Hand, Detroit D.J. and Music Industry Trailblazer, Dies at 56

Kelli Hand, a longtime disc jockey known as K-Hand who has been named the “First Lady of Detroit” for her musical accomplishments, was found dead on August 3 at her Detroit home. She was 56.

His death was confirmed by a spokesperson for the Wayne County medical examiner, who said the cause was linked to arteriosclerotic cardiovascular disease.

Paramount Artists, who represented Ms Hand, paid tribute to her on social media.

“Kelli was without question the first lady of Detroit and a pioneer for women in the music industry,” the company said on Instagram.

Ms. Hand was one of the first female DJs in the Detroit music scene and rose to prominence for her album catalog and lengthy house and techno tracks with the launch of her own label, Acacia Records, in 1990.

In 2017, Detroit City Council honored Ms. Hand with a resolution calling her the “First Lady of Detroit” for pioneering the city’s techno music scene and for being an “international legend” who has toured. in electronic music clubs and festivals.

The certificate highlighted some of her accomplishments in the male-dominated electronic music industry in the 1990s, including being the first woman to release house and techno music.

“Such an honor and exciting,” Ms. Hand wrote on Instagram at the time.

YouTube videos captured Ms Hand wearing headphones, smiling and dancing on the spot as she entertained crowds with her mixes of bouncy beats at nightclubs and events while touring the world.

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Ms Hand, whose legal first name was Kelley, was born on September 15, 1964 and raised in Detroit, where her childhood revolved around music, particularly drums, according to her website.

Her passion for rhythm led her to study music theory at New York University. She also enhanced her musical education in the 1980s by attending the Paradise Garage nightclub, where, according to her site, she soaked up the sounds of the emerging genre of music that would become known as house.

In a 2015 interview with the Detroit Metro Times, she spoke of her interest in record-making after visiting the New York club and others in Chicago.

“After going to Paradise Garage so many times, I wanted to buy the records because I loved the music,” she told the Metro Times. “So the next step was to play those records to hear them! This led me to buy a few turntables, which also led me to DJ in my own bedroom, ”she said, adding that this led her to do a residency at Zipper’s Nightclub in Detroit. .

Ms Hand also spoke about how the DJ scene was dominated by men in its early days and how this played a role in using the gender-neutral name K-Hand for her own music.

“I wanted to come up with something pretty eye-catching,” she recalls. “At the same time, I didn’t want people to know that I was a girl, because I was just doing the music business. I’m like, OK, what’s going to happen if my name comes out, and I’m a girl, because it’s mostly a lot of guys? It was then. The label therefore suggested “K-HAND”.

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On her website, she said the music was not about someone’s appearance or the skills of the DJ, but “being” true to yourself and having the ability to creatively express yourself through her. own self-confidence that is in itself. “

Some of his best-known songs include “Think About It”, “Flash Back” and his 1994 single, “Global Warning”, on UK label Warp Records. Billboard said the songs “put her in league” with Detroit’s other top DJs.

In a 2000 review published in the New York Times of disc jockeys and rappers attending a music festival, Ms. Hand spoke about independent record production. When she took possession of the dance floor, the writer said that “a feeling of freedom hung in the air”.

Complete information on the survivors was not immediately available.

Neil Vigdor contributed to the reports and Susan Beachy contributed to the research.

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