Raven Shaikh is an up-and-coming DJ, and with a given name like his, you could say he was born to be one, especially since, for as long as the 23-year-old Parkville, Maryland native can remember, music has meant everything to him.
This past March, on the 6th to be exact, Raven officially launched DJ Shaikh, LLC, a mobile DJ business, with the support and guidance of Gary Madigan, Business Development Manager, who is leading Penn-Mar’s new Self-Employment Program. This program, an entrepreneurship initiative that gives individuals Penn-Mar supports the opportunity to explore self-employment opportunities, ostensibly grew out of Raven’s first meeting with Penn-Mar team members, about two years ago, during which he expressed that he would like to own his own business as a DJ.
“At that time we didn’t have a program to do with self-employment,” said Gary. “However, we singlehandedly created one, and as an organization were able to get it off the ground. Knowing that he was one of the few, if not the first individual who had a goal and outlook to own his own business, prompted us to jump start the whole process, and from there I blossomed into my new role in self-employment.” Gary formerly held the position of Community Employment Manager with Penn-Mar’s Customized Employment Program.
The Power of Music
Quality Coordinator Kelly Fry remembers that first meeting with Raven:
“We asked him, ‘why the music? – why DJing?’ His response was, ‘I just want to share what music has done for me with other people.’ What with the troubles in his life and the things he’s had to overcome, music has meant so much to him and he recognizes how it can help with stress, anxiety or depression. He said, ‘Music helped me get out of that dark place to a better place, so why wouldn’t I want to share that with people around me.’”
The power of music, Kelly noted, has gotten Raven through many of the challenges in his life. Among his multi-diagnoses, Raven is visually impaired and has hemiparesis, partial weakness on his right side, which hindered him playing an instrument. In addition he has bipolar disorder. Yet despite his disabilities he’s eager to showcase his abilities and bring people together through his music. That, as Gary said, is the main reason, and mission for starting his own DJ business.
“I got into music right from the start,” said DJ Shaikh. “I grew up listening to classic rock and got into house music when I was 14. My grandmother [Diane Younger] has been a major influence in my life – she listened to everything, including house.”
It was while attending the Maryland School for the Blind that Raven began DJing and creating his own music. He DJed the school’s social sock hops and started experimenting with Electronic Dance Music (EDM). One of his biggest musical influences, apart from The Beatles, is Canadian electronic music producer, DJ, and musician Deadmau5 (pronounced, dead mouse), who he credits as one of the reasons for getting into DJing.
Business Plan in Action
Since Gary took the lead in helping Raven write his comprehensive business plan for DJ Shaikh LLC, the two have been busy connecting with DJs and mentors in the community. They have toured radio stations and on one opportunity met with the General Manager of Raven’s favorite radio station 100.7 The Bay, Baltimore’s Classic Rock Station.
These opportunities, as Gary sees it, give Raven a chance to get a behind-the-scenes look into not just the DJ world, but also the music and broadcast industry. Starting mid-June, Raven will begin an internship at Above Ground Studios in Baltimore working with DJ, Curator, Engineer, Artist and Producer Mr. 14th. They will work on all areas of DJing but will focus on mixing and formatting.
“It’s important that we get out and meet as many people as we can, not just to showcase Raven’s talents and abilities, but network as well to create mentorship opportunities and see what the benchmarks are for him to be successful long term, not just short term,” said Gary.
Since the official launch in March, consistent networking and word of mouth have already landed DJ Shaikh half-a-dozen gigs, a few of which he is providing pro bono. As any good DJ does, he will play to the audience and can play all genres of music. His particular interest is in the popular EDM genre, for which he creates his own beats, a sample of which is included below.
One particular and exciting event he’s been invited to DJ is the Ten-Thousand Acts of Kindness Event in York, Pa., on June 30th, in Penn Park. The event celebrates the progress being made towards unity and Raven will play for 10,000 diners gathered to attempt to earn the Guinness Book of Records’ title for the longest table in the world – one-and-a-half miles long.
“Raven has taught me how to listen to music without using my ears,” said Gary. “He’s taught me how to feel music and embrace it as something more than just sounds, beats, and lyrics. I no longer listen to music the way I did a year ago.”
As for Raven, aka DJ Shaikh (look out for his name): “I’m living my dream.”
Check out the a sample of DJ Shaikh’s original music below. For more information and to book DJ Shaikh for your event, contact Gary Madigan at 410.343.1069 ext. 262, or firstname.lastname@example.org.