We lost Samuel Andre Burns on March 7, 2020, right before the pandemic changed everything. With the exception of a beautiful impromptu gathering at Eighteenth Street Lounge, we’ve been unable to give him the proper place of honor he deserves, due to COVID-19.
But today is his birthday. And I found some more words as well as some fond memories.
I shared some thoughts with some DJ friends over at DJ D-Mac & Associates. That’s a good place to start before continuing here.
Sam motivated so many aspiring DJs by filling their heads with lessons and hearts with encouragement, then topping it off with laughter. Sam did that for me when I was still a pup and could only buy one or two records at a time. Each trip to 12 Inch Dance Records in those early days meant that I might forego a meal to purchase my precious vinyl. But Sam made sure I bought the right records.
Sam played with the biggest legends in the game but he would also play with rookies just starting out. Eventually I had a chance to spin with him. I was at a crossroads, just starting to really branch my sound out from the hip-hop that had been my base from the beginning. I was exploring house, drum-n-bass, international sounds, and trying to add them on to my base of hip-hop, R&B and classics. This time period was a crucial bridge to the DJ/producer I am now.
Sam showered me with praise at that party, almost 20 years ago now. Years after the event, he could tell me about what I played and how I played it at our first gig together. Sam would say “You know what I like about how you play?” And that thought could extend for a half hour. Because Sam takes his time to tell you things and piles on the details.
This is our last gig together. It was a party in 2015 to reunite everyone who came up at State of the Union on U Street. That was one of the many spaces where Sam assembled congregations over the years, and it was the spot where I really learned how to be an artist. I’m very grateful to have this and add it to our collective memories of Sam “The Man” Burns.