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"Not long ago I nicknamed Duane Powell the Custodian of Indie Soul Movement.  I, like so many of my peers in the music business, have benefited from Duane’s keen ability to amplify our music.  He was the first person to put our albums on record store shelves in Chicago.  As a DJ, he introduced our music to ears all over the world.  Most importantly though, he’s kept his hand on the pulse of the indie soul movement as we traveled through the tough transitions the music business has gone through over the years.  The definition of Custodian is “A person who has responsibility for or looks after something.”  Duane Powell has consistently looked over the soul movement and we are better for it."


- Eric Roberson


Duane Powell's love for music started an early age growing up in the 1970's being exposed to Chicago's rich soul music scene. His uncles were disc jockeys until the mid 80's and artists including Minnie Riperton, The Emotions, Chaka Khan, Miki Howard, The Staple Singers were their classmates and / or family friends. In 1985, Duane entered into the world of street promotions pounding the pavement promoting events for prominent DJs within Chicago's burgeoning house music scene starting with Lil Louis. In a five-year span, because of their Avante Garde style and presence, Duane and his crew became the go to individuals in marketing to get all of the "cool kids" to events. By 1990, Duane had done street promotions and served as marketing manager and consultant for many clubs and DJs including the historic Powerhouse. In 1998, he became an import buyer for Cargo Music Distribution and by the end of that year, an employer at one of Chicago's most legendary record stores, Dr. Wax Records. It was his 12 years there that the title of "tastemaker" really took shape by almost single-handedly breaking several artists in the market. This included Ledisi, Eric Roberson, Julie Dexter, Jill Scott, Raheem Devaughn, N'Dambi and many more.


As a promoter, he launched the SOUNDROTATION brand in 1999, further cultivating the underground soul scene in Chicago giving many of those acts their performance debuts in the market. Through this he became a fixture on the global soul scene and began speaking about his knowledge of the business on panels and workshops including The International Soul Summit (ATL), Urban Organic (Detroit), I Got Soul Conference (Dallas), Chicago Artist Resource and the Chicago Cultural Center.


As a historian, Powell created the interactive lecture series Rear View Mirror Sessions sharing his vast knowledge about the history of music legends conducting these lectures for many institutions including UChicago Arts, Stanford University, Detroit Institute Of Arts and Chicago Public Library. 

As a DJ, Duane has held residencies at many of the most popular venues and galleries around the city of Chicago including the House Of Blues, Virgin Hotel, Museum Of Contemporary Art and Navy Pier. In addition, he has opened for many heavyweights in music including opening for Frankie Beverly & Maze at The Taste Of Chicago and has shared the bill with many legendary DJ's and Grammy-winning producers in the dance music world including Joe Claussell, DJ Spinna, Steve "Silk" Hurley, Maurice Joshua, Josh Milan, Timmy Regisford, Ron Trent and more. He has also spun at festival all over the states including ATL Weekender, Venice Rebel Jazz Fest and Arizona House Festival. In 2019, he was named Chicago's best House Music DJ by the Chicago Reader. In 2022, he was chosen to represent Chicago as a featured DJ for a special set filmed for the globally popular Boiler Room TV.

As a program partner for the Rebuild Foundation as well as being a board member of the Frankie Knuckles Foundation, Powell combined his love of house music, his love for conducting and the power to move people through music, he curated Sunday Service, A bi-weekly event spinning and curating music from gospel house to inspirational and tribal aimed at connecting with his following referred to as his congregation on a deeper level. A spiritual level. In 2022, with his Sunday Service, he opened the stage at The Chicago Gospel Fest and in 2023, he was invited to bring Sunday Service to the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in D.C.


Tamara Davis - Music Blogger

"In the pop culture sense of things, Duane would be the Morpheus to my Neo, having personally provided me with the “red pill” that  expelled me from the matrix of often misogynistic mainstream radio music. Duane was the back bone of the store (Dr. Wax), responsible for keeping them stocked with the hottest, on the verge music from around the world"




Click the images and enjoy the sounds

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jill scott

jill scott


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