"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 DJ, he had a popular internet radio program on Swank Society. He has spun at and has residencies at many of the most popular venues around the city including the House Of Blues, Virgin Hotel, The Promontory and Reggie's Music Club. In addition, he has opened for many heavyweights in soul 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.
Thousands of people are glued to his social media pages for his updates on music, as well as his knowledgeable tributes to the greats in music history. He also served as the Soulful Sundays editor for the reputable hip-hop blog kevinnottingham.com. According to his following, his SOUNDROTATION compilations create sonic satisfaction, that impinge on their emotions and lend freedom to their souls.
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"
@ The House of Blues