“House Music” is a Chicago original — a genre of dance music now known the world over that was born, nurtured and developed in Chicago by young DJs, artists, producers, party promoters and club owners whose collective contributions forged a new sound from elements of disco, Euro dance music, rock and of course, drum machines.
Beginning in the late 1970s and into the early 1980s, a group of popular teen DJs from Chicago’s south side — Wayne Williams, Jesse Saunders, Alan King, Tony Hatchett and Andre Hatchett — played their unique brand of soulful dance music to huge crowds in packed basements, high school cafeterias and legendary nightspots, including Sauer’s, the Tree of Life, First Impressions, the Playground and the Loft, a club of historic importance in the birth and development of house music. Wayne Williams formalized a DJ collective, originally named “Chosen Few Disco Corp.” in 1977 to meet the high demand for the sound, eventually adding Saunders, King and the Hatchett brothers. In 2006, the group added its first new member in nearly 30 years, legendary DJ and producer Terry Hunter, and in 2012 welcomed DJ and producer Mike Dunn into the ranks.
Along with a handful of other legendary DJs including Frankie Knuckles at the Warehouse, Ron Hardy at the Music Box and Lil’ Louis on the west side of Chicago, the Chosen Few were the DJs primarily responsible during this period for popularizing the underground dance music that came to be known as house music.
From local DJ to major record label executive to producer of one of the world’s largest house events, music is the story of Wayne Williams’ life. Noted for being the first DJ to bring disco from Chicago’s underground, gay dance clubs to a young, receptive audience on Chicago’s south side, Wayne quickly became an in-demand DJ as a teenager, playing a different party every night. To meet the growing demand for these sounds, the young entrepreneur founded The Chosen Few Disco Corp. (later renamed The Chosen Few DJs), bringing on board other young DJs—Jesse Saunders, Tony Hatchett, Alan King and Andre Hatchett—whose skills and passion would help shape the sound that became house music. As Wayne grew with the music, he started working for Trax Records in Chicago, the first house music record label. There, he recorded his first track, “Undercover”, under the alias Dr. Derelict.
His work attracted the attention of London-based Jive Records, where he became an A&R executive in charge of the label’s Chicago studio. From day one, Wayne had a knack for developing hit-makers, from guiding the career of house music star Mr. Lee to transforming Fresh Prince and DJ Jazzy Jeff’s sound with hits like “Summer Time” to signing and developing Chicago crooner R. Kelly. He has worked with a host of R&B, pop and hip hop artists, including Jennifer Hudson, Aretha Franklin, Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears, Aaliyah, Mystikal, Joe, and Raheem DeVaughn. As Senior Vice President of A&R at RCA Records, Wayne has most recently helped orchestrate the musical comeback of former GAP Band front man, Charlie Wilson. He has been featured and profiled in print and broadcast media outlets, books and films, including Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton’s Last Night a DJ Saved My Life; Jonathan Fleming’s “hat Kind of House Party Is This?: History of a Music Revolution; and documentaries such as “Hands to the Sky” and “The Unusual Suspects: Once Upon a Time in House Music”. In 2012, He and the rest of the Chosen Few DJs also were recognized at a celebration honoring the 100 Most Influential DJs in Chicago House Music history.
Wayne has continued to keep his finger on the pulse of house music, playing at clubs and events around the world, including the Amsterdam Dance Event, Winter Music Conference, Stan Zeff’s Tambor Party in Atlanta, Fox Hollow in Houston, King King LA, New York’s Roots night at Cielo and Sullivan Room, and Chicago’s The Shrine and House of Blues. He also collaborated with Kenny Dope to produce the “Two Nations” party in New York.
Wayne also continues to produce new dance classics, including the chart-topping “There is a Place”, “You’re The Feeling”, “Acid House” and “Music Saved My Life”. Following the untimely death of his close friend and mentor, Frankie Knuckles, in March 2014, Wayne was asked to speak at the dance music icon’s Chicago and New York memorial services. In October that year, he was named as a Top 10 DJ by New York’s award winning Robbi Promoter. Wayne also earned a 2014 GRAMMY nomination for his work on Jennifer Hudson’s hit “It’s Your World”, and in 2015, was honored with the Outstanding Album award for his work on Aretha Franklin’s Aretha Franklin Sings the Great Diva Classics album at the 46th NAACP Image Awards.
Born and raised in Chicago, Jesse Saunders was gifted with a great ear for music and a talent for making people dance. He is a founding member of the Chosen Few DJs and began spinning at high school dances and house parties when he was 15. His popularity garnered him spinning opportunities at larger venues, including the Blue Gargoyle, First Impressions, Maclenda’s, Sauer’s, the Mansion, the Playground and DaVinci Manor; all cornerstones in the formation of house music.
While known for his association with the Chosen Few DJs, Jesse also is globally recognized as the producer and performer of the first Chicago house music record, “On & On”, released on his Jes Say Records label in 1984. His place in house music history was further solidified by writing and producing one of the most covered and biggest-selling house records, “Love Can’t Turn Around”, which topped the charts in more than 20 countries. With his success, Jesse secured the first major label recording deal for a house music artist and producer, signing with Geffen/Warner Bros. Records in 1986. During his 10-year stint there, he produced and remixed such records as De La Soul’s “Me, Myself and I”; Paula Abdul’s “Vibeology”; and Simple Pleasure’s chart-topping “Where Do We Go From Here” He has performed across the globe during multiple world tours, and continues to release music that moves crowds and climbs charts, including “Funk U Up,” “Real Love”; “Get Sum”; “Yeah/Let Me Hear U”; “Body Music”; “Everybody”; “On & On” (1984 and 2004), “Get Sum”; “Feelin Me”; “Luv 2 Luv U”; “Excited”; “Body Muzik”; “Weekend”; and most recently, “Chameleon” and “Dance the Night Away” featuring LeA Robinson.
Jesse continues to promote his music through the Music & Arts Society, a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and education of house and electronic dance music. He is the creative talent behind the Electronic Music Café Radio Network and produces the annual Pure House Music Festival in Las Vegas. Jesse Saunders has been featured in hundreds of books, media outlets and documentaries. He speaks at conferences, colleges and universities around the world sharing his expertise and musical journey. His contributions to dance music also have been recognized by proclamations from the mayors of Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco and Albuquerque, New Mexico.
DJ Tony Hatchett turned his natural ear for and love of music into a DJ career that has spanned more than 30 years. Born on Chicago’s South Side, he started playing music at family functions with his younger brother, Andre. In 1978, while attending a party at St. Ailbe Catholic School, Tony met a group of DJs, who called themselves “The Chosen Few.” The founder, Wayne Williams, and his younger brother, Jesse Saunders, played disco music while different dance groups competed against each other. . Tony instantly was moved by the power of the music and the effect it had on the crowd and the dancers.
In 1980, Tony was asked to join the expanding DJ crew, where he continued to hone his craft and expand his love of music. He played at several clubs that were pivotal in the formation of house music, including: the Loft, Tree of Life, Sauer’s, 1st Impressions and numerous high schools throughout the city. He also was the first South Side-based DJ to play on the city’s West Side. Today, Tony resides in Houston, Texas, where continues to play on radio and at events. Each July, he travels back to Chicago to DJ alongside his Chosen Few brothers at group’s signature Chosen Few Old School Reunion Picnic.
Known as a “lawyer by day, DJ by night”, Alan is one of Chicago’s original house music DJs and one of the early members of The Chosen Few DJs. His influence on the house music landscape has been felt for more than 30 years, and he has been cited as an inspiration by DJs and producers including Grammy Award-winning Frankie Knuckles, Steve “Silk” Hurley and Chip E. In a 2007 interview discussing his move from New York back to Chicago, Knuckles observed: “One of the best things about returning to Chicago is catching up with some of the home-grown talent. I like to hear the spin that some of them put on house music – that’s what sparks me. The brilliant Andre Hatchett is the perfect example. He is one of two guys in Chicago who have the biggest impact on me. The other is Alan King. They are the truest to the house music form, yet there is soul, personality and individuality in what they’re doing. They’re the real thing.” Alan regularly plays to rave reviews at clubs and events throughout the United States and beyond, including Chicago’s SummerDance Festival, with Frankie Knuckles at the House of Blues, “Bang Sundays” at The Shrine, and Robert Williams’ Da House Spot; New York’s Sullivan Room, Tambor Party in Atlanta; Winter Music Conference in Miami; and the Amsterdam Dance Event. Alan’s current monthly residency at Chant is one of Chicago’s hottest parties, and his wildly popular podcasts routinely top the rankings of all house music podcasts on Podomatic.com.
In 2012, Alan was commissioned by L.A.’s Hidden Beach Records to create a promotional mix tape and write the liner notes for a new release, “CRATES: Remix Fundamentals Volume I,” a collection of dance remixes of songs by Grammy Award winner Jill Scott. In 2013, Alan authored liner notes for Terry Hunter’s mix compilation, “Bang”, on BBE Records. He also has been featured in numerous articles, books and films about house music, including Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton’s book, The Record Players: DJ Revolutionaries; Chip’s E’s acclaimed documentary, “The Unusual Suspects: Once Upon a Time in House Music”; Ebony, Chicago Tribune and Crain’s Chicago Business, which profiled Alan’s “double life” as a law firm partner and DJ. Alan and the rest of the Chosen Few DJs also were recognized at a celebration honoring the 100 Most Influential DJs in Chicago House Music history in 2012. In April 2014, following the untimely death of his close friend and mentor, Frankie Knuckles, Alan was asked by the city of Chicago’s tourism board to substitute for Frankie and play a tribute in his honor at an international travel conference event attended by thousands from around the world. In October 2014, Alan was featured in New City magazine’s annual “Best of Chicago” issue, which noted that Alan’s many “legendary sets” in 2014 “made this lawyer-by-day/spingali-by-night the Bruce Wayne/Dark Knight of Chicago’s music scene.” In October 2014, Alan was also named as a Top 20 DJ by New York’s award winning Robbi Promoter. DJ Alan King on Soundcloud DJ Alan King on Podomatic Facebook Facebook fan page Twitter Instagram Bookings: askhoop[at]aol.com
Born and raised in Chicago, Andre Hatchett was a music lover from the start. Growing up in a household where all types of music was played, he began experimenting with doing pause- button edits on a cassette tape recorder in the 70′s. As a young teenager, he and his cassette recorder ventured out, at first DJing for his parents’ bowling league on Saturday nights. Andre played on that tape recorder until older brother Tony introduced him to a mixer and two turntables, and the rest became house music history.
Now known to many as “the legendary Andre Hatchett,” he has DJ’ed across Chicago and has worked with the country’s top DJs, including the late Ron Hardy and Grammy Award-winning DJ and producer Frankie Knuckles. Andre joined The Chosen Few in 1982, following his brother Tony, who already was a member of the group. He remains one of the most beloved and popular DJs in Chicago and can be heard at various clubs and parties around the city.
Terry Hunter has traveled the globe sharing his passion for soulful house music. Born and raised in Chicago, he was introduced to music at a very early age by his father, a DJ who played mostly soul and disco music at a west side tavern. As a teen, Terry built a following by DJing at neighborhood and high school parties, then went on to play several seminal Chicago clubs and parties. In 1990, as the Chicago house music sound was exploding internationally, Terry produced his first release, “Madness”, which became an underground hit. While continuing to DJ in Chicago and beyond, he honed serious production skills, contributing his talents to remixes for top artists, including Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, Mary J. Blige, R. Kelly, Byron Stingily (of Chicago’s Ten City), Barbara Tucker and La India. Terry has co-written and produced tracks for R&B singer Raheem DeVaughn as well as for Chicago natives Syleena Johnson and Rhymefest. His work includes numerous collaborations, such as 2011’s “Mass Destruction” project with his friend and colleague, DJ/producer Kenny Dope, with whom he remixed Kanye West’s “Addiction”. To develop the next generation of house music talent, Terry launched his own label, T’s Box Records, in 2004. In 2006, he became the first new member of Chicago’s Chosen Few DJs in nearly 30 years. The next year, Terry released the global dance classic, “Wonderful”, featuring Chicago songstress Terisa Griffin, and followed that with a well-received remix of Marshall Jefferson’s house music anthem, “Move Your Body” and a hit remix of Avery Sunshine’s “Ugly Part Of Me”. He was named “Producer of the Year” by 5 Magazine in 2009. In 2011, Terry conceived and co-produced the first “Chicago House DJ Day”, bringing together for the first time 100 of the most influential DJs in Chicago house music. In 2013, he released “We Are One: A Movement for Life”, a contemporary ‘message record’ that speaks to the violence impacting Chicago communities. All song proceeds are donated to local non-profit organizations working to reduce violence. Expanding his soulful house sound to new audiences, Terry produced Jennifer Hudson’s 2014 Grammy-nominated smash, “It’s Your World”, as well as two songs—“I Will Survive” and “You Keep Me Hangin’ On”—for Aretha Franklin’s “Aretha Franklin Sings the Great Diva Songs” project.
And on his own label, Terry’s production of “Let Nobody”, by Chantay Savage shot to #1 on both Beatport and Traxsource, as did his remix of John Legend’s “All of Me”. Live performances—including Miami’s Winter Music Conference, Southport Weekender, Groovefest and the Amsterdam Dance Event—and even a cameo in the French-produced film, “Eden”, keep Terry busy around the world. Closer to home, Terry presides over popular Sunday night party mainstay, “BANG!”. And back in the saddle after 2014 flood waters destroyed his home studio, Terry is producing R. Kelly’s new album, as well as his own EP, due in early 2015. DJ Terry Hunter on Mixcloud Facebook | Facebook fan page | Twitter | Instagram
Growing up record shopping with his mom and listening to his parents’ music collection at home in Chicago’s Robert Taylor Lower Development Homes, Mike Dunn fell in love with soul, funk and disco music, and later, house music and hip hop. That love took him outside his home when he began DJing block club and basement parties in and around his neighborhood, then progressed to clubs and events around the city, working with house music legends such as Bam Bam, Tyree Cooper, Marshall Jefferson, Armando and others. In 1987, Mike produced his first house music release, “Dance You Mutha” on Westbrook Records. As he continued to work in the studio in Chicago and in clubs around the world, Mike’s signature Chicago house track/acid house and hip house sound emerged and was reflected in a string of releases, including house classics “So Let It Be Houze!”, “Pressure Cooker” “Life Goes On”, “Magic Feet”, “God Made Me Phunky” and the infamous “Phreaky MF”.
Mike later added hip hop and R&B to his production plate when he inked a deal with Sean “P. Diddy” Combs’ Bad Boy Records for his imprint, Dunn Ruff Entertainment, through which he released the Chicago anthem, “On My Momma” by True Enuff featuring Swing & Bigg Huss. He also produced records for Public Announcement, Do or Die, Syleena Johnson and Jennifer Hudson. Most recently, Mike has teamed up with long-time friend and fellow Chosen Few DJ member Terry Hunter to create House N’ HD, a production group that already has stirred up a buzz with its first two releases and is working on a third with Chicago MC Teefa. The newest member of The Chosen Few DJs, Mike joined the group in 2012.