Leading electronic music promoterDisco Donnie Presents (DDP),has announced that the inaugural recipient of the Leon Jackson Memorial Scholarship is junior violin performance major,Alexandra Maynard, from Houston, TX. This is a new scholarship initiative created by DDP to aid students from underrepresented communities at theBlair School of Music at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN.
Funded by a $100,000 charitable donation from DDP, the scholarship is named in honor of the late music and event promoterLeon Jackson, who introduced a generation of Nashvillians to electronic dance music. Jackson, who died at age 47, was asNPR’s affiliate WNXP stationdescribed “a beloved figure in Nashville’s DJ community” that Donnie Estopinal (CEO of DDP) remarked as being“a real promoter. He was trying to make people have a good time. That was his job and that was his mission.”
For more than 20 years Jackon promoted dance and electronica events at venues throughout the city, starting as a “street team” promoter at Nashville’s Hillwood High School and Belmont University, then through his own production company, Ultimo Presents, and later in partnership with large-scale event promoters DDP and Insomniac. Jackson worked all his life to erase prejudice and pigeonholing in the music industry by giving a voice and platform to talented artists from a wide range of communities and musical genres. This scholarship continues that legacy, by helping increase diversity of viewpoint and experience at Vanderbilt Blair.
“In the five years since Leon left us, we’ve reflected on the positive mark he left in this world. He was a mentor to many, and helped provide opportunities to upcoming talent in the Nashville music scene. Leon knew the power of higher education and its ability to change lives, and he viewed the Vanderbilt University Blair School of Music as aspirational. But above all, he was an observer and listener. And he understood the importance of understanding diversity in life and its potential in business.” –Donnie Estopinal
This scholarship is one of two initiatives that make upDisco U, a program started by DDP to help aspiring professionals build a career path within the music business. The second initiative,DISCO U: Shadow to Spotlight, is a fast-paced shadowing program at Disco Donnie Presents festivals that grants aspiring music business professionals the opportunity to gain firsthand experience in the various areas of festival production, as well as networking opportunities.
“Working Sunset Music Festival was easily the funnest thing I’ve ever done,”says Arianna, a participant in DISCO U: Shadow to Spotlight,“you can tell they love their jobs and they’re excited to be telling you about whatever it is you need to learn about. Overall, it’s an amazing experience.”
Sebastian Keller, another participant in DISCO U: Shadow to Spotlight for Sunset Music Festival, says it“was an amazing opportunity, and meeting everyone was a great experience that I am very grateful for. This was my first real-world film job, and I can happily say I will want to continue in the future.”
ABOUT DISCO DONNIE PRESENTS
Disco Donnie Presents is an award-winning and recognized leader in electronic dance music event production, founded by veteran promoter James “Disco” Donnie Estopinal. Since the company’s inception in 1994, DDP has sold more than 17 million tickets, producing more than 17,000 live events, arena shows and outdoor festivals in more than 100 markets around the world, including the U.S., Mexico, Canada, and Panama. Annually, DDP is responsible for organizing and promoting nearly 1,000 club events across the U.S. ranging from Portland, Columbus, Houston, Tampa, New Orleans, Dallas, and St. Louis to name only a few. DDP is also known for producing such major festivals such as The Day After, Ultimate Music Experience, Sun City Music Festival and, most recently, Ubbi Dubbi, Sunset Music Festival, Ember Shores and Freaky Deaky.