Chicago House Music Oral History Project
Interview with Duane Powell


Micah Salkind



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Duane Powell's love for music started an early age. Growing up in the 1970's he was exposed to Chicago's rich soul music scene by his uncles, who were disc jockeys. Artists in their orbit included Minnie Riperton, The Emotions, Chaka Khan, Miki Howard, and The Staple Singers. 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, working primarily with Lil Louis. 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.

Publication Date



Columbia College Chicago




House Music, Chicago, Illinois, promoter, marketing, consultant, Powerhouse, Caro Music Distribution, Dr. Wax Records


African American Studies | Gender and Sexuality | History | Latina/o Studies | Music | Regional Sociology


This interview is part of the Chicago House Music Oral History Project held at Columbia College Chicago and was captured for Do You Remember House? Chicago's Queer of Color Undergrounds authored by Micah Salkind and published in 2019. The work integrates histories of music, production, DJing, dance, fashion, and slang and addresses movements that led to the development of Chicago's house music.

Interview with Duane Powell