Cassidy Durango Milton Willy Podell (born 1981), better known as DJ Cassidy, is a New York DJ. One of the highest earners in the business, Cassidy is known for his work at celebrity functions, including the 50th birthday party and 2009 inauguration of President Barack Obama, and the 2008 wedding of Beyoncé and Jay-Z.
Born in New York’s Upper East Side, Cassidy was interested in deejaying from an early age. He asked his parents for two turntables and a mixer for his tenth birthday, although he was surprised that he got when he’d asked for.
He soon began his career, working at teenage parties, school carnivals and talent shows, and in his senior year in high school at nightclubs in New York. In 1999 he studied at George Washington University, then transferred to New York University, graduating in sociology in 2003.
He was discovered by Sean “Diddy” Combs while working the 10–4 night shift in the basement of Lotus, a club in Manhattan. Combs scribbled his phone number on a napkin and asked Cassidy to call him, which led to invitations to work at Grammy parties and the MTV Video Music Awards. As of 2011, according to Forbes, Cassidy was performing 200 gigs a year, sometimes earning $100,000 a night.
He was hired for the weddings of Beyoncé, Jennifer Lopez and Kim Kardashian, President Obama’s first inauguration ball, his and Michelle Obama‘s 50th birthdays, the 2012 Democratic National Convention, as well as for parties hosted by Oprah Winfrey and Anna Wintour.
It was after he worked at the party for the opening of Winfrey’s girls’ school in South Africa that she recommended him to the Obamas.
Cassidy’s first album, Paradise Royale, will be released in May 2014 by Columbia Records. The aim of the album is to “bring back the greatest and most universal dance music of all time,” with new material that captures the architecture of 1978–1982 dance music.
John D. Luerssen of Rolling Stone writes that there is no sampling or recycling of old material. Cassidy has brought together a 14-piece string section and 22 of the world’s most notable musicians from that period, including Nile Rodgers of Chic;
Ray Parker Jr., who worked with Stevie Wonder and Barry White; Jerry Hey, who arranged Michael Jackson‘s horns and string sections; and Philip Bailey, Verdine White and Larry Dunn of Earth, Wind and Fire.
The album also features Mary J. Blige, Chromeo, Estelle, Melanie Fiona, CeeLo Green, R. Kelly, John Legend, Ne-Yo, Kelly Rowland, Passion Pit and Usher. Its lead single, “Calling All Hearts,” sung by Robin Thicke & Jessie J, was released in the US on iTunes in February 2014.
Paradise Royale was four years in the making. In preparation for it, Cassidy created an iTunes playlist of 25 songs recorded between 1978 and 1982, then set about researching how to make his music sound like those songs.
He looked into the musicians who had played on them and realized that the producers were using the same musicians to create that particular sound. Those are the musicians he tried to recruit for Paradise Royale.
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