The Houston Music Hall of Fame Class of 2014
There's an old saying in the music industry that you have your whole life to make your first album but six months to a year for your second. This is almost the reverse. Last year, when we started the Houston Music Hall of Fame to salute the 25th anniversary of the Houston Press Music Awards, the whole thing went from concept to finished product in about six weeks. This year we had an entire year to think about whom to induct.
Photo by Marco Torres DJ Sun
That made it tougher in some ways, and easier in others. We kept our original rule of inducting only people who are still at least semi-active, but we expand our scope to include a former Houstonian still very much going strong at age 75 and a venue owner who is now a sort of godmother to two or three generations of local musicians. Other than that, our five inductees have little in common aside from the fact that their talents have seldom drawn widespread acclaim until now.
Besides the household name who last year put a song on the charts for his seventh straight decade, that is. But it is now our distinct pleasure to induct DJ Sun, Grady Gaines, K-Rino, Walters Downtown owner Pam Robinson (profiled separately) and Kenny Rogers into the Houston Music Hall of Fame.
His given name is Andre Sam-Sin, but DJ Sun fits the man much better. That word evokes warmth, light, heat, steadfastness -- remember "sure as the sun will shine," from Jimmy Cliff's great "The Harder They Come" -- and an enormous gravitational pull, all qualities that have made Sun such a linchpin of Houston's music community for the past 20 years. The only way it doesn't fit is that he has little interest in being the center of attention; he's as soft-spoken and humble a man as you're ever going to meet.
Sun is certainly a DJ, but recently he's become much more. A couple of years back, the Press ran an article about him that featured Sun in front of a floor-length bookcase crammed with vinyl LPs, which likely only scratched the surface of his collection. (Tens of thousands of records, we imagine, but six figures wouldn't be out of the question.)
Since 1995, he and his colleagues have sound-tracked Houston's Saturday nights with the adventurous and playful play-lists of their KPFT program Soular Grooves, venturing hither and yon to provide choice beats and mind-bending segues equally suited for dancing and chilling, depending on the listener's mood.
Last year Sun finally released his first full-length album, One Hundred, a double-length set as eclectic and soulful as one of his Soular Grooves installments, only portable. In November, he became managing partner of The Flat, which he helped christen by importing his Rocksteady Monday nights from Cafe Brasil in 2005, and invited various Houston visual artists, designers and food auteurs (i.e., his friends) to give the chic Montrose lounge a complete makeover.
By now he has totally revamped the Flat's musical calendar to program genres as far-flung as experimental jazz, cutting-edge soul, Texas rap and classic house, as delivered by a variety of local DJs. Prestigious visitors including Toy Selectah, Tony Touch and Digable Planets mastermind King Britt have come through from time to time to perform at Sun's behest as well.
And then earlier this year, Sun also assumed the booking duties for the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston's Mixed Media soirees, bringing world-class electronic-music talents to the wildly popular monthlies. The move made perfect sense: Where else would an artist of this caliber belong besides a museum?
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