Born: October 11, 1992 Primary Instrument: Sax, alto
As is the case with many extraordinary musicians, Demetrius DJ Turner began his journey into the music world at an early age. As a present for his 10th birthday, DJ received his first saxophone from his grandfather, Vewiser J. Turner Sr., himself a saxophonist, flutist, and a top musician in the Houston, Texas area.
This gift was of particular significance to Turner, because his beloved grandfather had just been diagnosed with terminal cancer. So, unlike many birthday gifts, DJ's sax did not end up in the hall closet gathering dust. Instead, Turner obviously immersed himself in learning to play his new instrument, because just 3 years later he would perform in front of a crowd of 20,000 at Madison Square Garden. It was the opening game of the season for the New York Knicks basketball team and part of the pre-game entertainment was a children's talent contest. At age 13, in front of this large crowd that could have intimidated even many professional musicians, DJ exuded the confidence that continues to characterize his performances and won 1st Place.
You would logically assume that playing Madison Square Garden would far surpass all other achievements by this young musician, who had yet to reach age 14. However, that same year (2005) Turner also played at the Apollo Theater, winning 1st Place in a talent contest at the very venue which also launched the careers of James Brown, Michael Jackson, and Stevie Wonder. And, Turner’s meteoric 13th year of life also included a performance at the United Nations in New York City.
In 2006, Turner became the youngest recipient ever of the John Coltrane Scholarship Award, and received the Musical Excellence Award from the National Organization for the Arts. One highlight from 2007 was his performance at a fundraiser for the Marian Wright-Edelman (Children’s Defense Fund) Library which was attended by Senator Hillary Clinton. Another from that same year was his performance at the National Association for Home Care & Hospice's 20th Annual Caring Awards in Washington, DC, attended by Senator Robert Dole.
Turner has performed at numerous jazz festivals and met several jazz greats including Herbie Hancock and Kenny Garrett. He has also played along side Odean Pope, Max Roach's saxophonist for 23 years. Turner’s performance at the Telluride Jazz Festival with the Young Jazz Razzcals Project (a group based in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and led by musician and educator Dave Adams) was preceded by performance stops in New Mexico and Silverton, Colorado.
At age 15 (2008), Turner continues to “wow” crowds as large as 20,000, providing the opening music for Senator Barack Obama’s Presidential campaign rally in Wilmington, Delaware. His impressive performance at that rally resulted in a subsequent performance by Turner and his current band, Jumpin’ Off A Clef, at a Barack Obama fundraiser in Downingtown, Pennsylvania.
Jumpin Off a Clef is composed of young musicians who met at the Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz and Performing Arts, in south Philly. It was there that DJ’s playing really started to “take off” after he began taking lessons from Lovett Hines and Ray Wright, both top music educators in the Philadelphia area. Jumpin’ Off A Clef also includes Ben Sutin (electric violin), Justin Faulkner (drums), James Santangelo, Jr. (piano), and Erik Kramer (bass).
The most sought after young jazz entertainer in the Delaware Valley, The National Organzation for the Arts, Delaware Chapter Young Artist Showcase, April, 2007
Unbelievably skilled, Kennett Square Magazine, April, 2007
An up and coming jazz musician, Cameron Jazz Journals #35, March, 2004
A wonderful talent, Dr. Faye Motivational Hour, Comcast Television Philadelphia, PA July, 2007
A gifted musician, Front Royal, VA, Rotary Club, October, 2007
This young man has some serious innate talent, Delaware News Journal, August,2006