Grand County DJ spins youth in positive direction |

Grand County DJ spins youth in positive direction

by Cyndi McCoycmccoy@grandcountynews.comGrand County, Colorado

Hearing about a youth living a positive life is music to Larry Normans ears.Through music, mentoring, and a variety of cultural and educational activities, Norman, a.k.a. DJ Normski, has made it his goal to see that teens have positive life options.For almost a decade living in Hilltop, Wash., he witnessed first-hand the effects of a rough neighborhood gangs, drugs, unemployment and a decline in student achievement. After several shootings, Norman started playing music at parks to get people together to calm down and discuss the issues. Residents started to take notice and Norman said his audience grew to around 100 people, laughing, crying and learning to cope with adversity.He was inspired to come to Grand County by the late B.J. Gray, who had been heading the Granby Boy Scout program. When faced with serious health issues he knew he couldnt overcome, Gray asked his new friend to make sure the boys, including his own two, were looked after. (With Normans guidance and musical knowledge, one of Grays sons, Winter, has also become a DJ.)It was a tough torch to take, but one Norman took with great honor. He had served with the Boy Scouts 2001-2003 in Washington and continues to help shape the men and women of tomorrow as the director for the Grand County Center 4 Excellence.Normans first AM radio ignited his long-time passion for music. By his teen years, he had an impressive album collection of 45s and said he could Name That Tune with the best of them.He attended public and private schools growing up in Tacoma, Wash., and immediately launched into the U.S. Air Force after graduation. It was there that he first started DJ-ing with George Luster. They played R&B, funk and old-school in Las Vegas, Nev. and went on to produce a rap song that went national.Back in Hilltop, the success of his park performances led to the beginnings of KTOP 23.187, a PA-system radio station that broadcasted each day out his window. We provided music and information to all the people that were in the streets, and helped take the edge off the day with words of encouragement, he said. Rappers would come by to get on the mic and eventually, Norman said, they recorded a CD called Nutnbutluv, featuring about 23 artists.He started spinning again New Years Eve 2003 at the Crooked Creek Saloon and took on gigs at Buckets (with seven other local DJs) in January 2004. Since then, hes played all over Grand County, including at big events like the Spring Splash, Fraser Fourth of July and the FunkFest. Many of them have been benefits. I like the fact of having music offered on behalf of a cause, Norman said. Grand County is ridiculous when it comes to volunteers. The entire music community deserves to be nominated for an award for all they do to support this community.The events are meant for a good time, but also bring awareness to a cause, and financially support the needs of the community and programs that seek to achieve academic excellence in our youth. For those aspiring DJs out there, Norman said, The important thing is to be open-minded, and willing to appreciate other forms of music other than your own. Educate yourself to the history of music, in all its forms. Granted, DJ-ing can sometimes pay the bills, but it is the true love for music and watching folks have a good time that keeps me spinnin.

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