Jesse Saunders is the architect of what we know as House Music. A Yahoo Search will return an unprecedented 5,000,000+ results! His Wikipedia entry is an amazing overview of the worldwide phenomenon known as House Music. Why is there so much information on this man? Jesse wrote, produced, performed, mixed and released the first documented House record, “ON & ON” on his upstart label JesSay Records, out of Chicago in 1984, which sparked the worldwide phenomenon ON & ON. He went on to have the first House record played on national radio in the USA and The U.K., "Funk U Up", and wrote and produced the world’s most covered and largest selling house single “Love Can’t Turn Around” – which topped the charts in more than 20 countries and secured the first major record deal for a House Music artist/producer DJ with Geffen/Warner Bros. Records in 1986.
During his 10 year stint at Geffen/Warner Bros. he produced and remixed such records as De La Soul “Me Myself and I”, Paula Abdul “Vibeology”, Gerardo “We Want The Funk”, Jermaine Stewart “Set Me Free (album)”, and the chart topping Simple Pleasure “Where do We Go From Here”. He went on to further build Chicago’s reputation as the birthplace of House within the Jive records system with his brother Wayne Williams with remixes on DJ Pierre “Come and Fly”; and Mr. Lee “Pump It”. In 2004, Jesse garnered a Grammy mention with his remixes of R. Kelly “Step In The Name of Love” and Eamon’s number 1 smash hit, “F *** It (I Don’t Want You Back)”.
Jesse has been featured in hundreds of books including the bestseller “What Kind Of House Party Is This?” by Jonathan Fleming (MixMag) and his own semi autobiography House Music “The Real Story”. He has co-starred in over 10 documentaries including the Sundance award winning “Modulations”, the Channel 4 (London) miniseries “Pump Up The Volume”, the BBC audio documentary “The 2nd Summer of Love” and the multiaward winning “Put The Needle on the Record”. He has had hundreds of features in every major industry magazine including Rolling Stone, MixMag, Urb and Keyboard. Jesse has lectured at top conferences, schools, colleges and universities throughout the world including The Red Bull Academy, Oxford University, Boston University, The Winter Music Conference (Miami), Popkom (Germany), The New Music Seminar (New York) and the Amsterdam Dance Event (Holland).
Jesse Saunders’ DJ performances are not only music to your ears, but a musical journey through the history and foundation of EDM, Electronica, House Music and Hip Hop, and their influences through popular music. House Music/EDM is known as a more underground sound, but its elements come from everyday popular music. Its origination is embedded in R&B, electronic Hip Hop such as Planet Rock (by Soul Sonic Force/Afrika Bambaata), Gospel, Jazz, New Wave and Classic Rock. So it’s no wonder that with all these influences you can’t help but love how Jesse manipulates the music to make it an experience that you won’t forget. It’s more of a DJ show than a DJ playing music.
Born and raised in Chicago, Illinois Jesse Saunders felt the groove to make people move at the early age of fifteen. He boasts an extensive record, CD and MP3 collection dating back to 1974 from R&B, Classic Rock, Hip Hop & Rap, Disco and Alternative. He says DJing is in his blood “a true DJ never grows out of it.” There’s nothing like the rush of controlling the crowd and having them yell for more. Jesse is an original member of the Chosen Few DJs whose annual House Music event in Chicago garners over 50,000 people from around the world! In 2015 the President of the United States, Barack Obama sent them a special video shout out in recognition of their achievements.
In 2016 that was followed up by a private invitation from the POTUS to meet at The White House!
Jesse has performed his magic in and promoted clubs from America to Africa, Europe and Asia. He began his career in Chicago spinning at places like high school dances and house parties, then graduated to bigger venues and clubs such as The Blue Gargoyle, First Impressions, Maclenda’s, Sauer’s, The Mansion, The Playground and DaVinci Manor; all cornerstones in the history of House Music. Quickly he moved to the next level, playing at New York’s auspicious Sound Factory, Tunnel, Danceteria, The Fun House and Palladium. The House phenomenon spread over the globe, with Jesse Saunders leading the way. He produces a syndicated radio show entitled “The Global House Show”. The show features broadcasts from clubs around the world including his “Real Story History Mix” that is highly influential. He went on to headline the biggest festivals and events all over the globe such as Germany’s May Day, Love Parade and Nature One, Switzerland’s Rave On Boat, London’s Tribal Gathering and in America Love Parade, Love Festival, Ultra, Together as One, Cyberfest and North Coast to name a few.
In 2004, Jesse celebrated 20 years of House Music with a world tour that spanned every hemisphere in the world and included 45 cities touching more than 1,000,000 people (sponsored by Numark/Alesis). Jesse has released 4 chart topping DJ mixed CDs including “The Jail Mix” (Warner Music1999), “Rave on Boat” (Warner Music2001), “Disco Royal” (Sony2003) and “The 20th Anniversary of House Music MIX” (Broken Records2004). He was also selected as a Grammy entrant nominee for his unprecedented Chicago Reunion Album in 1997 and his remixes of Eamon’s “F*** It (I Don’t Want You Back)” in 2005. His previous singles “Funk U Up (Original)”, “Funk U Up (Remix)”, “Real Love”, “Love Can’t Turn Around (ft Daryl Pandy)”, “Yeah/Let Me Hear U”, “Body Music”, “EveryBody”, “On & On” (twice 1984 and 2004), “Get Sum” (2005) and “Feelin Me” (2006/2008), “Luv 2 Luv U”, “Excited” (2008), “In The Heat of Passion” (2009 & rereleased in 2016), “Body Muzik” and “Weekend” (from the album House Muzik) (2009) have all topped charts and broken barriers in the EDM and Dance charts from Billboard and TraxSource to Beatport and iTunes.
2009 was a milestone of 25 years since the origination of Chicago’s House Music phenomenon. To celebrate, Jesse, along with Red Stripe as a sponsor, embarked on the 25th Anniversary of House Music Tour. The tour consisted of Jesse mixing his “Real Story” documentary LIVE on Pioneer DVJ1000s, the first ever House Music art exhibit and an awards ceremony, which recognised the pioneer in each city that was most influential in making House Music happen in that particular city. The tour hit over 25 cities worldwide including London, Johannesburg (South Africa) and of course Chicago! The tour continues as a celebration to this day in the form of the “ART of the DJ Tour”.
2010 brought a philanthropic milestone for Jesse. After the 25th Anniversary of House Music Tour and its overwhelming success in spreading the spirit and love for the world’s most endearing style of music, Jesse decided to build a shrine, tribute and art museum known as the Electronic Music Café, which houses the travelling exhibit from the tour and is the foundation for the first ever musically inspired art gallery. Jesse’s plan is to franchise the Art & Music Gallery/Café across the USA and abroad in the mould of Hard Rock Café. The tour has already garnered rave reviews and plentiful video footage, which makes this project a hot commodity.
But Jesse didn’t stop there. He has instituted the Music Arts & Society, Inc. whose goal is to preserve the historical and artistic foundation of today’s pop music known as Electronic Music; which has its roots in the prolific genres of yesterday (i.e. Blues, Jazz, Rock and roll, New Wave and Disco). This supports the greater community by teaching the youth how to navigate the music and art industry through creative, educational and practical programs. Through the Music & Arts Society, Jesse produced SPINEvolution of the DJ exhibit which available for bookings worldwide.
In 2011, Jesse began building his syndicated Radio Network under the banner of the Electronic Music Café. It features stations with Soul, meaning they play only the music that inspires and is well produced and arranged. Anyone with a promotion of programming background can now own and run their own station! Each network is a specific format designed to give you the experience that you cannot find anywhere.
In 2012, Jesse introduced and produced the Pure House Music Festival which was the first ever roots festival highlighting the pioneers that have made the genre what it is today! The 100% Pure House Music Tour brand has gone on to highlight and feature the best DJs performing and competing for supremacy!
In 2013, Jesse was featured in the Societe Perrier feature “Respect: 50 DJs Over 50 Still Killing It!” 36 years after he received the calling, Jesse is still giving you the best in House Music with the release of his “Old Skool/New Skool” album on Broken Records featuring the hit single “Now That We Found Love”. Jesse also donated his original masters to Columbia College for research purposes for their students.
2014 began the 30th Anniversary of "On & On"! For this anniversary, Jesse decided to do a special tribute in cities across the USA including Chicago, Nashville, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Austin, Madison and Las Vegas. One of the most amazing features to come out of the celebration has been the House Head Wall. On this wall everyone across the globe can represent their city and show their love for House Music! Jesse also released the “30th Anniversary” album on Good For You Records.
2015 was another milestone for Jesse and his Chosen Few Brothers. They celebrated their 25th anniversary of their House Music Reunion Picnic in Chicago. Alderman Leslie Hairston (City Council Member) presented them with their own street sign marking their place in Chicago history.
In 2016, Jesse continues to tour and spread his message for the love of House Music and the environment. He released the Top 20 single “Sunshine (featuring Dani Ivory)” on Open Bar Music. He brought forth the proposal for the Sustenance Community. The project details building sustainable, off the grid housing and farming for the music and arts community to prosper and thrive, and to provide an arts and music venue for their expression and spiritual healing. It will use only repurposed materials and residents will share in the income generated from the community thereby eliminating the need to work in traditional society.
With credentials such as these, to say that Jesse Saunders is an icon is an understatement. His message of education, love, peace and harmony through feel good music has been recognised by the Mayors of Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco and Albuquerque with proclamations for his own day in those cities. As a matter of fact, he has received another from the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois as recently as July 7, 2012. Paul Allen’s Experience Music Project in Seattle, Washington has inducted Jesse into the musical archives of their museum. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra has done the same with his book. His book is required reading material for colleges and universities all over the world. The Chicago Cultural Museum featured Jesse and his accomplishments in their House Music Exhibit, as well as the Harold Washington Library.
With all these accomplishments, it’s easy to understand why Jesse is recognised as not only the originator of House Music, and various styles of Electronic and Dance Muisc, but its Ambassador as well.