Senior Spotlight: Dillon Jordan, Weaver Academy

When Dillon Jordan stands between two turntables, he becomes DJ Dillon Jam.

Vinyl records are his instruments. With his head down and a collection of rubber bracelets of many colors trailing up his right wrist, his fingers dance from one turntable to the next in split-second speed.

Dillon is definitely in his happy place. He marries beats between two songs or uses his crossfader to scratch as he stop-starts a familiar melody or lyric and catches the attention of everyone in front of him.

Dillon looks up and scans the crowd. But really, he’s looking for one person.

He’s wants to find one person bobbing their head, tapping their feet or singing every lyric they know. For Dillon, that one person is his party meter. If that one person is plugged into the soundscape Dillon creates, he knows he’s on.

Dillon has been a DJ since he was 8, and he and his dad run their own DJ business, Sounds By Jordan. At Weaver Academy, he studied music production, and when he graduates Sunday afternoon, he’ll take his talents to Elon University.

He’ll major in Music Production and Recording Arts and enter Elon as an Odyssey Scholar. Coupled with the Presidential and Fellow Scholarships, these highly selective, merit-based programs will cover Dillon’s every college expense. It also will give him multiple opportunities to explore what he can do career-wise with what he loves.

He already has an idea. Music has been a part of him since before he was born.


The Roots of a Beginning

In his personal essay he sent to Elon, Dillon wrote:

“You see, while in my mom’s womb, my family called me “DJ” because of my initials.  When I was 8 months old, I would crawl to my dad’s CD cabinet and carefully play with each CD; and, at the age of 1, I would beat, in rhythm, on the table as I ate my food.”

By age 2, Dillon was singing Cheryl Lynn’s 1978 hit, “Got to Be Real.” By the time he started at Jefferson Elementary, he’d listen to the radio and pretend to be a radio personality –– until he heard the radio mixes from a DJ.

“Hearing songs blended to become one while accompanied with additional scratching was magical to me,” he wrote in his personal statement. “I enjoyed listening to DJ radio mixes so much that I memorized the DJs’ radio schedules. Soon, pretending to be a radio personality was replaced with me roleplaying to be a DJ.”

Dillon turned into a human beat box. He began clapping his hands to imitate different sounds and make what he calls “funny noises” to imitate the sound of scratching. But he wanted to do more than turn his body into an instrument, and when he was 8, he had a wish.

For Christmas, he asked for a DJ controller. It’s both a turntable and a mixer, armed with software that can mix music by using only a computer. He had no idea what he was doing. But he was willing to learn. So, he became his own teacher.


Weaver Is Real

Dillon turned his bedroom into his workshop. For five years, he watched videos on YouTube and practiced in his room constantly to sharpen his DJ chops for the gigs he and his dad were scoring with Sounds By Jordan.

His dad, Anthony, works as an appliance repair specialist for a family-owned company in High Point, and he had never been a DJ before he and Dillon started their business. But he did know his music.

He and his wife, Dee, a longtime educator who serves as the AG Coordinator for the academically gifted program with Guilford County Schools, had quite the record collection. Dillon and his older sister, Micayla, both grew up listening to everything from Prince to Kenny Rogers.

Dillon began mixing his own hip-hop tastes with his parents’ old-school collection during his sets with Sounds By Jordan. He and his dad booked several events each year, everything from weddings to birthday celebrations. Along the way, Dillon learned how to run a business.

By the time Dillon reached fifth grade, he began hearing about a school in Greensboro called Weaver. He didn’t believe what he heard at first. He thought that sort of thing only existed on TV.

“You get to go to school to make music?” Dillon asked his mom.

His mom said yes.


‘You Got This’

“OK,” Dillon told himself, “I’ve gotta kill this!”

Standing in the living room, in a bright orange Polo he wore often at Kiser Middle, Dillon was getting ready to play his alto sax. With his hands sweaty and his nerves on edge, he kept looking at the videographer with the iPhone.

The videographer was Dillon’s mom.

“You got this,” she told him. “Try your best.”

It’s not that Dillon wasn’t ready for his audition tape to get into Weaver. He played alto sax with the band at Kiser, and as an eighth-grader, he was auditioning by playing a piece he knew.

But he felt the video had to be flawless, no mess-ups, nailed in one take. Dillon wanted to get into Weaver really bad. It was because of a visit a few months before.

He spent three hours at Weaver, sat down with Howell “Howie” Ledford, the school’s music production instructor, and created a beat with the school’s music production software.

Right then, Dillon realized what could happen if he went to Weaver. His audition video, he knew, was the key.

Dillon’s audition tape included the tune he played on his alto sax and the beat he created with the help of a MIDI keyboard owned by Jerry Albritton; the man Dillon calls “Mr. Jerry.” He ran the soundboard at his church, Mount Zion Baptist Church.

 But was his audition video good enough?

Dillon soon found out.

“I remember what I was doing,” Dillon says today. “I was lying in bed, and my mom came in saying, ‘You got in!’ and I was like, ‘Huh?’ Then, I got out of bed quickly. I read the letter and kept thinking, ‘Weaver will allow me to create every day.’”


The Wonders of Weaver

Weaver became Dillon’s creative playground. He incorporated the skills he learned in class and helped on the production side and created soundtracks for school performances such as the school’s talent shows known as WAPO, or Weaver Academy Performance Opportunities.

He also became a Weaver Ambassador and gave tours to prospective students and their families. He got involved because he believed in what Weaver represented and what it had done for students like himself.

“Weaver isn’t like any other high school,” he’d tell students and their families on the tour. “You’ll find the people you can rock with, and you’ll get great support from everybody. Stay true to what you believe, and you’ll be alright.”

Dillon learned that firsthand.

This past year, he became the vice president of the Weaver Ambassadors and helped organize events. Meanwhile, Dillon and his dad were booking more events with the help of the business skills Dillon learned from Weaver’s Career Technical Education programs[DJ1] .

But more events came their way because Dillon had gotten more talented as a DJ. 

And he had help.


Finding Heroes

When he was a seventh-grader, Dillon sent a private message on Instagram to Morgan McKenzie, a then on-air personality at WJMH (102.1 FM), better known as 102 JAMZ.

“What do I have to do to come up there one day?” he asked her.

“Give me your parents’ information,” McKenzie told Dillon, “and we’ll try to work things out.”

Dillon had no idea if his private message worked or if McKenzie contacted his parents. Then, one day after being worn out from his long day at Kiser Middle, Dillon told his parents he was going to get a shower and go to bed. His parents, though, had other ideas.

 “We’re about to go to 102,” they told him.

McKenzie had arranged for Dillon to visit the station and meet J-Flex and Lil’ Vegas, two of the station’s DJs that Dillon idolized.

“Vegas and Flex still tease me to this day about how nervous I was,” Dillon says. “I was sitting in the corner, being all shy, because they were superstars in my eyes. But they gave me their numbers that night, and that built the relationship we have now.”

Six months after connecting with Vegas and Flex, Dillon went to DJ Café in Charlotte to show off his skills. When he got there, he heard someone was interested in meeting “the young kid getting into DJing.”

 That someone was Mell Starr, a well-known DJ from New York City.

Since that fateful seventh-grade year, all three DJs have mentored Dillon. Starr taught him the importance of practicing, Vegas advised Dillon to branch out into different kinds of music, and Flex taught him how to create a set that people will remember.

Five years ago, Flex sold Dillon a set of turntables in mint condition. Dillon still uses those turntables today. And for Dillon, those two turntables and the vinyl records he uses are an aural and mechanical metaphor of the life he wants to lead.

It’s in his personal statement he sent to Elon. He wrote:

“I look at the reflection in the vinyl spinning on my turntables and I see, staring back at me, a young man who has evolved from watching YouTube videos to self-teach himself the art of blending to a college bound student who is seeking a major that will allow me to combine my love of music, my skillset as a DJ, and my desires to positively impact my community.

“I cannot predict all that will happen, during my time at Elon University, but what I am sure of is that music will continue to be my challenge, my lifeline, and my peace.”


‘The Next Deal’

Dillon has won DJ battles, played for bigger crowds and become a mentor to up-and-coming DJs at BackSpinz, a nonprofit music academy in Charlotte.

He has DJed and filled in for shows on 102 JAMZ. He also has earned daily weekday slots on two internet radio stations, Jams Old School Radio and FUBU Radio. At Jams Old School Radio, he’s at 5 p.m. with the “Drive @ 5 Mix;” at FUBU, he’s at 10 p.m. for two hours of the “Money Bag Mix Show.”

DJ Dillon Jam is busy.

In June 2022, while Dillon was being interviewed on “Rockwell Radio Show," a YouTube show filmed just outside Atlanta, DJ Mell Starr stepped from off camera and into the frame to give Dillon an unsolicited shout-out.

“This is the next Mell Starr, but better,” he said, pointing at Dillon. “You got to pay attention to this guy right now. This kid right here is the next deal.”

Dillon’s bedroom is still his music workshop. Almost every month or so, he uploads a video on Instagram of him performing his craft in front of his wall covered with hip-hop royalty like Tupac Shakur and A Tribe Called Quest, Jay-Z and The Notorious B.I.G.

Dillon creates the video by putting his iPhone on a tripod. Then, he begins. Head down.  Head bobbing in rhythm. Fingers dancing from turntable to turntable.

That, he knows, won’t stop.