America, meet 12-year-old Bayou City DJ wunderkind Maddy Rose.
The preteen tune spinner, Maddy Rose Johnston, has been making waves in the Houston scene and will take it to the next level, making her nationwide debut on ABC’s Good Morning America on May 1. She is a seventh-grade student of St. Vincent de Paul Catholic School and in her spare time, she likes “to play video games and play with her dog,” she tells CultureMap.
Maddy got the invite to join Robin Roberts, Michael Strahan, and George Stephanopoulos on one of the biggest morning shows in the country following a call for viewers to submit kids doing great things during the current global health crisis. Now she’ll have a national platform, one she’ll put to good use, turning the opportunity into a way to raise money for those in need.
“At first, she was just DJing for friends and family and then she got asked to be on GMA,” says her mother, Wendy Johnston. “She decided because she might have a big audience, that she should use it for something beneficial, and that’s when she came up with No Kid Hungry.”
Maddy Rose will use the platform to encourage people to donate to nonprofit No Kid Hungry. Her goal is to raise $5,000 through her live streaming performances, Friday Night DJ Lights, available to dance along to on her Twitch handle, DJMaddyRose, on which she blasts Miley Cyrus, Eminem, and Ludacris, and her favorite current artist, hometown hero, Lizzo.
No Kid Hungry specifically targets the 22 million low-income kids across the country that rely on free and reduced meals at school. Since schools are closed across the country, many children are struggling to find nutritious meals.
The agency, whose main office location is in Washington, D.C., works with federal and local government to support children in need, diverting resources to the hardest-hit communities. They also use a communications network for families to find meals while schools are closed.
“Millions of vulnerable children in America are losing the healthy meals they depend on as the coronavirus closes schools nationwide, but that’s not stopping us from getting kids the critical meals they need to thrive,” said Carla Warner, the Director of Revenue Innovation for the No Kid Hungry campaign. “We’re working hard to provide emergency grants to schools and community organizations feeding hungry kids. Funds raised by amazing champions like DJ Maddy Rose will help us provide vulnerable kids with nutritious food during this time of crisis, and as we support them during the recovery phase.”
Those who wish to donate to the mixing wizard’s efforts can do so at her No Kid Hungry page. At the of time of publishing this story, she’s raised $2,680, just over halfway to her goal.
“As most of you know, many people have lost their jobs and children are not in school, which has led to even more starving children,” Maddy Rose said on her fundraising page. “It makes me sad to think that a kid has to worry about when they will get their next meal.
As for DJ Maddy Rose, her side hustle isn’t a gimmick — although to purists and plain jealous music heads, it might look that way. She has the support and mentorship of some of the most established DJs in town, including DJ Gonz, DJ SoulStar, and DJ Senega — the latter who books her through his Premier Sound and Lighting collective.
“I just love playing music and technology,” she says, her set up including Numark CDJs, a mixer, and laptop, which she has put to use with a few dozen gigs over the past year.
Taken under the wing of Senega when she was 11 years old, she quickly made a name for herself, playing high-end parties in the River Oaks District and charity events, which she cited as her personal favorite to play. Her first gig outside of spinning for friends was the Arts of Healing event for the Sunshine Kids nonprofit, performing for children being treated as cancer patients.
Before the shelter-in-place orders were put into place, she took lessons every week, working on her scratching skills with DJ Gonz. She continues to practice at home, ready to play in front of crowds that are sure to get larger as her fame grows. Appearing on Good Morning America is a darn good start.
Her goals for the future?
“I want to make it a career and play for big artists,” says the young DJ, the world in front of her.