11-year-old DJ Marley scratches her way to fame while helping others

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While most elementary school students are just learning the fundamentals such as reading and writing, or doing last-minute homework corrections in the hallway, Marley Desinord has been rocking crowds as big as 60,000 since she was 8. While still learning school subjects, she was spinning turntables, learning mixing, setting up speakers, scratching hip-hop records and making the beats drop.

Three years later, the now 11-year-old and turntable whiz from Pompano Beach has shown off her skills scratching, cutting and fading in front of crowds at venues, sports games and concerts.

“We’d go to Dolphins games all the time,” said Marley’s father Rodney Desinord. “She’d see the reaction the DJ got from the crowds, and after getting her a controller and software she started learning and took off.”

While cheering the home team Miami Dolphins, the father-daughter duo would also attend the tailgate events in which Marley noticed the DJs in the parking lot playing music for everyone. Then she repeatedly asked her father for DJ equipment.

DJ Marley commands the court for her performance during the Miami Heat's halftime show.

DJ Marley commands the court for her performance during the Miami Heat’s halftime show. (Rodney Desinord / Courtesy)

“She annoyed me enough to say, ‘OK, I’ll buy you a starter controller and you can use my old computer with software on it,” Rodney said. “She also started using YouTube to guide her.”

Her hours of practice became a habit and she began making videos of her music mixes on Instagram and YouTube, which is where Marley caught the attention of the Miami Dolphins CEO Tom Garfinkel.

After seeing a video of Marley on Twitter, Garfinkel contacted her parents. Garfinkel asked them if the then 8-year-old could perform at the August 2018 halftime show of the Miami Dolphins against the Baltimore Ravens.

“They were contacting us to set up with the date and the time and it was crazy,” Rodney said. “But at that juncture, she just turned 8 and I remember before she went up there she was really nervous.

“But once they called her name, she went up there and did it,” he said.

Once Marley was in her meditative mode, her tiny fingers flew across the turntable as she created a sizzling landscape of electric audio effects for the 60,000 people in the stadium.

Playing hit pop and hip-hop songs from the 1980s and ‘90s, Marley’s first big performance at the halftime show led to getting an offer to DJ for the clothing line release at Foot Locker for DJ Khaled’s son Asahd Khaled and also being a brand ambassador for Puma. She also has been for the Miami Heat’s halftime show, Disney movie premieres and opened for the Black Eyed Peas in Miami.

“One day when Marley was in a studio the Black Eyed Peas were there prepping for a showing at Bayside Marketplace,” Rodney said. “They met her and loved her and the promoter of that event didn’t have an opening act. So someone mentioned DJ Marley and the band was like, ‘yes, we like her.’”

Marley is also a regular DJ and host for the Miami Heat. Arena host Dale McLean announces her to the crowd and he has also been a mentor for Marley helping her with stage presence.

Marley has visited Los Angeles where she was a DJ for the movie premiere of the Disney-released movie “Spin.” While she was there she had the opportunity to meet legendary producer and CEO of The Recording Academy Harvey Mason Jr. Marley was part of a group based out of Los Angeles called “Girls Make Beats” that went to the producer’s studio and learned what it took to continue to pursue her early career choice.

DJ Marley worked with CEO of The Recording Academy Harvey Mason Jr. while visiting Los Angeles.

DJ Marley worked with CEO of The Recording Academy Harvey Mason Jr. while visiting Los Angeles. (Rodney Desinord / Courtesy)

She recently did a four-hour charity performance at the Peter Blum YMCA of Boca Raton’s Shoot for a Change for free to help raise funds for families in need in the community. The event is part of the YMCA’s Y Financial Assistance program.

Marley played music as kids and adults took part in the free-throw basketball fundraiser with a tournament, raffles and prizes.

“I had to get involved with helping the community,” Marley said. “One-hundred percent of it and every single penny will go toward helping those families.”

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She also has performed for Homeless Hearts in Pompano Beach to help raise awareness for those who need help with food, shelter and other essentials.

“If she saw someone on the side of the road for instance that needed money or food, from at 3 and 4 years old, she’d ask if we could help them,” Rodney said. “So without any hesitation for these types of events, she said she wants to do it and help.”

Marley said she wants to continue to grow her talents and be an inspiration to girls who want to be in the music industry, which can be intimidating because it is often male-dominated. When old enough, she said she hopes to also perform at the Rolling Loud music festival.

“Never allow anyone to tell you that your dream is ridiculous or impossible,” she said. “When I first started, I heard that a lot from people. Even some adults said that I should focus on something different. My entire family stuck by me, encouraged my dreams, and you’re never too young to chase your dreams.”

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