New York-born, Florida made, DJ Winn proves that with motivation, humility, perseverance, and drive you can succeed. From being an artist and rocking crowds to breaking records and philanthropy, DJ Winn has done it all, but when you ask him if he is finished, he leaves you with these three words…“Watch Me Work”!
Many psychologists suggest that physical and mental abuse, drug addiction and social dysfunctions are learned behaviors taught by parents and passed down to the children. Those affected by these dire situations are likely to pass them on through the generations.
While most people continue on this downward spiral of hopelessness and despair, St. Petersburg, Fla.-based DJ Winn decided a long time ago to break this cycle of self-destruction. Surviving extreme poverty, physical cruelty and abandonment, he used his harrowing hardships as catalysts to overcome the childhood traumas of growing up in more than 200 different foster homes.
Despite his seemingly insurmountable sufferings, DJ Winn has amassed mountains of success. More than two decades strong in the music industry, he has spun records in some of the hottest nightclubs in the Sunshine State, toured the country as road DJ for several artists and helped propel the careers of countless artists such as YFN Lucci, Lil Baby and the late Young Dolph, to name a few. Added to that, he has released well over 1000 mixtapes and street DVDs and two full-length albums Slim Chance and Thankful.
In 2021, Winn left secular music and committed himself to doing God’s work. He became a motivational speaker. Offering inspiration, encouragement, and hope to those who have endured similar situations, he shares his stories in prisons, in churches and in schools to show others the power of perseverance. Most recently, he became tour DJ for Christian hip-hop artist Rare of Breed.
“Look at everything that God has brought me through. I overcame so much. I survived. I didn’t make excuses,” DJ Winn contends. “Nothing has been more meaningful doing God's work by spreading His word.”
Born the second of four children in Rochester, NY, Winn came into this world with the odds stacked up against him. Raised in the projects in extreme poverty, he witnessed his father abuse his mother at an early age. His mother would then pass the beatings on to him and his siblings.
“We were so poor that we used to dumpster dive at night to collect cans to sell to get food the next day,” he recalls.
Winn’s only escape from his world of violence and poverty was music. He had been in love with the sound of music for as long as he could remember. The best day of his young life was when his mother scraped up enough money to buy him a boom box. He and his siblings spent hours with their ears glued to the speakers.
His love for music only intensified when his mother relocated the family to Florida when he was about 10 years old. He was heavily influenced by legendary Ft. Lauderdale DJ crew Jam Pony Express.
By this time, however, his mother was in another abusive relationship with his stepfather. So when the pressures of raising children and being a wife got too much to endure, he and his siblings ended up in the foster home system. Winn was only 12 years old.
“My mom pretty much abandoned us at the place,” Winn divulges. “She said she was going to come back but that day she never came back.”
Winn wouldn’t see his mother again until he was 15 years old when she came back to the foster home to retrieve her children. “By that time, I was already wild, running away, selling drugs, getting into trouble,” Winn admits.
As a result, he was right back in custody of the state and spent the next three years being shuffled from foster home to foster home. But even though his life was on a one-way rollercoaster ride to hell or jail, Winn took his extra money to invest in DJ equipment. As early as 14 years old, he started DJing and selling his own mixtapes, and by age 16, he was DJing local house parties. On his 18th birthday, he was given $600 and kicked out of the foster home system.
By the grace of God, he landed his first gig spinning at a nightclub at age 18 and hasn’t looked back since. He eventually got into radio, doing mix shows in various cities as well as toured all over the country, helping him to build up his giant network of DJs and artists.
Along the way, he also mastered filmmaking, video editing, and motion graphics. “When I was growing up in a foster home, I never took the attitude of the world owed me something,” Winn testifies. “God gave me the gift to make anything I focus on happen.”
Winn’s world came crashing down about 10 years ago when his mother was murdered in cold blood. She was stabbed 13 times. “When my mom got killed, I was numb for four years and then the next six years I went through a rollercoaster of depression,” he describes. “I just worked and worked and worked.”
To help ease the agony in his life, Winn always found solace in God. He gave his life to Christ as a child living in foster care. “I wasn’t living right after then,” he admits, “but God has always been pulling at my heart.”
Because of that constant heart pull, he retired from DJing in clubs in 2020. He hosts food and clothing drives for the homeless, started motivational speaking and mentors local youths as a part of My Brother’s Keeper, an initiative started by former Pres. Barack Obama to address opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color.
“The youth need it,” DJ Winn contends. “I try to spread positivity and pay it forward. I guess that’s why God has favored me…Just to be here, I know I got a purpose in life.”