The inimitable, pioneering DJ and producer Kelli Hand, the First Lady of Detroit, has passed on. Our hearts go out to the family, friends and fans of K-Hand.
Kelli was a singular figure in dance music history, helping to lay the groundwork for Techno to take over the world. She blazed trails for women in a dominated space, and released music independently on her Acacia label named after the tree-lined west side Detroit street.
Rest in Power K-Hand 💜
The iconic image of K-Hand with her production equipment, 1999, taken by her mother
The Acacia Records entry in Mike Himes’ (Record Time) Guide to the Detroit Underground Pamphlet, c. 1994. http://detroitsound.org/artifact/mike-himes/
DJ Cent recounts K-Hand teaching her about DJing, as told to DSC in a 2014 interview for #recorddet http://detroitsound.org/artifact/dj-cent/
Interview conducted by Carleton Gholz
December 15, 2014 at the Urban Bean Coffee Co.
Gholz: DJ Cent, briefly describe who you are and your relationship to Detroit music.
Cent: Well, my real name is Cynthia Travis, aka DJ Cent. I’ve actually been around the dance scene, the club scene, forever. First off being a dancer, a clubber, so that actually gave me the chance to want to learn how to become a DJ. Just a quick short story, Kelli Hand was playing at Zipper’s on a Tuesday. I walked in and I have all these albums and I was like, “How are you putting this stuff together? How are you playing these records without any stoppage, like I do at home?” She was really cool, she was like, “If you think you want to get some equipment, and you do, so I’ll tell you what I’ll do, I’ll actually come by and help you set it up.” And I just thought, “Oh, she’s trying to just get me out of the DJ booth “‘cause I’m just being a groupie.” True enough, when I got my equipment in 1991, she came by the house and showed me how to put all my equipment together and actually got sound out of it. Which was amazing. And she looks and says, “You have all these records, what are you doing with all this music? Most people that I come and help set up have nothing. You have all kinds of records!”