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Meet Callie Dee of Red Empire/DDFW Master of the Mic

Today we’d like to introduce you to Callie Dee.

Callie, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I’ve always enjoyed music. As a kid (before the internet) I would listen to records, tapes, and the radio. We would watch MTV when there were actual music videos playing all day, not reality TV. Music really shaped me and also provided an escape. I was in choir and on the Dance Team. I was always good but not GREAT at singing and dancing so to be honest I never expected to have a future “in music”. When burning CDs became a thing I would download all my friends’ CDs and then make mixtapes. If you broke up with your person, I made a mixtape, traveling somewhere? Mixtape. New stereo/speaker system? Mixtape to check out the bass. I can’t remember a time in my life where Music didn’t play a role.

My little brother is a talented musician, so when I was going through a divorce around 30, I started going out to support him and fell in love with the local music scene. I partnered with a local nonprofit, Keep Fort Worth Funky, and planned my first show at the Wherehouse in the Magnolia area. Shortly after that I started throwing Hip Hop Shows. After a few years I joined and then bought Red Empire where I helped manage up and coming artists and book them on shows. Red Empire also works closely with talent buyers, venues, hosts and DJs. Basically if someone has a need I try to help fill it.

I’ve also started a few other brands, DDFW Master of the Mic is in its 4th year and is a yearlong competition that takes place in Denton, Dallas and Fort Worth. Right Round Productions is my talent buying brand, and then I have a media company, Out the Box, that will be picking back up shortly with podcasts, vlogs and blogs. If you follow me on Instagram #hiphopsoccermom and #adventureswithCallieDee are regular hashtags that chronicle my life at home, at work and on the road.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Nothing that is worth it is easy.

People want to see you do good but a lot of people can’t stand for you to do better than them or do well without them. I would have to say that’s been the biggest struggle. Hip Hop is also not the easiest place for a white female. I LOVE the hip hop culture. I study it, I respect it, I try to represent all four elements in most of the shows I do when I can. However, when a rapper (mostly) gets upset because I wouldn’t put them on a show or whatever thing it is that I’ve done or said upsets them, Culture Vulture is the “go to”. Also I’m a female so what I wear, who I sleep with/how sexually active I am, and how drunk I get out and about are always topics of conversation to discredit me. As a single mom and a talent buyer, money would get tight if a show didn’t do so well. As the saying goes, what doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger and being in the music industry has given me some pretty tough skin. If there’s a name to be called, I’ve been called it. My personal life has been used to embarrass me publicly, I’ve been the subject of a rap battle, I’ve had personal screenshots posted, and the list goes on. At the end of the day, though, I’ve met some really amazing people and have been part of some really amazing events and ideas!

Please tell us about Red Empire/DDFW Master of the Mic.
Red Empire manages and books artists. We also consult with artists, venues, and talent buyers and fill in any gaps to help an event or night go as smoothly as possible. Red Empire has been on the nominating committee for Fort Worth Weekly the last 5 years for the FW Weekly Music Awards and has participated in the Dallas Observer Music Awards the last 2 years. We specialize in up and coming artists, artists that are new to the area and need to get their foot in the door. In the last 9 months one of our artists has gone from playing a few shows here and there to having steady paid gigs and being one of the go to for talent buyers to put on events with national touring artists. We keep good relationships with the local publications and in return have been able to get artists written about and noticed across the metroplex.

DDFW Master of the Mic is in its 4th year. Each year the winner has gone to do bigger and better things, so I’d like to think we have a way of highlighting and cultivating talent. The first year was iconic and I’ve tried to figure out a way to top it. We had Erykah Badu, The DOC and Dorrough judge the finale at Trees. Since then DOC has judged the last 2 years’ finale and we’ve had Mr. Pookie, Lil Flip, Jah Born, Picnictyme, Paco, Abstract Rude, and Ras Kass as special guests/judges. Each year the community comes together and gives the winner a great “starter pack” with T-shirts printed with their logo, graphic design, consultations, press, shows, money, clothes, professional photos, and more. It really is a labor of love and nothing is better than having the community show out every year.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
That’s a tough question.

I would have listened more. I would have been slower at pulling the trigger on some events. I would have sought out mentors and studied with them longer before jumping into all the roles I’ve played.

With that said though, my mentors wouldn’t have been interested in what I was doing without my having done it, if that makes sense. Going through the motions and learning on my own has introduced me to far more quality of people than anything else.

There are definitely some relationships I wish I would have stayed away from personally and professionally. But again, what does not kill us just makes us stronger. I definitely would have cared less about what others think/say and would have reacted less to negativity.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Drewlio Photo
Russel in Motion (Just the group shot)

Getting in touch: VoyageDallas is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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