Feel the beat: DJ Mimi

DJ Mimi is Maria Testa in studio portrait
DJ Mimi is Maria Testa in studio portrait
Artist and advocate DJ Mimi talks about the healing power of music and its role in her activism 

Over the years, artists and performing artists have tried to define what music means to them. For Ed Sheeran, “Music is a powerful tool in galvanizing people around an issue.” Eminem hopes that people find in his music “motivation to know that anything is possible as long as [they] keep working at it and don’t back down.” And Sir Elton John believes that “Music has healing power.”

Together with Celine Dion and Billy Joel, Ed Sheeran and Sir Elton John have inspired the work of performer and LGBTQ advocate, DJ Mimi. A quote posted on her page, DJ Mimi — Master of Music, declares, “Music is life. That’s why our hearts have beats.”

DJ Mimi with actor/celebrity host Ron B. during "No Boundaries Up Close and Personal" at Manhattan Neighborhood Network show
DJ Mimi with actor/celebrity host Ron B. during “No Boundaries Up Close and Personal” at Manhattan Neighborhood Network show

Commenting further, DJ Mimi says the beat of a song is like a beating heart — it keeps us alive. And just like the blood the beating heart pushes through our bodies, music, the beat, creates a “life force” that, in turn, gives us the strength to carry on, to continue through our life’s journey, no matter the setbacks.

Music is the universal language to communicate

DJ Mimi uses music as a universal language to communicate, educate, and raise awareness about causes close to her heart. They include equal rights, animal rights, women’s empowerment, and much more. DJ Mimi has performed at many LGBT Pride events. She has been “spinning it” at the Javits Center, in New York City, at the Gay Expo, or at the Cancer Awareness Walk, or the Make a Wish foundation, among other events in the New York/New Jersey area. DJ Mimi has also appeared on No Boundaries Up Close and Personal, a Manhattan Neighborhood Network show hosted by actor, activist and celebrity host, Ron B, to talk about women empowerment and the role of women artists, in particular in today’s society.

DJ Mimi is funny, easy to talk to, and with a lot to say about issues she feels strongly about. She tells it just like she sees it, and lets you know why that is, too. But she always gives an honest answer, and she has a lot to offer and a lot to teach others… through music.

It is, indeed, through music that she tries to do her part in making the world a better place, one beat, one song, and one dance at a time. After all, as Bono once said, “Music can chance the world because it can change people.” And those who spend time with DJ Mimi and her music do change for the better.

“I’ve always wanted to perform, act or dance, since as long as I can remember,” she says. She’s always loved old movie musicals from decades ago. Some of her favorite movies include Singing in the Rain and Funny Girl. “The music was uplifting and joyful,” she comments. “I would watch the dancing and music, and mimic the characters as they performed.”

“I was fascinated with the working of the equipment”

She became interested in DJ-ing some 17 years ago. “I was in a relationship with a woman whose brother ran a DJ business. She DJ-ed at parties and taught me how to use the equipment. And I was fascinated with the working of the equipment, with how the music made people dance.”

That ignited her interested. A few short years later, she began downloading music and buying equipment “to build myself as a DJ, as an artist and a performer,” she said.

Throughout the years, music has been a form of healing, and also of celebration for her. Music has kept her company and seen her through tough times, as well as through joyful times. “Music represents everything I do, and depicts every thought and emotion I feel,” she says.

Music, and her connection with music, has helped her become the performer, the DJ, she is today. Music has made her dream of performing come true, she said.

As a DJ, her role is to use music, songs, to create a moment, a memory, that will last a lifetime. And speaking of long-lasting memories, DJ Mimi still remembers her first favorite song — “Fantasy” by Earth, Wind and Fire. “I would lose myself in the lyrics, and the beat, and the dance.”

“My favorite is old school music house and club”

When it comes to music, she enjoys most genres and listens to pretty much everything from 1920’s music to today’s, depending on her state of mind. “My favorite is old school music house and club,” she said, “because I love to dance.”

Music, to her, is a universal language, one that everybody can speak and understand. “There is no color, religion, gender or prejudice when music fills the air,” she points out. The words echo something that Lady Gaga once said about music: “Music is one of the most powerful things the world has to offer. No matter what race or religion or nationality or sexual orientation or gender that you are, it has the power to unite us.”

Maybe that universal element of music, as a language, a tool, is of utmost importance, especially nowadays. DJ Mimi uses it to unite and empower individuals. She also uses the power of music to educate, in particular the younger generation of LGBTQ activists, as well as aspiring performing artists. “Keep plugging along and don’t let anything stop you from [achieving] your dreams,” DJ Mimi advises. “Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Listen to what feedback people give [you] and don’t be defensive. And practice, practice, practice.”

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