By Ashley Benkarski
NASHVILLE, TN — Victor Chatman’s story is one of intention, influenced by early exposure to sound and rhythm through his mother who’d play blues, R&B and Motown hits on the 8-track on Saturdays.
He won his first dance contest at a party where he saw a deejay spinning live. Watching Soul Train and American Bandstand as a kid, he thought, “Man, I’d love to be an emcee and deejay, to have people dancing and having fun like that,” he recalled.
Chatman began his entrepreneurial foray at 15. Noting he “never wanted to be limited in a nine to five job,” he bought equipment and deejayed at parties and proms, traveling around the state and networking. When he graduated he’d become well-established, working celebrity weekend charities for major league sports players, corporations, and record labels.
His entrepreneurial mindset developed early. While friends worked factory jobs after graduation he was running toward his goal of creating a DJ, event planning, sound-lighting production company that would be an “all-in-one operation,” he said. “I was bound and determined that I was going to be a well-known deejay across the country.” He did just that. “I knew that my passion, God-given gifts and talent were going to make room for me.”
Chatman will launch his own radio station in 2020 and is a multi-genre syndicated radio personality on iHeart Radio. He’s spent four decades promoting, producing and booking artists and events through his four different companies, including producing Jazz on the Cumberland with Metro Parks (with the Sports Authority, Tennessee Titans, Nissan Stadium, Nashville Metro Government, the Mayor’s Office and Visit Music City), Jazz With a View Rooftop Series in numerous cities, the Brown Bag Lunch Concert Series in Centennial Park, the Box Lunch Concert Series with Bi-Centennial Capital Mall State Park and A Jazzy Christmas on the Cumberland with his corporate partner aboard General Jackson Showboat held every third Sunday in December, which had a record-breaking sell-out on Dec. 15. VCP has leveraged a new corporate partnership with Top Golf and expanded into 40 U.S. markets and abroad where concert series and festivals are produced, he said. Many of his events benefit continuing education programs.
He’s part of the reason the musical landscape of Nashville is being recognized for more than honky-tonk; Jazz on the Cumberland was nationally ranked as the number one destination for jazz in Nashville for the fourth consecutive year, an honor that Chatman doesn’t take lightly.
He’s also a business Pencil partner mentor for Metro schools and The Academies of Nashville. Chatman conducts internship/externship job mentoring that engages students in real-life experiences in the pathways of hospitality, marketing, digital design, audio engineering and production and is head of a youth education program in S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Music) and a Youth DJ School.
“That’s what gives me the greatest joy, to know that I’m impacting lives every day and getting to make a difference in the lives of the kids coming through the ranks that generally are just lost. Some of them are in pathways that aren’t even their strong suit, they’re just there because they were put there.”
He suggested parents should support their children in their passions, not direct them to the most marketable jobs.
It turns out embracing those passions often translates into other areas of development. “When kids are actually doing something that they’re really passionate about, it carries over into better behavior at home and improved test scores at school,” he said, noting parents and teachers have relayed the improvements to him.
“People won’t always remember what you said, but they remember how you made them feel. So when you make these kids feel like they’re wanted and needed and that they matter, it makes a difference. The reward is being able to see these kids that we mentor actually get to have a hope and a purpose that they generally wouldn’t have had before.”
For information and updates visit www.victorchatman.com.