Quiana Parks is a DJ, visual artist, social-influencer, philanthropist and cancer survivor. As a true renaissance woman, Parks captivates audiences with her effortless fusion of disco, pop, house, hip-hop and R&B. We chatted with Quiana about music, her perspective, and her convictions. Read more below. 

Blavity: When you talk about your love for music, you describe it as a life source for you, a pulse that keeps you driven. Tell us more about how you developed a passion for DJ-ing and additionally, why it was imperative for you to pursue this passion?

Quiana Parks: I love music! I’ve never been much of a singer and I’m certainly not a dancer or musician. But I’m really good at DJing. I fell in love with the idea of DJing after discovering the meatpacking district here in New York. I had the opportunity to experience what it was like seeing the crowd from the DJ booth. It was intoxicating. I loved the idea of playing the music I love and enjoying it with other people. I eventually went home and started practicing on my dad’s turntables while he was at work. I would practice for hours. The moment I started waking up thinking about DJing, I knew that it was for me.

Photo: DJ Quiana Parks

B: You are a 10-year cancer survivor! How has this experience shaped your outlook on life?

QP: Cancer is very much a huge part of who I am today. After going into remission, my doctor told me there was a 90% chance it would come back and that kept me in a state of fear for years. Eventually, I had to remind myself of who I am and most importantly who my God is. I got up, went out and believed in myself. It was very difficult for me because I used to think to myself, “What's the point of trying when any day now my cancer would come back and this will all be over”. I don’t think like that anymore.   Now I say, “You need to go show out because any day now my cancer is coming back”. I made it to my 30th birthday and that for me is something I’m extremely grateful for. Having cancer taught me how to get up and fight for what I want because tomorrow's NOT promised.

Photo: DJ Quiana Parks

B: You started DJ For A Cure, a non-profit organization to raise cancer awareness. In what ways is DJ For A Cure also raising awareness about cancer in the black community?

QP: When I started DJ for a Cure, I knew there was a lack of blood cancer awareness in our community. But I didn’t realize how bad it was until I visited the Delete Blood Cancer | DKMS office. They told me the need for African American donors is especially urgent because we have the most diverse array of HLA — the protein markers used to match patients and donors. This means it takes an even larger pool of possible African American donors to find a patient even one viable match. In the past, I’ve hosted many DJ for a Cure events and we’ve also done swabbing parties with Delete Blood Cancer. A swabbing takes only a few minutes, it’s super easy. Check out my website quianaparks.com for more info on the next Dj for a Cure event.

Photo: DJ Quiana Parks

B: “The Un-Done Project” is probably one of the most moving pieces of art I've seen in awhile. What moves me so much is that you chose to leave the sketches unfinished to remind the viewers that they too are a work in progress filled with imperfections. In what ways has your journey with self-love been explored through your art?

QP: Journey! Ah, I love that freaking word. I think understanding who you are and loving yourself has a hell of a lot to do with realizing that it is and will always be journey > results. Realizing that helped me live in the moment and embrace who I am, instead of caring what anyone else thinks. My journey has just begun. When I sketch or draw I can’t find it in me to call the piece “Done". It doesn’t feel organic.

Photo: DJ Quiana Parks

B: My personal belief is that creativity will lead to liberation, both of the self and the collective. What are your thoughts on art as resistance (especially during such fraught political times)?

QP: I feel the role of an artist is a crucial one, it’s our job as artists to express our thoughts, feelings, beliefs creatively which in turn provokes moods and ideas in others. Throughout history, art has always played a major role in exposing political topics, whether it be poems from Langston Hughes about the Harlem Renaissance, songs by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five about the conditions in the late 1970s in urban communities. These artists all expressed issues that were relevant during those times. Art is an outlet for people to be expressive during difficult political times.

Photo: DJ Quiana Parks

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