A staple DJ and socialite in Buffalo, Gabby Arthur a.k.a DJ Lil Gab has performed her eclectic mixes of music for some of the city’s most premier events and shows. Djing for over 5 years, the stylish taste maker uses her experience as a longtime event-goer to elevate Buffalo’s entertainment scene. A major contributor to re-occuring local events like Hip-Hop Karaoke or the women-centered movement, Virago, DJ Lil Gab is breaking boundaries as an entertainer, and purveyor of Buffalo’s Hip-Hop culture.
“When you go out, music…that’s what your night revolves around. Is there good music playing,” explained Gabby.
Djing since 2014, Gabby began her career in the field after growing unsatisfied with music played at local bars and clubs. A self-proclaimed party girl, Gabby, along with her friend and party partner, Lana, were eager for a wider and more diverse set of music to be played at venues, so they decided to pursue DJing themselves. Attending Scratch Academy in NYC, the girls learned the elements of mixing and brought their new-learned skills back to Buffalo. With great reception, the duo started DJ’ing around the city as the Golden Girls.
With a unique position as duo lady DJ’s, Gabby and Lana quickly became in-demand entertainment for local events. Also Djing at shows outside of their realm (One of their first shows was for an art gallery), the girls recognized their impact as talented DJ’s.
“It started off as kind of like a hobby, as a fun thing, and it took off into something way more serious than that,” mentioned Gabby.
As the Djing gigs became more demanding, Lana eventually took a hiatus from Djing, but Gabby continued. Invested in the influence and inspiration her work as a lady DJ had on the community, Gabby started extending her reach as a professional act.
Opening for high profile Hip-Hop artists like Travis Scott, and Juice Wrld, among many others for their shows in Buffalo and annual festivals like Vibrations and Beau Fleuve Music and Arts, Gabby’s profile continued to ascend. Not only a DJ, but a well-connected socialite, her love for Djing is rooted in connecting with people and their energy, while bringing elevated experiences through music.
“I know the music that’ll set the vibe and that’s really one of the biggest things about being a DJ is knowing how to read the room,” explained Gabby.
Crediting her impressive knowledge of music to “years of partying,” Gabby keeps her curation steez fresh by staying in tune to new music through music streaming services, record pools and the necessity, Shazam. Known for her distinct mixes of particularly women-centric Hip-Hop music, Gabby has also learned the circumstances that come with playing in certain venues. Not accepting the limits put on playing Hip-Hop in certain spaces, Gabby was eager to throw her own events, with no restrictions.
Cue HIP-HOP KARAOKE: Inspired by a Hip-Hop Karaoke show she went to when she was in London for a Buffalo Bills game back in 2015, Gabby brought the idea to Buffalo. Partnering with her husband and musician, Donny Arthur, Gabby held the first modern Hip-Hop Karaoke show at The Waiting Room venue in 2016. The show which sold over 500 tickets, quickly became a staple event among the local entertainment community.
Eventually collaborating with well-known party promoter OJ Barker for his birthday, the news of Hip-Hop Karaoke in Buffalo spread, and the following birthday celebration hosted over 1,000 people. Most notably in 2019, Hip-Hop Karaoke made it to local news for their sold-out Christmas-themed show where they offered discounted tickets if attendees brought toys. Filling up over 14 trash bags full of toys to donate to the Marsha P. Mitchell Community Center, Hip-Hop Karaoke hasn’t just become a popular event, but a way to elevate the roots of Hip-Hop culture in Buffalo, by recognizing communities in need.
CUE VIRAGO: Also eager to bring creative women together, Gabby partnered up with her sister-in-law, writer and political activist D. Arthur, and friend and photographer Sam Tilkins to create women empowerment group Virago. Since kicking off their first event for International Women’s Day in 2019, the threesome has put on a string of impressive events around Buffalo that center the talents of women, NB and gender queer individuals for their shows, while also using ticket sales to benefit local women’s charity Pinnacle Community Services and their Passage House Shelter.
“I was already throwing events and I was just like ‘Man, I wanna do something really cool. There’s so many dope females around me’…Some of these people – you chat with them on Instagram and it doesn’t go any further than that, you know? They’re hyping you up on your posts and they’re doing this, but it’s like I want all of these people to come together. So we did that,” Gabby explained.
Already reminiscing over Virago’s last event at the 3 floor Thin Man Brewery bar – just before Covid hit, Gabby is eager to get back into the entertainment scene. Since the Pandemic shut venues and public spaces in general down, Gabby DJ’d virtually for a while, before taking a 5-month break from social media altogether. But now with spaces beginning to open up, Gabby is ready to re-enter the night life scene and continue to change the narrative for lady artists and creatives in the industry. Already opening up her booking for this Spring, she is hoping her continued presence in the entertainment community along with Hip-Hop Karaoke and Virago will build respect for her and her co-horts in Buffalo’s entertainment spaces.
“We’ve proved ourselves time and time again that we can throw an event, and a lot of people will come,” concluded Gabby.
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