Time and again, the man born Ian Grocher has proved to be a virtuous example for the Miami community. Since gaining widespread recognition as the Miami Heat’s resident DJ 16 years ago, Irie has demonstrated a continual willingness to step out of the booth and into civic society at large, focusing much of his time on charitable efforts and endeavors. Just last year, Irie and his foundation (the Irie Foundation, go figure) helped open the Allapattah Music and Literary Center with the hope of artistically engaging at-risk Miami youth. In his charitable work, it has become evident that establishing a positive dialogue with young Miamians is of the utmost importance to Irie.
“Having this support at this time really helped me to be who I am. I gotta try to offer that to someone else because I can,” Irie says. “I do believe — and this is for me — I do believe that there’s a certain level of responsibility and social consciousness that goes with having a position in the public eye that supports you. We live in a give-and-take world, and if you’re gonna take, you've got to be able to give as well.”
From Wednesday through Saturday, Irie’s charitable nature and skills behind the turntable will converge for the 12th annual Irie Weekend, a four-day celebration benefiting his foundation. Among the various events promised, this year will host performances by the inimitable T-Pain and Akon at E11EVEN and the Shelborne Wyndham Grand respectively.
Although much of Irie's schedule has recently been occupied with ensuring Irie Weekend goes off without a hitch, he has still found room to remain sharp behind the boards, as evidenced by his recent win as our Readers’ Choice for Best DJ of 2016. Talking to Irie, his enthusiasm for the medium is as evident in his speech as it is in his mixes. Hearing the sheer love in his voice as he extols the virtues of his craft comes close to emulating the uplifting quality of the best sorts of DJ sets.
“Society was influenced so much just from these records on a turntable and a mixer and a microphone,” Iris enthuses. “It triggered so much and it inspired so much.”
However, there is one thing more inspiring than hearing Irie talk about DJing: hearing Irie talk about his philanthropic work.
“I was lucky enough to meet and become pretty good friends with Phil Collins,” he charmingly humblebrags. “We were able to put something together where he had his gala at the Fillmore, and we were able to have our kids perform with him. And here’s the cool thing about that — these are kids that may have heard their parents play something by him, but they don’t really know about Phil Collins! But for them, the moving moment was seeing how everyone else reacted to him.”
Irie goes on to describe the surreal scene of young Miamians performing alongside Phil Collins to a sold-out house. Beyond his pride in watching young men and women realize their musical potential, for Irie, the biggest thrill wouldn’t come until after the show.
“We’re talking about [their performance], and it was like they were just different people,” he says. “These are kids that already have a strong level of confidence in themselves... These kids were already putting in hours, and it just doubled. You can’t just get an experience like that — thanks to the relationships that we’re forming and what we’re doing, we’re able to have these kinds of experiences for them that are really going to be life-changing.”
With any luck, this coming Irie Weekend will make more such stories possible.
Irie Foundation #InspIRIE Dinner Gala hosted by Jamie Foxx. 6 p.m. Wednesday, June 22, at the Shelborne Wyndham Grand, 1801 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305-531-1271; shelbornewyndhamgrand.com. Tickets cost $625 to $5,000 plus fees via eventbrite.com.
IWXII VIP Kick-Off Concert with Akon. 8 p.m. Thursday, June 23, at the Shelborne Wyndham Grand, 1801 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305-531-1271; shelbornewyndhamgrand.com. Tickets cost $100 plus fees via eventbrite.com.
12th Annual Celebrity Golf Tournament. 11:30 a.m. Friday, June 24, at the Miami Beach Golf Club, 2301 Alton Rd., Miami Beach. Tickets cost $50 plus fees via eventbrite.com.
IWXII Friday Night with Dru Hill. 11 p.m. Friday, June 24, at LIV, 4441 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305-674-4680; livnightclub.com. Tickets cost $40 plus fees via flavorus.com.
IWXII Closing Celebration with T-Pain. 10 p.m. Saturday, June 25, at E11even, 29 NE 11th St., Miami; 305-829-2911; 11miami.com. Tickets cost $23 to $46 via tixr.com.