Next Up 2 Da Stage: A Conversation with Dr. Seltzer
I’m watching the production team set up at a showcase for an even better cause. The wiring of the video equipment, the DJ, testing out his microphone, and the bartenders making their early rounds Mingle’s in the Bronx, NY is shaping up to be a great night. People are lined up to see artists perform and also to have people from the community and music industry receive awards for their efforts in their careers. Before I sit down with the creator of the Next Up 2 Da Stage showcase Dr. Victor Seltzer we greet each other and head to a quiet place to converse.
Dr. Seltzer, we’re here today on your behalf, can you tell us the way you curated the show?
I am a doctor; I have a Ph.D., so the first work I do is public health. Writing grants and bringing money into the organization, I always ended up running into artists and brought them on board to start fundraising events. Damatrix Studios Network was already at the forefront of this artist showcase. I went to one featuring Mario Winans and immediately saw the vision and wanted to help. I’ve been working with artists in the studio, in showcases and ended up managing situations for them. So instead of looking for gigs, I created one.
You mentioned you’re a doctor, what was the path like for you to reach such an esteemed goal?
It came to me. I’ve been doing public health work since I was a little kid. I would bring kids in and feed them when I knew they didn’t have food. My mother always used to say “stop giving away the food.” I went to Kennedy International University, and I decided I was going to go for my masters in social work. A bug just hit where I should go and get my Ph.D., and I only had eighteen months to finish, so it all worked out.
You’ve mentioned working with people in the music industry such as Mario Winans and DJ Red Alert, what other people have crossed your path on your journey?
Michael K. Williams who played “Omar” on The Wire and I grew up together. We were friends from little kids. I’ve written thirteen plays, and nine of them were in the theater. The very first play I wrote, we made into a movie, and that same play was the very first play Michael K. Williams did.
He told me “Vic, you don’t know the moment I did your play, it changed my life.”
The work that I was doing with Maya Angelou in North Carolina played both with public health and raised money for foundations. At the time North Carolina was ranked the sixth highest state with HIV and Maya asked me to open a testing site. With Maya at the first one, Michael at the second it was a huge success.
Oprah Winfrey couldn’t make it to the fundraiser, so she sent us a letter along with a fifty-thousand dollar check to continue our work.
Working with Damatrix Studios Network talk about how is it working with the community?
What I do in the non-profit world, we’re creating a way to work with children in the hospital who suffer from terminal illnesses and also interested in music but doesn’t have an opportunity for studio time or mentor-ship. Damatrix Studios Network just had their first workshop recently Lincoln Hospital, and the turnout was amazing.
I’ve been galvanizing the different foundations in the NYC area and writing a proposal. I talked to DJ Red Alert about being a board member of the program. The vision is right there so with the proper execution it’ll bring light to a good cause.
With the showcase, a lot of guys were struggling to get their music heard and if I could support in any way I could because the support was always there for me. In some ways, it cost me because I shell out a lot and don’t get much back but that’s okay.
Let’s talk about your upbringing…
I’m from the Bronx, NY. I wasn’t a bad kid, but my mother could see I was following the wrong crowd, so she moved me with my older sister to California. When I came back, I realized that the people I grew up with were doing the same thing. That’s what told me that something needs to be done.
We’re at Mingle’s in the Bronx for Damtrix Studios Network and your annual artist showcase, what are your expectations for the night?
Well to tell you the truth, the outcome for me is to have a good time. I don’t have any expectations of what I think it should be. I want to be able to have a drink, socialize and network with people. I want to be able to support artists because I know the support will come back tenfold.