Gordo‘s tour schedule makes him a citizen of the world, but his roots are in Guatemala.
The producer’s mother and grandmother were undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. from the Central American country before he was born. The pair were detained and separated at the Texan border before making their way to Washington, D.C., where Gordo was born Diamanté Blackmon in 1991. The trio soon thereafter returned to Guatemala, where Blackmon spent most of his childhood.
Now the producer is giving kids in the country a jump on life by funding an elementary school in Nuevo Eden, Guatemala. This school, Edificio Taraka, is the third he’s helped build in Central America, with the first two in Nicaragua. The project was completed in collaboration with Seeds of Learning, a Nicaragua-based non-profit launched in the late ’80s after the Nicaraguan civil war, and with whom Blackmon has had a decade-long partnership.
“As someone who considers himself to have lived the American dream,” Blackmon tells Billboard, “I really do not take anything for granted, and want to give back more than take in. My grandmother risked everything to get to this country and I just try to make her proud.” (Blackmon’s grandmother now resides in a house in Hawaii he bought for her, and where he also lives while not on tour.)
His $100,000 donation to Edificio Taraka has covered the cost of construction, staffing and learning materials. But, he says, these efforts are just the beginning of his work with the school, and that together, the Taraka team is working on an athletic program, a stage for school recitals, a meal program and naturally, music classes, “even,” he says, “if it’s a basic piano lesson.” The school will also teach English, a particularly meaningful lesson plan for Blackmon.
“English is my second language and adapting to the United States school system was very difficult for me,” he says. “Personally I love that these kids in Guatemala will have the chance to learn English.”
As the producer has recently transitioned out of the longstanding Carnage project that made him an electronic world star into his house- and techno-focused project Gordo, so, too, is he also intending to expand “my time and money across education, immigration and music.”
“Most people don’t know this side of me,” he says, “but I am looking forward to shedding light on a variety of philanthropic initiatives this year.”