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When Oprah calls, you answer, right?

What if it's not the Queen of All Media calling, but someone you worked with once on a catering gig several weeks ago asking if you are free three days later on a Sunday night? July 3, no less. And out of town. And, Oprah's name doesn't come up right away.

If you are Chattanooga DJ Keenan Daniels, you hesitate for a second or two, thinking about the time you could spend with your wife and three kids — Alexis, Kenedi, Kingston and Keegan — and then you say 'Yes,' because that's what you do. And then, on the day of the event, you show up 90 minutes early with enough equipment to run an entire music festival, just in case.

"I've always said, 'If you stayed ready, you wouldn't have to get ready,'" he said in an interview on Friday, a few days after he provided the music and full production for the surprise party that Oprah Winfrey threw for her father, Vernon, at his home in Nashville on Sunday.

Winfrey posted on Instagram that her father is dealing with some health issues.

"Giving my father his 'flowers' while he's still well enough to smell them," she said. "Happy 4th of July as you gather with your family and friends. Remember to celebrate each other."

Daniels, 41, whose company is the MillionDollaMan, is a Chattanooga native and 2000 graduate of the Chattanooga High School Center for Creative Arts. He's been DJing full time since 2015, providing music and production for family and corporate events such as weddings and company parties. He's been voted Best of the Best DJ four times by Chattanooga Times Free Press readers.

He prides himself on being over-prepared for any occasion and any challenge thrown his way, and it is exactly those traits that made Marilyn Smith with Daily Dish catering in Brentwood, Tennessee, think of him when her bosses reached out looking for a DJ to work a party Winfrey was throwing for her father.

Smith said by phone on Friday that she was in Pensacola, Florida, when her boss called and said, "We need a DJ. I said, 'I got the guy.'"

Smith, who oversees the front of the house for Daily Dish events, said she has seen hundreds of DJs, bands and other entertainers over the years. She said Daniels had impressed her two weeks earlier.

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Oprah Winfrey event in Nashville

"He was crazy amazing," she said. "I see them all the time in a lot of venues, but he was so respectful and so engaging. He danced with the group and made sure that he wanted what they wanted. It wasn't about him."

She said Daniels didn't disappoint for the Winfrey event.

"He showed up with all his gear," Smith said. "Up lights, surround sound, everything. When we had an issue, he plugged our stuff into his stuff."

Daniels said it wasn't until the end of his conversation with Smith on that fateful Thursday night phone call that she casually said, "The event is for Vernon Winfrey."

"I heard the last name and said, 'Oh, will Oprah be there?' Joking. She said, 'Yes.'"

Daniels, who works solo, said he didn't have any idea what the actual gig would entail until he got to Vernon Winfrey's house, but once there, he started pulling speakers, because he always travels with more than the things he will need, out of his 2001 Chevy Astro van and set them up in as many places as he could.

"I was supposed to get there at 2, but I got there at 12:30," he said.

The party ran from about 5 to 8:45 p.m.

Daniels' instinct to not only arrive early, but to fully set up the backyard space, proved prescient, he said, because when Winfrey arrived with friends Gayle King and Stedman Graham, "[Winfrey] bee-lined it right over to me to check everything out.

"She's a production-minded person, so she liked my turntables and wanted to know if I could do what she wanted."

Throughout the evening, she would instruct Daniels, whom she called "My DJ," to do things like turn the music down so she could make a brief announcement, and what type of music to play during certain parts of the night.

"She'd walk around making announcements, so I was always looking at her. She'd throw her hand up when she was ready to talk. She made it clear what she wanted and she'd correct you in a sweet way."

Daniels said Winfrey was everything he'd hoped "a celebrity hero" would be.

"She was great," he said.

Once Daniels figured out that Winfrey was partial to Freddie King and Luther Vandross, Daniels made sure their music was in heavy rotation.

"I downloaded everything I could find of Luther's," he said.

Daniels and Smith believe that attention to detail and being prepared for anything is what made the event successful.

"[Winfrey] didn't care if I could scratch or do beats," Daniels said of his DJing abilities. "She cared if the sound was right, the microphones worked and I could do what she needed done."

"They were very happy," Smith said of the event.

Daniels said he hopes this event opens more doors for him.

"I'm hoping Barack [Obama's] camp calls and maybe Steve Harvey's. I'm ready."

Contact Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6354. Follow him on Twitter @BarryJC.

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