Miriam “Mir.I.am” Tolbert has been spending most of her time making sure musical artists from all over the state are getting their chance to shine.
When the Cleveland native/Raleigh radio DJ is not spinning today’s hit bangers during her weekend shifts at hip-hop/R&B station K97.5 FM, she’s picking the talent that’ll be played on “Carolina Waves Radio,” which airs Sundays at noon. Formerly known as “919 Radio,” the name change came about due to Tolbert receiving music from unsigned, independent artists outside the Triangle.
“I found that I was getting a lot of submissions from across the whole state,” says Tolbert, “and ‘919 Radio’ – even though this is where we’re broadcast out of – we get so (many) music submissions from so many different areas and they actually get airtime.”
Since taking over the “919 Radio” reins a year and a half ago, Tolbert says the show has become one of the more successful programs on the station, as on-the-rise Tar Heel artists like Professor Toon, Joshua Gunn, Deniro Farrar, Defacto Thezpian and others have stopped by to play their tunes and chop it up with Tolbert.
“I think the success can be attributed to the fact that it’s genuine, that there’s genuine and real support,” she says. “I’ve been able to curate a lot of different shows, partner together with festivals like Hopscotch and Art of Cool to do day parties and kind of present the artists that have been featured – or some who haven’t been featured – with different opportunities to kind of give them exposure and help with their brand and kind of push them a little bit more. So, it’s more than just, you know, getting them played on the radio one time.”
Tolbert is looking to make “Waves” a full-fledged multimedia operation. Along with the radio show, she’ll also launch a podcast later this month, devoted to giving more up-and-coming artists their due.
“We’re limited with K97 with the genres we can play,” she says. “But there are a lot more different genres of artists who make soul music, pop music, even country music. And I want to be able to feature and spotlight them as well, and that’s what the podcast is for.”
Right now, there’s an influx and a surplus of amazing artists that are coming up, and that are really starting to be taken seriously. And I think that North Carolina is really gonna be the next thing to blow, and it’s just a matter of who’s gonna be the next to catch on.
Miriam “Mir.I.am” Tolbert
She’ll also be curating more live shows under the “Waves” umbrella. In the past, Tolbert has organized showcases for stateside talent, as well as shows only featuring female MCs and vocalists. (She’s hoping to turn that into a concert series, called “Carolina Queens,” in the coming months.)
“I just kind of like to fill in where I see that things are kind of missing, and try and put together lineups that may be a little different from the norm,” she says.
She has a lineup all ready for the official “Waves” relaunch party, which will go down Friday at Imurj in Raleigh (where Tolbert also hosts a monthly open-mic night called “Mic Mondays”). Charlotte vocalist Will Wildfire, High Point MC Tange Lomax and Raleigh rapper P.A.T. Junior are scheduled to perform, just a few of the artists on the bill Tolbert (who, of course, will emcee the event) has featured on her show.
And that’s all Tolbert wants to do: give young artists their moment – and hip listeners to all the talent that’s right in their backyard.
“Right now, there’s an influx and a surplus of amazing artists that are coming up, and that are really starting to be taken seriously,” she says. “And I think that North Carolina is really gonna be the next thing to blow, and it’s just a matter of who’s gonna be the next to catch on. And, so, I feel like North Carolina is going to be the new wave of artists. There are so many artists out here that are talented, that are different.
“It’s a wavy movement going on out here, you know,” she says. “We’re gonna be the new wave.”
What: “Official ‘Carolina Waves’ Relaunch Party,” with Niya Wells, Tange Lomax, J Safina, 3 AM, Will Wildfire, P.A.T. Junior, TraVerse, Shame and DJ Wade Banner
When: 8:30 p.m. Friday
Where: Imurj, 300 S. McDowell St., Raleigh
Cost: $10 ($12 at the door)
Info: 919-825-1515 or imurj.com