Carolina Waves is an open mic with a mission: to shine a spotlight on North Carolina independent artists and give them a platform for expression.
The event is the winner of Indy Week’s best open mic in the Triangle area two years running. It’s dominated by hip-hop and R&B, but artists of all genres and stripes are welcome to take part. Carolina Waves travels all over North Carolina to bring exposure to artists across the state, and it's coming to Cat's Cradle on Aug. 25.
Tickets will be free for UNC students with a valid UNC One Card.
Mir.I.am, a DJ at Raleigh’s K97.5 FM and Carolina Waves’ longtime host, said the event is built on connections and appreciation for performers.
“The thing that makes Carolina Waves special is that it’s a family environment,” said Mir.I.am.
Jemal Abdulhadi, co-founder of UNC’s Student Hip Hop Organization and a frequent Carolina Waves performer, said exposure at Waves can be invaluable for up-and-coming artists. He said the feeling of performing in front of so many fellow artists — all of whom are cheering you on — is incredible.
Mir.I.am’s been putting on the show since its inception, helping it grow into what it is today. What keeps performers coming back, Mir.i.am said, is the feeling that this is a show by independent artists, for independent artists — with none of the awkwardness of typical open mics.
Carolina Waves is full of opportunities to make connections with fellow artists — connections that can lead to collaborations down the road, said Kal Caviness, aka K.A.L., a veteran performer who is part of the featured artists’ showcase at the event.
"Even if you don't get any connections out of it, even if you don't get any extra stream boost or followers or whatever, you still get to practice performing," Caviness said.
Caviness found out about Carolina Waves while looking for open mics online. After one direct message on social media, he was in.
“If you’re trying to do a show or an open mic at a bar, people aren’t that receptive to it,” Caviness said. “But at these shows, everyone’s trying to cheer for each other so they’ll cheer for them.”
Caviness said the welcoming atmosphere makes Carolina Waves the perfect place for a new artist to build their performing expertise and to establish valuable networks. Carolina Waves is always on the lookout for promising independent talent, and Mir.i.am said the event often opens doors to bigger and better opportunities for those who seek them out.
"Now when I drop something, (Carolina Waves will) post it for me, and get their followers to see it," Caviness said. "That gives me a lot of North Carolinian following."
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