Clara Kent lays claim to many titles. The singer-songwriter, painter, live performance artist, and curator serves as the CEO of Bounce House Studios & Productions and as the artist outreach coordinator at the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council.
Now, the self-described “Multidimensional Artistic Individual” has added radio host to her already full resume.
On Feb. 24, Kent kicked off her tenure as the newest on-air personality at 91.3 WYEP. Her show, More Bounce with Clara Kent, works to highlight what a release describes as “music and culture from the African Diaspora.” This includes the “latest and the greatest” in alt-R&B, neo-soul, funk, Afro-Beat, reggae, and hip hop.
“More Bounce is more of a feeling than a look,” Kent tells Pittsburgh City Paper in an email. “It feels like a house party at Erykah Badu’s house, a good ole get-together after a long week of working, or a mid-summer cookout with your friends and family by the pool. It's a time to unwind, two-step, or just relax and mellow out. The idea is to make celebrating Black music from all over the world something to look forward to on a Friday evening, and something to share with people you love.”
The show will also feature emerging artists with Elevate the Underground, a slot at the top of the second hour. Kent says anyone listening into the Friday show at 7 p.m. will have a chance to hear a new artist from Pittsburgh or beyond.
“I have submissions open on a rolling basis to make sure people have access to the opportunity, yet, it's competitive!” she adds. “I also find artists myself, I'm always scouting for talent and seeing what's next. It's an exciting time for music and I want artists to have chances to shine as much as they can.”
Artists can even submit their music for Elevate the Underground at wyep.org/elevate.
More Bounce marks a new effort, not only for Kent, but for WYEP, which has started to rethink its approach to playing music. While the move has resulted in some missteps, including a poorly worded email and backlash following the firing of former The Soul Show host, Mike Canton, it also demonstrates the station’s desire to better connect with both audiences and local talent. (Editor's note: Mike Canton writes the Soulshowmike’s Album Picks column for City Paper.)
Liz Felix, program director at WYEP, believes Kent figures prominently into this process.
“Clara is a creative force in our local music and arts scene and we’re thrilled to put More Bounce with Clara Kent on the air,” Felix says in a statement. “She’s also a mentor and connector for many up-and-coming musicians in Pittsburgh, which fits perfectly with WYEP’s mission to support and grow the diverse music ecosystem in the Southwestern Pennsylvania region.”
It also works for Kent, who says she was looking for something that “aligned with my artistry and my artist's mission in advocating for musicians, while also keeping the lights on and food on the table.”
While she had never hosted a weekly radio show before, she found that it bore some resemblance to her other work.
“Hopping on air in itself is live performance. It’s like a sibling to music performance, you have to be in the zone and just flow with the moment,” she says. “Once I saw the similarities, the differences weren’t intimidating.”
Still, she plans on staying focused on all of her endeavors, along with More Bounce.
“Honestly, I have been juggling behind the scenes for so long I don’t know how to do anything else at this point,” she says. She adds that, over time, she has learned that “prioritizing communication, resting, staying silly, and healthy transparency are key to keeping a steady flow in life and in work,” and credits a network of friends, colleagues, and fellow artists for helping her along the way.
“I’ve literally been lifted up by so many people near and far to stand where I am today,” says Kent. “Working hard and applying myself is a privilege I do not take lightly because I know there are people who have bet on me, and their love and kindness reminds me that I know that I can bet on myself, too.”
As for what listeners can look forward to, Kent says the next More Bounce episodes will honor Women’s History Month with dedications to Black women and femmes who “break the rules and have innovated music.”
“Uplifting the pioneers I look up to as well as the new generation of women shaking tables is a must,” says Kent. “They deserve all the flowers.”
More Bounce with Clara Kent. 6-8 p.m. every Friday. Find it at 91.3 WYEP FM, online at wyep.org, or on the WYEP app. wyep.org/MoreBounce