Baltimore's 'Club Queen' inspired with love of music

July 23, 2008|By Alexandra Douglas-Barrera

When I heard a live K-Swift set for the first time at age 13, I knew there was no one else on the radio like her. Her mixes, on-air commentary and obvious love for music inspired me and my interest in music and radio. Of course, I had no idea what Baltimore Club music was then - I just knew that whatever she dropped was infectious.

I was certainly not alone in my love for K-Swift's radio show. An avid listener throughout high school and into college, I got a show at my school's radio station and, following her example, got into live DJing. Each time I drop a Baltimore Club track, I think of her and remember which of her many mix tapes put me on to the song.

For people who know the local club scene or pay attention to contemporary music, it is hard to live in Baltimore and not be familiar with the moniker "K-Swift." A self-made woman, Khia Edgerton, at 18, was offered a coveted Radio One Baltimore internship with 92Q Jams (WERQ-FM). In the same year, Ms. Edgerton - from then on known as DJ K-Swift - began producing shows such as the Mark Young Show and Neke @ Night for the station.

From these beginnings, K-Swift would go on to be one of the most influential DJs of her time, earning the adoration of her fans in clubs and on the air. She quickly gained the respect of DJs in Baltimore and became a role model for female DJs everywhere.

K-Swift, who died Monday in an accident at her home, was on top and about to get even bigger when she was taken so quickly and shockingly from the music, the fans, the community she loved.

The accolades are many: "Club Queen" of Baltimore, host of the No. 1-ranked radio show on 92Q, first and only female mix show coordinator in radio history, prolific DJ and producer with more than a dozen mixes put out by Baltimore label Unruly Records. But, looking past all that, her personality is undoubtedly what will be most remembered by fans.

Dynamic and jovial on the air, K-Swift showcased her talent during her 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. radio spot, Off the Hook Radio, with co-host Squirrel Wyde. Her live mixes always opened with an enthusiastic introduction that would make any listener excited about what she had in store. In venues ranging from the massive Paradox to the cramped Talking Head, she would glow with appreciation, love and an unmatched passion for her crowd and music when she spun.

I was fortunate to see K-Swift in her last club performance, at "My Crew Be Unruly," a celebration of epic proportions of Baltimore Club music, held at the Paradox on Friday. K-Swift headlined the night and spun alongside other notable DJs Scottie B, Diplo and Blaqstarr, as well as many representatives from Unruly Records and club music nationwide. The party drew a large, diverse crowd of club lovers and lasted well into the early morning.

K-Swift was a gathering point for so many people in Baltimore and beyond. From those who listened to her on 92Q to those who stumbled across a mix tape by chance, there was no such thing as the lukewarm K-Swift fan.

To see a young female DJ achieve so much in such a short life showed me - and other young female DJs - that it was possible to gain recognition and acceptance in the male-dominated worlds of DJing and hip-hop. To watch her perform was to witness a talented young woman, still perhaps a bit in disbelief of the magnitude of her success, prove exactly how she got there in the first place.

K-Swift leaves behind multitudes of fans and listeners and a legacy of success and love for music that so many can appreciate and value. She leaves behind her family at Unruly Records, still shocked at these tragic events.

How do you mourn someone who served as a voice of Baltimore music and truly helped put the city on the map? I suggest doing what I plan on doing this weekend. As the anthem goes, "I'm gonna dance my pain away" for K-Swift. May she rest in peace.

Alexandra Douglas-Barrera is a DJ at University of

Maryland radio station WMUC. Her e-mail is adb@

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