With the rise of internet radio and podcasting, avenues for independent artists have become more accessible, a welcome addition to mainstream opportunities that have become few and far between. One person championing this crusade is radio personality and podcast host Ethan Horace.
Professionally known as “Mr. Music,” Horace, along with his co-hosts Dante “DJ Enferno” Coleman and Georron “Tangy G” Gross have experienced a surge of popularity through the rise of their show “The Power Hour.”
Recorded locally at KFAI studios, “The Power Hour,” which debuted in 2014, was recently syndicated by streaming giant iHeartRadio, igniting their growth not only in the Twin Cities but across the world.
Uniquely structured as a cross between a radio program and podcast, the weekly show covers topics ranging from politics, music, relationships, and all things Black culture. Since its June syndication and partnership with iHeartRadio, the show has gained a following overseas in places like the United Kingdom, India, Norway, and Germany. Yet as their recognition increases, the show’s hosts are firmly committed to promoting local and regional independent artists who are very unlikely to receive mainstream support.
“In the Twin Cities there is not enough curation when it comes to local artists, especially from behind the scenes,” explained Horace.
“I’m a big Drake fan and a big Beyonce fan, but they have 20 million streams and we’ve heard them a million times. What about that brother from St. Paul that we’ve never heard before or that artist from Detroit that has music just as great and can stand next to Drake on the radio?
“We sit and listen to 400 songs a day,” Horace continued. “It’s a lot of time and a lot of work. People will lie and tell you they’re listening to indie music, but they aren’t. We’re playing with no politics. If the music sounds good, we’ll play it. Doesn’t matter if you’re Black, White, gay, or straight. If the music sounds good and contributes to the culture, it’ll be played.”
This no-agenda approach and strenuous listening process has benefitted a multitude of acts including Twin Cities’ artists Cici Bella, Dearris Judkins, Prince Riley, Eddie White, and Mac Turner. Through the rise of “The Power Hour,” each artist has been able to grow their following and generate a buzz on the local and national scene.
Co-host Dante “DJ Enferno” Coleman, who curates the music and handles the show’s mixes, shared the most satisfying part of the work. “One of the most rewarding aspects of the show is putting people onto new artists and music. We play predominately quote, unquote indie music, that’s not a Drake, Lil Wayne or Ariana Grande. Instead, we play music that’s just as good as theirs, so when we see artists pick upstreams and followers, all of that stuff matters and that’s the biggest reward of all.”
Coleman, who also deejays a show on Sirius XM’s Shade 45 provides a unique element to the podcast through his eclectic mixes that synergizes listeners near and far.
“What people look for me to do on the show is to bring energy with the mixes. They want to hear and feel the energy, whether it’s Afro Beat, trap music, or pop. I’m also able to bring musical knowledge and background whenever we have discussions. But for the most part, people are looking for energy, which is what I’m known for in the club atmosphere, so it carries over into the show.”
With its growth and popularity, the impact of the show has extended beyond music as Horace explained the unique bond they’ve been able to establish with the artists.
“Last year, we won a suicide prevention award from a show we did in 2018. After that show, an artist hit me up and told me that the show had given them hope to not want to commit suicide. They mentioned to me that nobody in the city had given them a chance and that we were the first platform that played their music every week. I don’t want to share the artist’s name, but it was very authentic and sincere. For an artist that’s on the show we want them to feel great and that they’re part of the show. For listeners, we want them to feel good and discover music they didn’t know about.”
Of course, the show’s continued growth will be largely predicated on new music from rising artists. With this, Horace is adamant to convey a message of accessibility for independent artists who want their music heard on the growing platform.
“With our show, we want to continue spreading the message that indie music matters, especially in the Black community. There’s so much great talent in the Twin Cities and around the world, so if you know someone that makes music and they’re dope, tell us, no matter the genre. At the end of the day, we have something for everybody, which helps us to be universal.”
The Power Hour airs weekly and can be streamed on iHeartRadio.
Marquis Taylor is a contributing writer at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.