INTERVIEW: Charity Radcliffe on the Louisville Accord, Parenting, & Radio!

One of the voices on WCHQ, formerly Crescent Hill Radio, and one of the minds behind The Louisville Accord, Charity Radcliffe has quietly helped shape the community around her through her actions. Radcliffe is a welcoming personality, making you feel at ease and important all at once, which lends a quiet grace to her radio program, which explores a variety of Louisville music and interests; she’s cool as hell. You can get a taste of the Louisville Accord below, then read on to learn how the Accord started, balancing parenting and art, and her own time on air.

Never Nervous: Tell us a little about yourself. Have you always been involved in the music scene, or did you gravitate towards it over time?

Charity Radcliffe: Music has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. My father was a musician, my grandfather was a traveling musician and my aunts and uncles all either sang or played in bands growing up. Later in my teens, my step-father and step uncles were local musicians. I’ve always sang, but didn’t personally dive into the local music scene until 7 years ago.

“My step-father and step uncles were local musicians. I’ve always sang, but didn’t personally dive into the local music scene until 7 years ago.”

NN: How did you get involved with The Louisville Accord? What can you tell us about the history there?

CR: A few months after I started DJing for WCHQ, CJ Cumberland approached me with the initial project concept. I thought back to interviewing Nina Rodahaffer and Cheyenne Mize for Strive – and they also mentioned goals of “bridging the gap” between artist and audience through their music and work – all for the benefit of the community. I agreed that perhaps a lot more artists on the scene today would enjoy connecting with their audiences in this way.

Those two realizations evolved into the understanding of a cross pollination of sorts – with the potential to create even more diversity within the local community. CJ and I approached Brian Cronin of Goldsmith Studios with our shared vision, and ACCORD 2017 was born – featuring Strive as the first benefactor. In 2018, we decided to try again tweaking the process even more, and the ACCORD team evolved with the addition of music videos created by photographer John Paul Johnson and 360 video provided by Leo Osbourne of Leo Cast Videography. It still amazes me how many professionals are willing to donate valuable resources and time.

NN: What is it like setting up these pairings? Who contacts whom? How are these connections made? Is it curated at all by personality, or is that aspect left to the artists?

CR: I think the only reason it works is because we also have so many diverse personalities involved in the project. We each reach out to a set number of artists we feel would be a good fit, then from the list of those who are committed to helping out, we begin the process of diversifying each pairing as much as possible – by things like race, gender, age, genre, and background. Sometimes it’s a bigger challenge than you would think because it’s also contingent upon the artists’ availability, and not necessarily whom you think should go with whom. Nothing is left up to the artist except obviously their personal availability – they don’t get to choose their partner, or even know who they’re working with until their date is confirmed.

NN: Have you been surprised by any of the pairings so far? What sticks out so far in your mind?

CR: I’m surprised by every pairing. Seriously, it shocks the hell out of me that anyone can produce such incredible works of art with someone they barely even know – and in such a short time frame! I do really like the pairings that you initially think would never work because they’re from two totally different spectrums, and then they end up becoming best buds and producing a kick ass song – and you’re left thinking “Did that really just happen?“ Last year (for me) that collaboration was Steve Cooley and Jecorey Arthur and this year, was probably a tie between either Johnny Berry and Yons … or Verity Vice and Otis Jr. Both so different, yet they produced such a crazy beautiful sound together, and really got along well.

NN: Is there anyone on your list that you wish you could get that you haven’t secured yet?

CR: I’d like to see Katie Toupin, Jack Harlow, or Shadwick Wilde interested at some point. But again, that’s just my perspective and why it works to have more team members with their own picks and as well. To me Jack Harlow is about as far from his stereotype as you can get – a young white rapper who wears George Straight shirts. But that’s really him, y’know? I love it. Katie could bring a strong female presence, and Shadwick is without question one of the best songwriters in our city in by book.

“To me Jack Harlow is about as far from his stereotype as you can get – a young white rapper who wears George Straight shirts. But that’s really him, y’know? I love it.”

NN: What is the Accord’s relationship to Goldsmith Studios? How did you all start working together?

CR: Answered in question 2 – The Accord sessions are also held at Goldsmith Studios each month. In addition to donating his space, Brian Cronin volunteers time mixing and producing each session.

NN: Did the break in and vandalism at Goldsmith studios have any impact on the album release? Has there been any talks about helping the studio out? Maybe a benefit show?

CR: The break in happened after our final session – once the CD’s had already been mastered and delivered. Obviously, it had a huge impact on Goldsmith Studios, but not so much the Accord project. Organizers have a Benefit show set for February 2 at Zanzabar for Goldsmith.

NN: Why AMPED? Is it always a benefit for that organization or do you all select every year?

CR: The idea is to select a different local nonprofit each year committed to some form of the arts. We all know funding for the arts is somewhat under attack. Last year was Strive creative wellness founded by Cheyenne Mize and Nina Rodahaffer, and this year was AMPED founded by Dave Christopher – each very worthy causes providing enriching experiences for our local arts community. Creating as much diversity as possible is always the biggest key ingredient of Accord.

NN: How did you get involved with WCHQ? What is your favorite thing about working there?

CR: I started DJing for WCHQ in December of 2015 – right after they earned their FM FCC License. I just saw a request for volunteer DJ’s and sent a message to Kathy Weisbach (the station manager) with my interest. A year later, I created the show Beyond the Music, and dabbled with that a bit, but my favorite thing is honestly just straight DJing. Music has always helped to lift my spirits during difficult times, and I like it when I can create a playlist of local artists that tells a story – or generates a vibe. Plus, the artists are all so appreciative when you spin their tracks, and it’s cool to follow along with their progress.

“Music has always helped to lift my spirits during difficult times, and I like it when I can create a playlist of local artists that tells a story – or generates a vibe.”

NN: Do you make music? Tell us about it if so. If not now, why?

CR: I do. I don’t think I play any instruments well enough to gig with them, but I was the lead singer in a local band called Broad Run from 2011 until 2015. We played out at the typical local venues with an occasional fund raising event, with a random middle of nowhere Indiana farm festival gig thrown in. (lol) I was a stay at home mom for a long time and didn’t do much musically until my boys were older and more independent. Except the time I auditioned and qualified as a semifinalist for Fox in the Morning Idol trying to win a car. Don’t you judge me, SYD!

After my divorce, as a single mom I was looking for a way to supplement my income, so I actually linked up with Doug Florio who was looking for a stand in for Kimmett at one time. That didn’t work out, but I did find my band mate and good friend Ken Casper who helped me start singing with a few guys from the band CattoWatts outside of Martini’s. It was a lot of fun and in some ways reminded me of myself again. I think I was just young and happy to be in a band making money.

I didn’t really think about honing my own style or finding my own voice. I had been with the same guy from the time I was 14 until I was 29 and really had no idea who I even was on my own. As far as why I don’t now, my most recent excuse has been school, but now that I’ve completed my first degree I hope to make time for myself again.

NN: How do you balance your extracurricular pursuits and parenthood?

CR: My ex and I are still best friends. I know it’s weird to some people, but I mentioned that we met at 14. We grew up together riding bikes and playing Nintendo. We still have a deep appreciation and respect for one another that overshadows our failed marriage. I couldn’t do half of the things I do now without him holding things down in the background. I stayed home once and put all of my dreams on hold for our family – and he respects that.

NN: What non-musical things get you fired up lately? Have you watched, read, eaten, or drank anything worth mentioning?

CR: I don’t watch a lot of TV, so I feel out of the loop there. My boys are usually hogging it with their xbox anyway. I am a closet Science nerd and am probably weirdly excited about this astronomy class I just started taking as a prerequisite for my master’s in teaching. And I’ve recently become obsessed with trying new recipes from Pinterest and planning an herb garden for this summer. I’m SO WILD! lol Food really gets me fired up, I live relatively close to Hilltop Tavern and will confess that I’m currently obsessed with their black bean burger and spicy Bloody Mary.

NN: What are your top three favorite albums as of today?

CR: You of all people know that’s like asking me to pick a favorite child, right? Lol I will say I currently own and wear the crap out of:
Quiet Hollers – Amen Breaks
Vandaveer – The Wild Mercury
The Space Campaign – Interspace
Non locally, I’m a big fan of everything on the Daptone Records label. A coworker showed me Menahan Street Band – Make The Toad By Walking a couple of years ago, and I’ve been hooked ever since.