by Johnnie Grant –
Elizabeth Lashay—the on-air persona of Elizabeth Garland—created and hosts Slay the Mic, a Hip-Hop and R&B radio show that airs Saturdays from 5 to 7 p.m. on 103.3 Asheville FM.
Born in Charlotte and raised in the Asheville area, Elizabeth graduated from Carolina Day School, where she is now Director of Alumni Relations & Community Engagement. In that job she works with students, community members, and alumni, and co-facilitates a program to help teachers create equitable classroom practices.
After graduating from Western Carolina University with a BS in broadcasting, Elizabeth moved to the San Francisco Bay area, where she worked for radio station 106 KMEL before returning to Asheville. Her knowledge of broadcasting, videography, and entertainment have united with her passion for community, music, and performing arts to bring new energy to Asheville’s youth.
“San Francisco is the historic home of the Black Panther Party, of unity, love, and fun. When there’s a problem the black community unifies and creates a solution together,” she says. Here Elizabeth found a lack of unity, but rather than “planning my next move out of Asheville,” she considered how to recreate a community that would be similar what she had felt in California.
In her show’s interviews with local hip-hop artists, community members, and entrepreneurs, she tries to highlight the untold stories from the black community. One of the lessons she learned long ago from hip-hop is that the many performers offer something that can speak to everyone, whether in a place of introspection or deep thinking or while getting prepared to work out.
“Music has always been a form of therapy for me,” explains Elizabeth. “When I was a teenager I attempted suicide twice, and I can vividly remember the songs that were playing at each incident, and it was lyrics of the songs that made me find a glimpse of hope in some of the darkest moments of my life.”
Now she is proud to be an artist mentor for Open Doors of Asheville and Word on the Street, two organizations that support and sustain the artistry of young Asheville residents—in particular members of minority communities. “I’ve used hip-hop to connect the dots and interpret pain, depression, anger, happiness from young individuals. The best conversations I have with teenagers is when they want to discuss a song. We then discuss the type of emotion or the feeling that resonates after hearing a song.”
Elizabeth and her colleagues are now forming a Slay the Mic street team for youth who want to learn radio entertainment and marketing skills. “It is vital to have people who look like you who can set an example. I value my mentors, [so] I am adamant to be a mirror, a listening ear, a voice, and/or a mentor for anyone who needs one.” Among those she admires are Cortina Jenelle and The Adé Project, Dwayne Barton, Darin Waters, DeWanna Little, Kimberlee Archie, Mama Hallum.
An upcoming job in June will be as Production Assistant for the 2019 BET awards. “I cannot wait to return to the Asheville area and continue to build on what I learn there,” says Elizabeth. “I hold the key to my destiny, the blueprint to my future, and the fertilizer that will help grow my passions into the fruitful life I desire.
If you or someone you know is interested in joining the Slay the Mic street team please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.