By Nicole S. Daniel | The Birmingham Times
The World Games 2022 (TWG 2022) kick off in Birmingham next week, and not only is the city prepared but one of the area’s premier DJs for the event—Gerald Knight, aka DJ New Era—is prepared, as well.
Knight announced in late May on social media that he was selected to be one of the DJs at Legion Field, site of the flag football competition. His daily responsibilities will include hyping the crowd, playing music during warmups and when a team scores, making sure the music matches the vibe, and most importantly keeping everyone entertained.
TWG 2022, which will draw elite athletes from more than 100 countries around the globe, will take place from July 7 through July 17, 2022, at various venues across the Birmingham metro area—including Protective Stadium, Legion Field, the Birmingham CrossPlex, and the Hoover Metropolitan Complex—and is expected to have an estimated $256 million in economic impact.
Knight, 35, who also DJs basketball and softball games at the University of Alabama (UA), grew up in a very strict two-parent household with two brothers—one older, Eugene, and one younger, Randall—in Fairfield, Alabama. There were no video games on school nights, and the boys had to be in bed by 8:30 p.m.
Knight describes his parents as very supportive and notes that they play a major role in his life. Both his mother and father are members of historically Black Greek letter organizations (BGLOs) that make up the National Pan-Hellenic Council, collectively referred to as “The Divine Nine”: his father is a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Incorporated, and his mother is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated.
When Knight decided that he wanted to become a DJ, he turned to his parents for financial support to buy equipment.
“My parents would help me get bookings for Greek events, and they would support me by showing up and cheering me on,” said Knight, adding that his father, who worked at the Veterans Administration (VA) Medical Center, would often recommend his son for corporate events.
Growing up, Knight loved shoes and clothes. Because he had expensive taste and wanted to buy certain name brands, he had to find a way to make money while at Fairfield High Preparatory School and when he went to college at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH).
“I wanted to become a DJ when I saw how much money I could make,” he said.
At the age of 21, he sharpened his DJ skills after his parents invested in turntables for him. He also watched videos on YouTube, where he learned the basics of mixing. Eventually, he had the opportunity to shadow a few DJs and learned how to hook up speakers and better work his turntables.
Word of Mouth
Becoming a DJ enabled Knight to both express himself through fashion and earn money. While in college, a lot of his income came from selling CDs and mixtapes to students, as well as through his bookings, most of which came from word of mouth. Although he was a student at UAH, he was also popular on the Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University (AAMU) campus.
“I was always [at AAMU] passing out business cards and selling mixtapes,” said the DJ, who notes that his preferred type of music is old-school R&B and lists Anita Baker, Brian McKnight, Joe, Chaka Khan, Whitney Houston, and the Isley Brothers as some of his favorites.
Knight also earned his moniker, DJ New Era, during his college years. He was known for wearing headgear by the New Era Cap Company, headquartered in Buffalo, New York, that has been the exclusive baseball cap supplier for Major League Baseball since 1934. According to Knight, his name stands for new beginnings. When a person hears his name, he said, he wants them to think of him being cool, sexy, talented, humble, self-made, and God-fearing.
“With age comes growth, and you have to grow with your age,” said Knight. “Change is good, and it’s needed when you want to grow.”
Knight graduated from UAH in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in management information systems. He chose the major because it was in the business field, and he knew he wanted to do something that involved computers and marketing. “I use that degree when it comes to marketing and branding myself,” he said.
After graduation, Knight went on to build a name for himself with appearances in Alabama, New York, Georgia, and Texas, as well as in Las Vegas, Nevada, and Miami, Florida—all of which attracted the attention of large corporations, such as Victoria’s Secret, Macy’s, DSW, and Abercrombie and Fitch.
Knight currently co-hosts the “Alabama in the Morning” show with female host Amber “Alabama” Cole on 103.7 The Q (WQEN-FM); the program airs Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Knight delivers an open format style of mixing, successfully blending different genres of music, including hip-hop, rock, reggae, house music, and more.
“God Is Good”
Like many in the Birmingham metro area, Knight is looking forward TWG 2022. “When I received the email, I was excited because [it] read, ‘The World Games.’ It took me an hour to reply back [because] I didn’t want to seem too eager,” Knight laughed.
He was recommended for TWG 2022 by faculty and staff at UA, where he is contracted to DJ for basketball and softball games. Reminiscing, he remembers that his favorite UA gig was DJing a Welcome Week event for freshmen, which led to a contract with the school’s athletic department specifically to serve as DJ for the basketball and softball teams.
“Networking is key in my book for success. God is good and right on time,” he said.
When TWG 2022 event coordinators reached out to UA for DJ recommendations, they recommended Knight. Asked if this will be a challenge, Knight said, “Not at all. I’m very versatile.”
“UA has made me become comfortable due to the diversity the school has, and my music catalog is enormous,” he said.
You can listen to DJ New Era on the “Alabama in the Morning” show, which airs Monday through Friday, from 6 a.am to 10 a.m., on 103.7 The Q (WQEN-FM).
This article originally appeared in The Birmingham Times.