NTS — a renowned London-based online radio station and music discovery platform specializing in underground artists — has chosen Charleston’s Contour as one of eight artists from around the world to take part in its inaugural WIP (Work in Progress) initiative, a one-year artist development program aiming to elevate artists to the next stage of their careers. Among many other opportunities, Contour’s Khari Lucas will spend the summer at an NTS residency at Villa Lena in Tuscany, Italy.

“NTS has been one of my primary sources for listening/music discover since around 2016. I actually did a one off radio show to promote Softer back in ‘17,” says Lucas. “It’s kind of surreal to me because this is a platform that is both international and has such a well-curated, expansive range of programming. It really feels like a step in the right direction for me.”

Funded in part by Arts Council England, NTS WIP reviewed thousands of applications before deciding on artists to launch the program. During the year of artist development, NTS WIP offers acts audio equipment, an NTS radio show, music video, live international shows, industry mentoring, digital content, and press photos.

“I was up late one night listening to their radio shows and saw their promo about the program and immediately applied,” he says. “It was literally like 4 a.m.”

Lucas says the app process began during the fall of 2018 and entailed submitting samples of his work along with a self-descriptive essay, general info about his craft and career, and a telephone interview. He was notified of his acceptance last month.

A Tuscan farmhouse, hotel, organic farm, restaurant, and art foundation, the Villa Lena will host artists’ residency for 10 days. “I’ll be participating in some workshops/mentorship specific to the foundations areas of expertise as well as doing some structured studio time, “ says Lucas, “And, of course, taking time to explore Italy.”