Thursday, 28 March 2019

A quick insight into artist Zeener!

Hi Guys. As some of you may know I occasionally write artists bio's and recently wrote the bio below which I have chosen to share. Zeener (formally Zeena) is a Dancehall artist who impressed me the very first time I heard her sing; which was at one of Michael Arkk's events for The Heritage of Ska. Since then she has continued honing both her performance and songwriting skills, resulting in some exciting opportunities as you will see!

As this is a mini bio focusing on Zeener's musical talents we omitted mentioning her natural acting ability, which is excellent, so I'll mention her key achievement here. Zeener played Denise in the popular comedy show 'Double Trouble,' touring with internationally known actors Charles Tomlinson, Devon Morgan and Lovena Brown. She thoroughly enjoyed the experience however decided to concentrate on singing rather than directing her attention elsewhere. Now we'll move onto Zeener's bio.


Meet Zeener! Original Solid Gold Posse daughter of the first Dancehall Kings and Queens! Bursting with energy, this authentic Jamaica artist catches people’s attention. Since Beenie Man called her on stage at the Pan Head Festival, she has opened for Lady Saw, Ishawna, Bunny Striker Lee and Fleur East in the UK. She has performed with Peter Hunningale. Owen Gray, and recently, Levi Roots at his Smokehouse and beloved Rastahouse. Other notable Venues include The Jamm, Hootananny, Boisdale- Canary Wharf, M.M.C.O. Emporium, Jazz CafĂ©, Kensington Roof Top Gardens. 

2017 Zeener made history. She won the first ever Song4JA with her original song, ‘Who Run De World, Jamaica.’  Zeener flew to Jamaica, courtesy of competition organizers UKunsigned/Song4Ja and JamIn_UK. Thrilled to leave ‘foreign’ and return to her homeland for Jamaica’s 55th Independence celebration, Zeener debuted her winning song on CMTV, Sunrise Live, broadcast internationally, and sang at the National Stadium during the standing ovation ceremony! She loved touring Jamaica as guest artist of the JCDC (Jamaican Cultural Development Commission;) especially her visit to Maxfield Park Children’s Home near her old primary school.

Zeener recently completed her album, voiced in Jamaica, under Midnight Rock Records and is currently working with Mad Professor, Ariwa Records, on a DJ-DUB Project which will result in a few single releases. She has a track on a Reggae Compilation Album called ‘Reggae United’ available March 2019 and is busy stamping her mark on the industry.

Jaz Mckenzie

Sunday, 3 March 2019

The secret to life- Perfect Timing!

'Don't play with your Food!' Maurice Sparrow- photographer
You may not appreciate times when life seems to go wrong but it really is a matter of timing. I'm sure if we asked photographer Maurice Sparrow, he would tell us that for every perfect shot he has taken a succession of shots not to his liking. I know from back in the day when we had a modelling agency that you can take over 100 shots to find the one you're looking for- not a waste of time, more, a necessity.

This Kingfisher is inordinately beautiful. He is relaxed and as Maurice says, playing with his food. That fish is being skilfully tossed around prior to the big swallow! Isn't this what life does to us when it's busy lining something up? How many frogs do we kiss before finding the prince? How many interviews before the big job offer? How many jobs before we realise our destiny lies in a different direction? None of it is wasted time, it is preparation or 'schooling' so that we are in a position to cope at the right time, or able to recognise  a person or situation for what it truly is.

Timing is an art. Very obvious where music, dance, engineering and other such things are concerned. But we are emotional beings so we constantly question things- which is good and part of the learning process. Some questions are rhetorical, even pitiful; 'why did that have to happen to me?' Being spoken without thought, reactionary questions. But there usually comes a time when you have to ask 'why,' especially if patterns repeat themselves. We cannot necessarily improve our timing but we can improve our use of time. We can use it: to learn new skills, for emotional education, to explore opportunities, possibly counselling and so forth. We can work towards our goals knowing that if we do our part with dedication and consistency everything will fall into place at the right time.

Maurice is an excellent photographer and if you care to go to his webpage you will see famous faces. What you will not see are these beautiful, delicate shots. A love of birds is clearly his passion. When we take time to acquire talents they can serve us in many different ways. Maurice's passion feeds into my inspiration. This is not the first picture to captivate me so I'll share my previous little Kingfisher blog. Last time through poetry, this time an idea. Both blogs were written immediately as thoughts flowed but on other occasions blogging has taken several hours; it just depends what is being presented.

Back to the now- enjoy every minute of your day and understand that we all have perfect timing in our lives. Ahhh more inspiration!

Don't play with your food!
And Mama said, 'Don't play with your food- it's rude
Be a good boy, eat it up like you should.
So you don't like peas? 
I see them squashed between your knees!
Is that broccoli in the fish tank? Oh no! that's rank.
From the plate to the fork and the fork to the mouth
Pop it right in before it goes south
And lands on the floor- what was that?
You want more- chips? Huh, fast food goes fast
Healthy is a no go, but you'll have to eat your fish
and your PEAS right now or No NO NO
What Mama says is how it's gonna go
Mama knows best. Finish it now- go.

Jaz McKenzie~ The Word Magician

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Love Latin Vibes? Love Hip Hop? New mixtape available now from Robyn and Tiago

Time to meet Robyn & Tiago, an independent due who have just released their new Mixtape which arrived along with a few accolades from the USA!

In this special Mixtape Robyn & Tiago are bringing us their uniquely 'Latin Influenced' Hip/Hop vibes and you will find the current popular Latin flavour very evident, especially in the title track, 'Know Your Worth.'  The Mixtape has been released on the Duo's own record label (also titled 'Know Your Worth;' ) which gives a very clear message of the high quality these young artists are aiming to achieve. As you would expect, Robyn and Tiago have written and produced all their music in a project close to their hearts that was undertaken in their own recording studio. 

By now you are probably asking, 'Why: Know Your Worth?' This isn't just a statement or piece of advice, it is a conclusion the Duo have reached as a result of their personal journeys, the course of which weaves through the Mixtape as Robyn and Tiago reveal the struggles they faced growing up and the process of finding themselves. The pair have reached the conclusion that family is more about loyalty than blood ties and that loyalty makes you family. Their key message is that whatever you go through in life, once you know your own worth you should never give up on your dreams. 

Robyn and Tiago are beginning to attract some recognition. Towards the end of 2018 they attended the UK Glamour awards at Spearmint Rhino and The Essex TV awards on the same evening! Following this they recently announced via social media that they have a new TV show coming out on Essex TV called Robyn & Tiago Meets... where they will interview various celebrities, sports stars & musicians, offering advice along with the secret to success. This is definitely a show to include in your viewing schedule. 

The Duo have a couple more things that will be coming up soon in the pipeline. They will be heading back to their second home in LA  to shoot hot new music videos with the team and to work with some outstanding producers. Here in the UK the are planning to hit the road and tour - dates to be announced soon, so keep an eye on their social media @RobynTiago 

In summary, Robyn & Tiago are a hard working pair who have one aim and that's to use their platform to make a difference.

Know Your Worth Mixtape now available for purchase on all digital platforms worldwide.

Thursday, 10 January 2019

Greatness lies in the Quiet before the storm

To become great you may well need to shut up and be quiet! Greatness dwells in moments of inspiration, a growing awareness of the passions that stir your heart. If you disagree please think about it for a moment.

Let's start with the obvious by considering the current kaleidoscope of talent shows that have emerged during the past decade- how often have those acts been working on their talents at home, doing the circuit, entertaining for free or a pittance whilst gaining experience? Talent TV shows become their storm, their chance to shine and even then the serious work takes place behind the scenes during weeks of mentoring, image polishing etc. Each week we watch the show and there are probably a couple of people who really stand out from the rest.

So how can we best describe the quiet before the storm? The quiet refers to those moments in daily life where we are inspired. Maybe you have raw talent to hone and spend countless hours practising, painting or composing whilst your friends are out having fun. Others may be inspired through anger over injustice; possibly out of a desire to create awareness over something that has been triggered through personal experience; hence so many campaigns This is when the 'greatness' switch is turned on. All of us are great at something which is often realised fairly early on by family, friends or colleagues. Alternatively, if you're suddenly inspired/discovered later in life- Susan Boyle or J. K. Rowling for example, people may be in awe, shocked or even envious!

There are different levels of greatness, some attributed by society due to outstanding qualities which, whether you like or dislike a person, cannot be denied. If you say, 'name a boxer,' I imagine Muhammad Ali would be the person who comes to most people's minds-floats like a butterfly, stings like a bee! Isaac Newton flashes in my mind when you say scientist, Martin Luther King JR for civil rights, Emmeline Pankhurst when speaking of British political activists and so on. Obviously there are many famous people who have earnt recognition in all walks of life, especially music or art where personal taste comes into play. We can see that greatness is spread liberally, however, everybody lives a life filled with choices, the greatest amongst these being whether to use or lose your sparkle.

If you think for a minute of children who may be born with a debilitating disease, on so many occasions we hear people describe their personalities with affection and often admiration. This shows us that sometimes greatness lies within the act of just being, accepting and staying positive; all of which require great courage. A quick out of the box thought here: we might think that people don't choose to be a certain way but we don't know how our spiritual intentions work or how they may apply prior to birth.

The seeds of greatness are certainly something to be found in the stillness of our minds. I believe this is part of the reason we sometimes need to take breaks not just from everyday life, but also from projects. Often we hit a point where the ideas dry up. It may be good to leave that project for a reasonable length of time and the probability is that it will begin to flow once again, your ideas having had time to re-formulate.

Quietness and stillness create space for our minds to function at deeper levels and access our super-conscious. This is the true source of creative flow and our job is to be aware of our ideas, write them down and provided we continue with a positive focus and expectation, they have an opportunity to come to fruition. Usually our talents or ideas develop best within a team with the help, skills and insights of others. Genius is a joy to be shared and by allowing other people's genius to shine, everything builds momentum.

After thought: I composed my first ever poem in my head in the bath! This year I will be publishing, with someone's help but I don't know whose!!, my first book of poems entitled, 'Piranha in the Goldfish Bowl.' I will include my original poem, 'Zachary.' Artist Tim Stocks has kindly painted a canvas to be photographed for the cover. I am delighted not just to receive his help, but also through creating another opportunity to share his work- and the idea for this also came in a moment of quietness, so let's expect the book to kick up a storm!

Jaz McKenzie~ The Word Magician

Monday, 31 December 2018

Helicopter Highlight!! Banstead to Bournemoth in a blink.

Peter, Errol, Macky and the Green Bird at a secret location  in Bournemouth!!!
One of my highlights in what has proved to be an interesting and varied year came as a total surprise! It is also a perfect example of how the universe works its magic of synchronicity. Let's start at the beginning.

I usually work Mondays, in fact I hadn't swapped a Monday for the year, when my boss asked if I could take the following Monday off and work Thursday instead. I agreed and was extremely surprised when Macky McPherson, (Urban Delight Entertainment,) asked if I'd like to visit Bournemouth with him the coming Monday- and we'd be travelling by helicopter!! To be honest, I had never really thought much about flying in a helicopter however, it was such an exciting opportunity arriving out of the blue so to speak (!!!) and one not to be missed.

Peter Gilbert, co-owner of Madding Crowd, Bournemouth. supplied the beautiful green helicopter pictured above, to transport Macky, Errol Kennedy (80's group Imagination) and myself to the club for a meeting. Funnily enough the helicopter was stationed only 4 miles up the road from me! Having parked the car, we had to hitch over a fence into the field where the helicopter was waiting- blades busily whirring. Trust me, climbing into this magnificent machine was more of a challenge than hitching the fence!

Stopping to refuel
Liam, our pilot, was very experienced and provided a whole range of information pertaining to flying and helicopters in particular. The key points of interest to me were that it takes 5 minutes for the helicopter to warm up and its tank holds two and a half  hours worth of fuel. Due to the morning's journey prior to take off, not the distance to and from Bournemouth, we needed to refuel, at which point it decided to rain! Poor Liam having to dash out in the wet. The next point of interest, which I hadn't thought about, is that most helicopters can't fly in the dark- no route markings guys or lighting across such a vast expanse of sky. One very reassuring point was that Liam runs his own safety checks before every journey, which is not always the case with commercially hired pilots who may think these have been undertaken by the firms engineers. A little something for you to consider if planning a ride.

I still think 'WOW.' As you can see the weather was mainly good with clear views
Once in the helicopter we were instructed to put on headsets, with mic's, so that we could communicate- totally necessary once you go up in the air as the noise from the blades becomes very loud.The take off was different to that of an aeroplane as you literally go up and forwards instantly. It's a funny feeling and I found the journey a little choppy at times, the turbulence being slightly different to an aeroplane. It was also a little dizzying at one point but that was probably due to continually looking at the view! I have to say, it's amazing gazing out of the window, particularly as the helicopter ascends and you start seeing the ground from a new angle. The view is excellent as you are in a 'box of windows' so to speak, after all, you're in a pod! Seeing the layout of the land is fascinating. You don't think too much about it in an aeroplane as it's more of a keyhole view, but because the helicopter is flying significantly lower and slower you develop an eye for intrigue, which lies in the details as they unveil themselves.

Everyday patchwork homes

Everyday patchwork houses
Squeezed within the grid
Of an outer London zone
The kind of place millions of us
Enjoy calling 'HOME,'

Living cheek by jowl
Creating community
Still part of the rat race
By necessity...
That's just the way it is

So many beating hearts
And pairs of helping hands
The salt of the earth
Speckled through the land...
And that's keeping it real

Jaz Mckenzie 2018

By way of contrast,  however we passed over some very exclusive properties; these are far from the best!
Time for a commercial break guys!
F.Y.I. early that morning before we ventured out the weather was so appalling Macky had to confirm the flight. Fortunately the skies cleared leaving good weather for most of the day. When the rain started I discovered another interesting fact- some helicopters don't have window wipers. They are shaped in such a way that the rain runs straight off- how convenient is that? It's almost- splat and roll, part of the helicopter vibe you could say.

Cultivated patterns
One of the greatest joys I discovered during the ride was seeing how beautifully tended our countryside is. At ground level you cannot see how incredible the layouts are, being composed of patterns within patterns. This picture fails to do the farmers work justice as the details are quite mind blowing. When we buy our vegetables most of us are not aware of this aspect of their origins. We know about organic farming, chemicals etc, but not necessarily the love and dedication a farmer applies to his or her trade. To me, this was a tremendous eye opener.

I love the contrast between these two pictures. The first was taken on the outbound journey and the second, about 20 minutes before landing hence the subdued pre-evening lighting. These autumn shades are so delicious, especially the golden trees. I think if I were to design a garden I would include a diamond of red and gold trees, as a statement, to reinforce how blessed we are  by nature, even in the inner city. Something that should be high on our list of appreciation.

My final picture has to be the rainbow. What could be more perfect than flying towards a rainbow? I must convey my thanks to Peter and Liam for providing this experience, and to Macky who chose to include me.  I think by allowing time since the event rather than blogging it immediately I have fully assimilated this awesome experience.  It's definitely not about just going on a helicopter ride, it's about engaging new perspectives and levels of consciousness about our connections and environment.

Jaz McKenzie~ The Word Magician

Monday, 19 November 2018

HATERS- My least favourite topic!

I really have no time for haters but once again Facebook keeps sharing little messages about them. I am not interested. Why? Haters do not deserve any of my mind space or yours! So what if people are bad minded and say nasty things about you? Your true friends know the truth and those who don't can remain ignorant or ask for your side of the story.

Very often these people make snide remarks that they hope will undermine your confidence. The thing is, if you are confident, which you should be as you are obviously doing well enough to command attention, then these comments should slide off you leaving the hater frustrated.

There's a phrase I have heard so many times and fail to understand. It goes like this:
'I love my haters because they inspire me to do better.' Think about it for a minute. Why would you embrace hate in any form? Why would you be inspired by so much negativity? Why would you introduce negative vibes into a positive project? I find this crazy. Inspiration should be rooted in positive vibrations, thoughts and feelings if it is to flourish.

Let's consider the hater a bit more. Why do they hate? It's actually not because you are doing better than them, It's because they do not have the necessary elements to be successful right now. They may not be confident; lack inspiration; lack dedication or have all of these qualities but cannot maintain the belief that they will be successful. Mindset is key and they need to get it right to succeed.

How can you deal with your haters? This will depend upon the severity of the problem. In extreme cases it is probably best to cut contact. If you are having difficulty with a friend or family member, you might need to recognise the jealousy for what it is and decide if there is a need to support that person, or simply acknowledge the comments without giving them any credit- 'is that what you really think?'- and carry on.

The key to success is to focus on success. Let your achievements speak volumes and allow your mistakes to whisper. The message I have picked up recently is to keep building on your strengths rather than tackling your weaknesses. Maybe this would be a useful piece of advice for your haters and one that helps them to turn the corner. There really is no point in wishing people ill regardless of what they do or say about us. Our aim should be to go up not down, so do not lower your standards and embrace other people's poor attitudes. Love is more powerful than hate and leads to happiness whereas hatred increases bitterness. Next time you receive hateful comments, pay no mind and keep doing what you're doing- remember, ultimately you burst your own bubble!

Jaz McKenzie~ The Word Magician

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Big Brass Ska Band strikes the Madding Crowd!!

Feel the vibes~ Big Brass Ska

Introduction before commencing to our live event at Madding Crowd.Club; a collaboration with Urban Delight Entertainment.

I think most people would agree that Ska music is possibly Reggae's most fun platform and one that truly needs excellent live musicians on board to perform it. In fact, I wouldn't appreciate Ska any other way. Strangely enough, up until this point I had never been to a live Ska night despite attending many Reggae events; very odd really given that I interviewed Free Town back in the day for Numen Records! My greatest Ska- (well, skinhead Reggae officially) experiences prior to this event would be seeing Frank Pitter (Symarip Pyramids) perform 'Skinhead Moonstomp,' a smash hit and revolutionary song, in Balham. This was where we first met, and since then I have interviewed both Frank and Monty Neysmith, also from Symarip Pyramids, about their musical journey on different occasions for Buffaloo Radio.
Frank Pitter Its Braap Interview.

Ska is a genre that appears in the charts from time to time and is currently very popular however stays just below the major musical radar. I believe 'My Boy Lollipop,' by Millie, was the first major hit here in the UK- pause for thought guys- who in their right minds would put the words 'boy and 'lollipop' together these days? In a way, this tongue-in-cheek approach is essential to Ska, the words being a huge part of the fun that makes this a care-free art form.


Now onto the big stuff you've been waiting for! I love the way Big Brass Ska take a jovially serious approach to their music. They are a highly professional outfit who even wear branded gear, so take a quick look at the back of their T-shirts to know who you are speaking with and which instrument they play! It's a novel approach and I heard one of the crowd saying what a great idea this was- and the band hadn't even warmed up yet! Getting to the action, these 10 stunning musicians kicked off with 241, making an instant impression on the audience, especially as they literally have a proper brass section which, when combined with great chemistry across the board, adds that extra ingredient responsible for producing fully flavoured Ska. Somehow the whole band fitted on the stage but ultimately they didn't restrict themselves, spilling over onto the floor as the night progressed- to the delight of the audience who were fully immersed in popular track after popular track. We had songs from classic Ska bands including Madness and The Specials; too many tunes to name really and they had everyone singing and dancing all night long.


Following the intermission we were treated to a couple of songs by Urban Delight artist and Lover's Rock/Reggae singer, Norris B. Norris is blessed with an exceptional voice and great stage presence. If I were an X-Factor judge I'd be saying, 'Norris is one of the nicest people I have ever met!' When we were chatting during the interval Norris said to me, 'I would love to perform with this band.' The universe was on point when, having sung his first number, 3 of the band mounted the stage and accompanied him for his second song, 'Hands of Time.' You can check the video to catch the result which was totally unrehearsed. I'll just add that the ability to freestyle successfully with an artist distinguishes quality musicians from average musicians.

Now, onto my surprise of the night! This came in classic form when the band played their version of, 'Tears of a Clown,' -Smokey Robinson's outstanding hit. I have always thought this to be an immensely clever song- how many of us hide our fears and worries beneath a daily up-beat facade? The big question you may be asking- does this work as s Ska cover? Hell Yeah! By taking an upbeat tune and making it even more update the band are simply adding to the original concept.


To finish with, there's a little saying that comes to mind when enjoying Big Brass Ska, 'It ain't what you do it's the way that you do it.' I give the band huge kudos for their energy, performance and unity- BUT, I'm taking away a point for failing to play my favourite song- where the heck did that rat in the kitchen go? Well, I guess he's just not allowed on licensed premises!!

Please note: all links have been highlighted so you can check out my references.

Jaz McKenzie ~ The Word Magician