Friday, 2 August 2019

Jimi Hendrix vibes at The Troubadour! Brought to you by Ghetto Songbird with Ese and the Vooduu People

L-R Chris Nelson, Ghetto Songbird, Pharoah S-Russell, Ese Okorodudu, Basile Petite, Sheena Ross

5th July was one of the hottest days of the year! Why? Samantha Hollins, AKA Rock singer/guitarist 'Ghetto Songbird' who lives in Philadelphia, returned to the legendary Troubadour with Roxploitation band member- keyboard/percussionist, Chris Nelson.

This guys is stage one of my dream (-when we reach stage two I'll tell you.) When you see two of your favourite artists on the same bill it really is mind-blowing. Ghetto Songbird and Ese Okorodudu got in touch following Sam's visit to London two years ago. Both of these women are rising Rock icons who record and tour with extremely talented bands. Sam formed the Roxploitation Band, and Ese, The Vooduu People. It is exciting to note that both of these artists are currently receiving good levels of recognition in their home countries and extending internationally.

Back to the 'Enchanted Rock Goddess Tour,'  specifically the show! Ese and the Vooduu People opened with a great set of songs from their debut album 'DYNAMITE.' I think the album title actually summarises the entire evening! Check out the link to hear how Ese's sexy 'Sade' tone suddenly explodes into a full-on rock voice. Included were 'Silver Spoon' and 'Fairytale,' both of which deal with the mysteries of life, stripping back to the sadness and disillusionment that we all experience at times. Ese has an interesting way of portraying the darker side of life and I am curious to see how her style expands throughout her journey. Dynamite threads so enticingly through her musical tapestry leading me to believe that the depth of her talent has an iceberg quality to it.

I find it interesting that both Ghetto Songbird and Ese have been liken to Jimi Hendrix, especially as their styles are far apart on the spectrum. Ese is very at home with a little Reggae or R&B whereas Sam is hardcore rock. I have to say, the first time I heard Ese sing solo her version of 'A Change is Gonna Come' cut right through me- the only other person who has achieved this is Wayne Marshall (of G.Spot fame.) When you can feel it you know it. 

Whereas Ese has a mixed catalogue, I have only ever heard Sam sing original material. To me, this displays a different type of inner strength, guts and the confidence required to be 100% Ghetto Songbird. Sam has had a tough time in the industry and this has helped shape her material. Sam's powerful presence was fully complimented by charismatic Chris Nelson- which I truly appreciate due to the back story. I met Sam online the week she was coming to London and was lucky enough to see her perform live at the Troubadour last time round. Having Chris by her side quite literally provided 'more power to her elbow!' Sam's voice alone is pretty phenomenal leaving the dual effect we experienced difficult to describe. In the first instance Sam and Chris sang by themselves as a guitar and percussion duo; prior to Chris's move to the keyboard. They were joined by Pharoah S. Russell, Ese's drummer who had already played a full set. The fusion was such that you honestly would not know Pharoah was a guest drummer.  I must add that Basile Petite, Bass guitar, did an awesome job too as did backing singer Sheena Ross, whose voice has a brilliant range. 

Sam's repertoire covered many of her classics including 'Alley of the Earth' and 'MuthaSucka BloodSucka,' which are highly dramatic- but I'm convinced even the alphabet would sound dramatic by the time Sam's done with it! Unfortunately I can't upload to this blog, as it does not upload videos, the pure energy Sam generates throughout her entire performance. She is even energetic whilst sitting on a chair never mind when she is dancing- through which Sam reveals her cultural awareness. When vibing with her guitar Sam almost looks bewitched! She more-or-less does a whole workout so it is clear to see where the Hendrix comparison comes from- I really wish I could post this for you! To bond with your guitar and feel free enough to up the anti in a performance is a gift in itself.

Time for the last sector- all six artists jamming together onstage. I can only add that by this point the vibe in the room was  intense. The audience was hyped up and the bands were in their element, creating a mega experience to round off the night. Even a guy in the audience grabbed the mic and started rapping along; which worked, no denying. 

Last thoughts: A few years ago I wrote a poem called, 'Expressive, Explosive Fun'  which will be included in my first poetry book. On Reflection, I think this is the best phrase to describe the evening and would just add- 'with a touch of genius!'

Jaz McKenzie~ The Word Magician

Maxi Priest - I'm Alright (feat. Shaggy) (Official Music Video)

Sometimes, when a song has such a great feel good factor I just have to share it! 'I'm Alright' is definitely one of those songs musically and lyrically. It doesn't matter who you are, you are alright and, with a determined attitude, you can get through any situation.

Our power lies within and we have the power to set ourselves free from everything in this life that is holding us back. Music plays a very important part in lifting our vibration so that we can find the good place we seek and from that place more good comes. If you find yourself in a position where you feel uncomfortable ask yourself why? Who are you listening to? That really is a key question because we tend to listen to others more than ourselves. Be bold, put your voice first. Do not be in bondage when you can free yourself. Sometimes we are held back through complying with public opinion, friends opinions or internal forces such as apprehension, fear of failure and so forth. Do what it takes to move ahead. Lift your mood before examining a situation to prevent the downside from clouding your view. If you want to progress you must view your life from the upside, so playing a track like this sets the intention whilst lifting your spirits.

Freedom of mind is an entitlement that many fail to recognise or claim. We can let go of worry and view positive solutions, even if this means mentally over-riding our current circumstances. Nowadays, when I start to worry I put a stop to it as quickly as possible and you can do this by thinking about something else. Life has a way of working out, so expect it to work out for the best and you will see an overall improvement. When I started this blog I created a series called, 'Live Life~ Love Life,' and still stand by that sentiment. Play this track a few times, feel great and enjoy yourself- after all, why be miserable when we have a choice? I'm alright guys and trust that you are too!

Jaz McKenzie~ The Word Magician

#maxipriest #shaggy #behappy #im'malright #havefun #enjoylife

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