Saturday, 31 March 2012

~IB~ TOP BLOG AWARDS ~ 1st Place~ Our First Ever Winner is ~CHAYNNELL RUE~

FIRST PLACE: Unique Poems by Chaynnell Rue. 28th November 2011

Snippet from one of Chaynnell's Poems:


Love is a subject I really don't share
even though my heart is real big and very dear
a smile a day can kill any mood and change ur ways
Love is like a smile that u show the world day to day

Congratulations to CHAYNNELL RUE ~Its Braap~Its Life overall winner!! and Thank you! ~IB~

~IB~ TOP BLOG AWARDS ~ 2nd Place~ Our Winner is ~IB ARTICLE~

SECOND PLACE: Everyday’s A Birthday: Reclaiming Your Life (Article) 27th January 2012

Quote from the Article:
Every day we are a day older and if we apply the ability to live and learn, a day wiser. Wisdom is a gift to seek and develop that requires application. Sometimes wisdom grows when we learn to apply it, occasionally passively, allowing people space to explore and learn for themselves rather than supplying all the answers.

Thanks to all our Braappers for your support... This one's for you!

~IB~ TOP BLOG AWARDS ~ 3rd Place~ Our Winner is ~STOKELY ROSE~

THIRD PLACE: Getting Fit Naturally in Jamaica ~Try It~
(Keep Fit Club) Stokely Rose (Article) 5th December 2011

Quote from the article:
We have transformed lives and brought fitness and health awareness to many individuals and institutions. Our activities include: partnering with Health Clubs to put on Fitness Hikes, Moonlight Excursion, Beach Fun Day, Scenic Tours and other outdoor activities,

Congratulations to STOKELY ROSE and Thank you! ~IB~

~IB~ TOP BLOG AWARDS ~ 4th Place~ Our Winner is ~IYA INGI~

FOURTH PLACE: Its Braap> Iya Ingi >Ithiopian Musical Ambassada
(Interview) 23rd October 2011

Quote from the interview:

What elements do you create to make your music stand out from other peoples?
The elements that I include in my music to have it stand out is I don’t only try to put together words that are rhyming and melodies, I try to bring a specific message across. A message of love, a message of being aware of life and your surroundings and just knowing that we are all a member of a global community,

Congratulations to IYA INGI and Thank you! ~IB~

~IB~ TOP BLOG AWARDS ~ 5th Place~ Our Winner is ~BLACKK BLUNT~

FIFTH PLACE: Catching up with Blackk Bluntt award winning reggae artist
(Interview) 3rd Feb 2012

Quote from the interview:

You appeared alongside Buju Banton... How long ago was that & how did it make you feel?
That was in 2007 at Stratford Rex & it was a good feeling. Even though we weren’t on stage together, just knowing that he’s on that show & I did end up meeting him in person,

Congratulations to BLACKK BLUNT and Thank you! ~IB~


Today we present the 1st EVER ~IB~ AWARDS in recognition of our TOP 5 BLOGS!!

These are for the period Oct 2011- Mar 2012

March is the beginning of Spring: a great time to celebrate change and equally to recognize merit and present rewards. Our winners are selected automatically according to Google’s figures and are the all time top 5 blogs, which received the most hits, therefore the selection is totally unbiased.

If you missed any of the articles and would like to check them out you can enter the blog details in the search box (to the right) to find the blog quickly, alternatively go to the correct month.

A HUGE THANK YOU TO EVERYONE who has contributed to Its Braap~Its Life; your efforts are widely appreciated! ~IB~ TEAM

Friday, 30 March 2012

Untitled: from Michael Arkk’s collection of poems ‘Congregation.’

These poems have been written over a number of years; in fact as far back as Michael can remember! At the time of writing this poem Michael was a Gospel singer and very influenced by religious teachings. He has since broadened his musical scope and primarily sings reggae, however has ventured into distant territory covering a Cold Play song,‘Yellow.’ Michael is currently living his dream, I.E.: creating the Heritage of Ska Festival which hosted another successful event last night in Shoreditch.

Like a tear she flows
The river- inexhaustible mother
Unstoppable, patient, free
For joy-For victory
For reasons without name
Perpetual free
Beautiful mother flow

Inexhaustible father
Bringing, bearing, offering
Freely like a tear he flows,
Powerful, courageous,
Tranquil, strong, breaking danger like a twig in a storm.
Gathering to divide
Father river flow.

Inexhaustible lover
The river, crystal, nomad
Covers with meticulous care,
Like the mangrove after the monsoon
Marvellous, majestic.
No stone unturned
Lover river passionate flow
Gathering to divide.

Michael Arkk 05.06.96

If you would like to have your poetry featured on our popular blog, please send with photo to

Thursday, 29 March 2012

James Morrison - One Life [Acoustic] A lesson in appreciating Life!

This song is beautifully written and reveals so many truths. When we are young we don't usually pay too much attention to life, living day by day whereas with the passing of time, time itself begins to impact and we realize the need to live and achieve. The more we live the more we need to fill our lives with ambition and challenges to reach a high level of satisfaction. Time gives us an understanding of the true values rather than taking life for-granted. Count your blessings, use your gifts and enjoy life.

James Morrison is a very skilled lyricist and let's thank him for this reminder to make the most of each day. Action verses procrastination~where do you stand?

Jaz McKenzie



Which blog made it to #1?

Is it a video?
Is it a poem?
Is it an article?
Is it an interview?


Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Be Braap~Be Inspired!!! Real quotes from Real People!! #5

"Consistency is (Key) if a (Door) is closed try using it."

" Anything worth having is worth fighting for. "

These sayings reflect me as a person in terms of determination desire and drive. Focus and fight births achievement.

King Logic Follow me @Kinglogical

BE BRAAP! Send us your favourite quotes or sayings with a few words... you can include a photo of yourself (optional) to: These can be your own quotes or famous sayings and we will include them in this section: 'Be Braap~ Be Inspired.' NOTE: you do not have to be a great writer, simply send YOUR quote with YOUR thoughts in 10 or more words as the aim is to inspire others!

Monday, 26 March 2012

SHHHHH... Advice in a poem


Don’t know what to say?
Say nothing.
Don’t know what to do?
Do nothing.
Wisdom dictates
That on occasion
The best form of action

Action can

Words can hurt and lie

No action
More space
No words
More room

Hiatus in time
Clear thought
Caring words
Correct action
Best result

Take time
Take care
Take control

Jaz McKenzie 2012 ©

If you would like your poems on our blog send to

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Can you feel the Pain? Coping with bullying. Live Life~Love Life WK 14

Life can be a very strange phenomenon, people being equally strange at times! Today we are looking at a situation that affects many, the deliberate infliction of pain i.e.: bullying. We have all met people who seem to acquire pleasure from hurting others through either physical or emotional acts. In some ways the physical is easier to cope with simply because there is no denying the intention of a direct physical action. You punch me, I hurt: A simple equation.

How about identifying emotional pain that can on occasion be so subtle you are left wondering whether it was deliberate? This can be very difficult and maybe the best way to decide whether a remark is intentionally vindictive is through your experience of that person. If they are usually nice to you, it might just be a bad moment where they were angry or failed to consider what they were saying first! This is not the kind of remark we are concerned with as no-one’s perfect and we can all give as well as receive bad throwaway remarks. You will also find that if a remark was not meant the person who made it will probably be genuinely sorry about its effect.

The problem comes when people eat away at you with sarcasm, cutting remarks, rudeness and clearly have an over powering desire to upset you. This is often connected, either consciously or sub-consciously, with instances where you do not jump to a command or do something that you know will meet with disapproval! It is difficult to function well in this situation so the best route is to walk away where possible. Leaving that relationship (or job behind if you are having problems with your boss or a colleague that cannot be resolved) and seeking better elsewhere will quickly allow you to rebuild your confidence and take your life in a new direction. If leaving is not an option then you will need to be resourceful in order to maintain a strong sense of your value and self-worth, whilst finding a mechanism to cope with the stress such behaviour is bound to generate.

The first thing to realise is that if you can find a way to handle constant cutting remarks and what amounts to emotional cruelty, you are the stronger person. How easy is it to go around hurting others? Pretty easy once you know what is guaranteed to upset someone else. It takes little in the way of skill and can usually be turned on at the drop of a hat. To resist such attacks takes an extraordinary amount of practice and self control. Preparation is key. Being able to identify the situation that will lead to a verbal attack so that when it comes you can say to yourself, ‘told you so!’

One of the best courses of action is to walk away from conversations or situations that are guaranteed to end in upset. How frustrating for that person if you are calm and they are denied an opportunity to ‘get at you.’ If they do manage to upset you do not retaliate, keep your composure and mentally brush it off. Not easy, but with practice you can build up your defences and eventually become a little immune to some of it. Having things in your life to focus on is important. If you have problems at home then focus on your work and visa versa. Hopefully there will be periods when you are on your own and you can use these times to relax, unwind and focus on positives such as your strong points, how to move your life forwards and be in control.

If you are able to help the person understand how they are treating you, (although most people are very aware of their actions) and the effect it has, you may be lucky and find that they care enough about you to try and change. It might be that you can help them address the underlying need that causes them to behave in this way, maybe seeking counselling or another form of support. Possible reasons for low self esteem or lack of confidence might include: they were teased a lot, suffered another way at some point before you met them, or felt that they have failed themself in some way resulting in bitterness and resentment. Important point: you can only help those who want to help themselves.

Ultimately it is your life and you need to take charge if you wish to live it rather than just survive. Whatever your position now, it need not remain for ever. Take courage in both hands and work out how best to live today and plan for tomorrow.

Jaz McKenzie

If you wish to write an article or poem please submit to:

Saturday, 24 March 2012

IF THE PRICE IS RIGHT - (Official Video) CHECK OUT our interview with Mystere Jones!

Fantastic brand new video from Mystere Jones... enjoy & don't leave before you check out yesterday's interview with this very talented Hip Hop artist!

Friday, 23 March 2012

Enter the Heart of Hip Hop with MYSTERE JONES

Mystere Jones: Artist producer & film maker, takes us on an exciting musical journey into the culture of American Hip-Hop sharing his knowledge, music & film experiences. We will discover a little about his projects and delve into the industries attitude towards Hip Hop; taking a brief look at Gangster Rap. Mystere Jones is a very positive person who is definitely on a mission!

Looking at your work Mystere, you’re clearly involved right in the middle of the Hip-Hop Culture. What does the culture mean to you?
It means a lot to me. I grew up in the Hip-Hop culture during the era Hip-Hop first started. It started out with 2 turntables, a DJ and a microphone. Now it has evolved into a real genre and it has become my life. I’ve lived it and learned it and it’s what I do.

How did you come to record the song ‘Crazy Love’ and were you thinking of anyone special?

No, it’s more of a general song. Some of my songs and pieces of my songs come from personal experiences. That song right there had no real personal experiences. The original song was done by Changing Faces. I heard the song and kinda fell in love with the track, so I got on the re-mix and did my version of it.

Out of interest, roughly how many songs have you written?
Hundreds. Under Noe Doe Network we have written hundreds to the thousands! I have written songs with other people, some songs that people have never heard. I have stuff that’s never left the paper; you know how it is. Between the catalogue, what’s in my head and what I have stored it’s crazy. It’s a lot of material. Noe Doe Networks has an extensive catalogue. It’s crazy but when you think about the number of years we have spent doing this it is a lot of music.

Yes that does sound crazy! Out of all your songs do you happen to have a favourite?
Right now I have a few favourites and one is called, ‘Bottom Girl.’ You can find that Song on my Debut LP "True Playa". It’s become a favourite for a lot of people who love it and have supported the song by buying it through iTunes, Amazon, etc. It’s now one of my top songs so when I perform I sing that song because they are expecting it. Another favourite of mine is, ‘Body Rockin,’ which has a universal type of vibe. I have recorded a reggae version of that song too.

It's clear that you are very much a team player and have been involved in various collaborations over the years. Can you say something briefly about these?
I’ve done a lot of stuff with my team, ‘Noe Doe Network,’ which consists of: Roc DaGuard, D-Sorce, Yung Mugsy, DJ Chainsaw, Earl Blaize, Dirty Ox and Rush 1. I write a lot of songs with these guys and have been working with them for years so we have produced a lot of music together. Outside my Noe Doe Camp I have worked with artists like Hurricane G, a real popular Hip Hop artist in the early 1990’s and Big T from the south. I have done some projects with Team Mashn, out of L.A., Kush Nation-Night Life and Still Burnin. I have also done ‘Money, Power, Respect’ with Big T on my No Identity Project. I have a song called ‘If the Price is Right,’ another called ‘Party in Da Club.’ That is on the Still Burnin project. The Body Rockin song is on the Kush Nation- Night Life album. All these songs can be heard on the No Identity Mixtape.

I have seen a recording of you performing in a group. Tell us more!
3PO is a group we formed which consists of me, D-Sorce and a young lady named Michelle that goes by the name of, ‘Thrush.’ I would say we have a ‘Black Eyed Peas’ kinda vibe. This is something way different from the music I’ve done in the past, but it’s universal so I think the masses will really take to it. We have a strong project and we have about 6 songs for the album so far. Look out for the 3P0 project coming soon

I saw a video of 3PO singing and it was really lively; what can you tell us about it?
Yes, that video is not actually the official video. Right now we’re working on the official video for the song and we have created a ‘behind the scenes’ piece for the, ‘Show Me Off’ video. We did this cuz people were talking about the group and wanted to see who we were. We did a one day shoot and yes, it’s a lively song with a lively vibe. The actual official video takes place in a club and tells the story of the song. We are looking to release that single some time between spring and summer and it will be the first single from the 3P0 project.

Could you tell us a little about the films you have been involved with?
I am in a couple of films and one of the films is called ‘The Trouble With Cali’ and it’s going to premier in the Sedona Film Festival, Arizona this month (Feb.) The film you know about is, ‘Hood Boogas’ and that came out incredibly well. We worked on it for a number of years and it’s our own independent project which is dear to our hearts. It wasn’t easy. It was a lot of work and a lot of stress; plus a lot of madness! We had faith in it so we managed to pull it off and it came out really good. Recently we had 3 screenings; we had one in San Antonio in Texas, One in New York, Manahattan, in the Tribeca Performing Arts Center and another in the Indie Screen Theatre in Williamsburgh, Brooklyn. They were all pretty successful so we are just moving forward with the movie as we have had a lot of good feedback.

Where did you get the idea for the movie from?
Roc DaGuard who is one of our partners from the network brought it to us. It was his idea, something he wanted to do. We all agreed that it would be a good way to expose our music which we had been doing for sometime. Everybody loves music but I think more people love films. People who don’t even care about hip hop love movies, so we figured if we put together an entertaining piece that revolved around the music and displayed our different personalities the world would be able to take to us as a whole lot easier. That was the main concept behind the film. If you see the film it’s a lot of comedy, comedy based but it revolves around our lives and you get to see a piece of who we are, so like reality TV it’s almost a reality movie.

In a way the concept is not unlike the popular film ‘Fame,’ which was well received over here in the UK. Do you think you will be able to bring ‘Hood Boogas’ to us as well?
Well actually that’s the stage we’re at now. After the screenings we had a lot of good feedback so hopefully we will be able to get it into selected theatres. Hopefully be able to do something like Netflicks or go straight to DVD. Whichever makes most sense. We will explore the options & see where it takes us.

If your movie came out over here it would pave the way for your music wouldn’t it.
Definitely and we are exploring and keeping our international options open. Who ever offers something we will listen because our aim is to expose it to the world, whether it’s this side of the world or somewhere else. We’re definitely open for opportunities.

In the UK we have had some insight into the hip hop culture. As this is your culture, in what ways do you think hip hop has changed over the years and how has it affected music overseas?
They say that every 20 years history repeats itself, so with music I have learned to see that. I think that music has taken a turn back to the nineties recently, especially with hip-hop. You’re starting to hear that nineties style of music again, especially in places overseas like the UK, Australia and Japan. To this day they take to that old school type of Hip Hop. That’s why the old school artists can still go overseas, perform and still receive a lot of love. That side of the world respects that sound and that music. That’s why in new music you are starting to hear the old style of production coming back into hip hop. The only difference is you got new players, new characters and younger energy. That style of music is all the same thing in a sense, it’s just a repeat of what’s already been done but they’re taking it to a higher level and the audiences are getting bigger now. People thought hip hop would never last. I guess when the Beatles came out, back in the days, people thought they’d never last either but as you see it’s here to stay and it has evolved into a huge genre, probably one of the most money making genres. It will probably never top country music but it’s definitely a profitable business.

What sort of role is gangster rap playing nowadays?
I think you’ll always have some type of gangster rap because it is a part of the culture. Right now you don’t see too much of it because it is commercialized. Even back in the day when it wasn't trying to be commercialized they banned it. They put all kinds of restrictions on it but the street still takes to it and the street is always going to gravitate towards that sound. The music will be heard whether it’s restricted or not. In the commercial world you just don’t see too much of it.

As a Hip Hop artist, what is your view of Gangster Rap?
Personally I don’t do it because I do more of a commercial style of music. I have children too so I don’t glorify that kind of thing but I listen to it and I like it. I like it all but what I listen to and what I would promote in my house to my children are two different things. I just love hip hop music provided it’s not idiotic because there are some not so good tracks out there. Some of it is garbage but there is an audience for everything. Gangster Rap is not what I prefer but it’s there. You have the drug talk and the gang talk, it’s there and it’s probably always going to be there.
The executives don’t care about the music and will sign anything they think will make money. They won’t play it in their homes but their kids are still listening to it because it’s there and they like it. It’s all about the money. If you talk about killing your mama and it sells a million copies that’s all they care about.

I see you occasionally enjoy crossing over into reggae. Is this something you might do a bit more?
Definitely. I’m Jamaican by heritage; my parents, brothers and sisters were all born in Jamaica so that’s part of my life. I grew up in that culture like I grew into the hip hop culture. I grew up listening to reggae in a Jamaican household so I am a Jamaican by default.. lol. Everybody thinks I’m an American because I don't speak with an accent unless I’m talking to my family. I have that vibe in me but because I’m a hip hop artist they don’t really see that. In the future you’re going to see a lot more of the reggae because I do love it. I don’t see myself as a reggae artist but I can do reggae music. I like to produce it and I like to mix it with what I’m doing. In my earlier records when I first started doing music I did a lot of that and that was my style. Now that I’m a little bit older I gravitate towards the commercial songs like ‘Body Rockin,’ the LL Cool J, Neo soul type of vibe. That’s what I like to do as an artist. Reggae’s in my blood so it’s something I will do more of. The people will see that in a project in the near future.

Mystere Jones, now that’s a curious name. Jones is very commonplace yet Mystere is very mysterious. Does this actually come from something real or were you being clever by putting them together?
Ah ha, (Laugh.) Well actually it comes from my real name and the fact that I am a mystery. People have to really know me to know me and that will take years. So for the world to see me and know me, I’m a mystery to them and the world will probably never figure out that mystery; but you will at least get a closer look at who I am through my music.
My music tells the stories of my life. If you really listen to what I’m saying, I only talk about what I know or how I live so the mystery is there for the world to figure out. The name comes from my name which starts with an E, so it’s Mr E. Jones which kinda has a ring to it. So now I’m Mystere Jones! I’m like a hip hop superhero and Mystere Jones is my super hero name, lol. I jump in the phone booth and I come out as ‘Mystere Jones the rapper,’ but when I step back in I come out a normal guy, a friend and father; just Mr E. Jones.

Its Braap thanks Mystere Jones for a great interview. Here is a selection of links to enable you to check out productions from Mystere Jones and the Noe Doe Network.


Youtube Channel:

Hood Boogas Youtube:

Thursday, 22 March 2012

First Ever ~IB~ Awards! Coming soon...

Its Braap~Its Life has been in existence for five months now, having launched 22nd October 2011. We would like to thank everyone who has contributed to our blog, along with all our readers! We have had a tremendous number of hits and hope that more of you will become actively involved with the different features we are running.

To mark the occasion we have decided to present our own ~IB~ Awards, which will take the form of a photograph so that the winners may use it however they choose. These awards will be given to the people who feature in, or have written our TOP 5 most popular all time blogs up to 21st March 2012.

We would just like to point out that the popular posts to the right are this months or weeks most viewed posts, not the all-time results!!

We are looking forward to making the announcements shortly so watch this space!!


Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Be Braap~Be Inspired!!! Real quotes from Real People!! #4

'Never let yesterday use up too much of today.' Will Smith

A very simple quote here from Will Smith which is basically telling us to stop dwelling on the past and keep life moving. Take what you need from yesterday in order to make the most of today and leave the baggage behind. In order to do this we have to be able to discriminate between the useful and the useless, paying attention to wisdom and knowledge.

This saying is particularly applicable to speech. It's easy spending hours going over the same old things, sometimes because we fail to move our lives forward. This can leave us in a great rut that will never be resolved, only to get deeper while we bore the pants off other people!

When you feel the weight of yesterday on your shoulders, shake it off and resolve to treat the new day as a new day! Great advice just requiring practice. So, get yourself into gear with the rising of the sun & keep the flow going until the moon is shining brightly. Have a profitable day!

Jaz McKenzie

BE BRAAP! Send us your favourite quotes or sayings with a few words... you can include a photo of yourself (optional) to: These can be your own quotes or famous sayings and we will include them in this section: 'Be Braap~ Be Inspired.' NOTE: you do not have to be a great writer, simply send YOUR quote with YOUR thoughts in 10 or more words as the aim is to inspire others!

Tuesday, 20 March 2012


A group of coach drivers, much to their amazement, have won the Euro Millions!! How wonderful can that be especially as they were facing a cut in their working hours. Now, instead of wondering how they can meet their bills these drivers and their families are able to make changes to their lifestyle and live a little. The caring attitude of the winners came through, being particularly pleased to share their winnings as a group. In a way that seemed to mean more to them than an individual win would have done, which emphasizes the fellowship amongst them.

There are syndicates all around the world who dream of winning the lottery. We play at work and interestingly the owner of the business was asked whether she wished to increase the insurance and take out lottery cover in the event of us winning! I have no idea whether she did or not as the odds of a serious win are not great, but the point about life is you just don’t know... Regarding insurance companies life is a certainty and certainly not a lottery!!

Even if you don’t have a lot of money, parting with a little each week to try and win the jackpot still gives you something to look forward to. Every week when the numbers are called you can sit on the edge of your seat in anticipation shouting and hollering at the TV until the final ball has dropped; unless you sit there silently with fists clenched of course! Sometimes you may have a little win and that in itself is enough to raise your spirits.

Life on occasion may seem a little like a lottery. We have no say over our physical appearance, birth rights and early childhood. All these facts are pre-determined. What we can do is make the best of ourselves and work towards creating our own fortune. This is never an easy process and the cost is high. We have to be committed to the task in hand pushing ahead from every angle. In many ways we may be trying to reach for the impossible but if you do not start you will never finish and if you give up along the way, you will not reap the benefit of the seeds you sowed. Sometimes we feel as if we are working hard to no effect; it may be that we just do not see the effect we are having! There are always going to be feasts and famines, so like Joseph we need to harvest the grain mentally when good things happen so that we have a focus in the famine so to speak. If you are able to look back along the road you have already trodden you will see how far you have come and in so doing appreciate that your goal is gradually becoming closer.

Question: Who really wins the lottery?

Those who contribute to life in a conscious and conscientious way. This is because even if they do not reach their goals they will have the satisfaction of knowing that they really did their best. Regardless of what people may say your best, provided it is your best, is always good enough. It may not win you the gold medal; what is does is allow you to walk away with the satisfaction that you put 100% into the race and others simply had a little more of what it takes to win at that time. The ability to bounce back and keep on pushing is fundamental to having a winning attitude. Everyone has a winning ticket with their name on. If you look closely at the watermark you will be able to read three little words: faith, self-belief and hard work! Now you have found yours, pick it up and run towards the finishing line!

Jaz McKenzie

If you would like to write a short article contact us:

Monday, 19 March 2012

The Black Eyed Peas - Hey Mama

Today we are bringing a seriously lively vibe to Its Braap~Its Life!! This video is very energetic & has the feel good factor in generous supply. the rhythm makes you want to dance... and how many of you know that Tippa Irie, known for his fast talking reggae, contributed to these award winning lyrics? We will post our previous interview with Tippa later this week just incase you missed it... in fact it's time for an update! ~IB~

Sunday, 18 March 2012

A Mother's Love~Poem for my Mother.

I wrote this poem specifically for my mother last year therefore it contains personal references, however the general theme is the same the world over. The cards in the picture were given to me by my sons today... an ever revolving circle!


A lifetime moving
Constantly journeying
Living each moment
Face to face
In this three- legged race
Treading my life-line carefully
Knowing me before I knew myself
Valuing and understanding my worth
Helping my light to shine

The greatest responsibility
Anyone can undertake
You handled well
No preparation possible
For the role of motherhood
Your judgement at stake
Times of heaven and hell
Always doing your very best
When life threw its latest test
Achieving your Masters Degree
By successfully nurturing me.

Daily placing a new dish on the table
Key ingredient always the same
Guaranteed to remain.
Patience tweezing gravel from my knee
Still allowing your child to run free
Summers of play and trips to the sea.

Excursion through life
Requiring a new role
Bystander, advisor
Together sharing joy
Experiencing pain
My mistakes reach into your soul
Forgiveness makes us whole
For the part a mother plays
Goes much deeper than best friend
Together for a lifetime
Linkage that will not end.

Changes with growth
Changes within society
Adapting to the new world
That my generation unfurled
Ways of thinking needing to extend
Each other’s point of view we see
With respect to promote harmony
Across the generational gap
Extended family keeping on track

We give thanks for the blessing
Of a mother who is always there
Lending a listening ear
A mother who will always care
Still serving from the same dish
Our wellbeing your greatest wish
For the dish served up is love
With the strength of true humility
My mother’s love
God given blessing
Always to hand, always free
Love that is appreciated
A foundation fully rated
Love, the strongest bond
You share with me.

Jaz McKenzie 2010©

If you would like your poetry featured on Its Braap~Its Life send to

PS; I love you Mum. (Mother's Day UK) Live Life~Love Life WK 13

Today is Mothering Sunday in the UK where traditionally families went to church, the children presenting their Mother with a few spring flowers during the service. The idea behind Mothering Sunday is that children show respect to their Mothers and in the UK this day is always set in the middle of lent.

We decided to focus on Motherhood by giving you a quick summary of the role & responsibilities of a mother as a semi-acronym of BRAAP, a little poetic licence here folks!! These are simply guidelines as the duties of a mother are pretty much endless!

B> Bring your child into the world and love him/her unconditionally.

R> Raise your child the best you can and help your child to acquire solid values: to believe in God (Jehova, Jah, Allah, Yahweh, Brahman, krishna) teaching them to love, respect others, be honest, helpful, trustworthy and to give freely (using discrimination!) of their time, knowledge & money.

A> Attitude: Always support your child and equip them with the skills they need to develop a good attitude and be the best they can be: patience, humility, generosity, determination, adaptability, a questioning mind (independent thinking), love of knowledge, to be responsible, appreciate discipline, develop self control, to communicate well with others.

A>Accept your child as the individual s/he is. Your child may be just brilliant with their life on completely on course, on the other hand you may be disappointed with their choices. Sometimes as parents we want to try to change our children or even encourage them to live our dreams. Most children live reasonable lives with the usual episodes of anti-social and challenging behaviour. Sadly some children get into serious difficulties. If your child goes drastically off the rails be there for them. Listen and help where possible, trying to understand. If you do this and try to remain non-judgemental you will be in a better position to help. We can only do the best we can do. Our children are their own people and there comes a point where they have to take responsibility for themselves. Whatever happens, your love for your child should always remain.

P>3 P’s actually, short and sweet to be applied at all times! PRAYER, PRAISE & POSITIVITY. These, along with love, should form the corner stones & foundation from day 1 & throughout your child’s life.

WHAT OF THE CHILD? There are people who truly believe that children do not owe their parents anything as they did not ask to be born. The reality is that most of us really love our parents and do not wish to hurt them, even children who have been treated horrifically or abandoned can feel this way. On the whole parents are often taken for granted in the same way we all take other family members and even good friends for granted, so it is good to have a time to focus on appreciation of and our love for one another. It’s mother’s day, so let’s forget the PS and place those words at the forefront. ‘I love you mum.’

Jaz McKenzie

In addition we will be posting a tribute poem for Mothers today.

If you would like to contribute to Its Braap~Its Life, contact us

Saturday, 17 March 2012


Watch out for our first ever Hip Hop interview with established artist... MYSTERE JONES...

Cumin right atcha direct from da crib in Pennsylvania
We’re gonna cop the 411 on some real street Hip Hop
Wid  #1 ‘Hood Boogas’ star Mystere Jones... unveiled
Dis man already gone far & reachin beyond his own star
So watch out, lock yourself in da yard coz his flow is umleashed
Gonna hit ya real hard... and that’s BRAAP!

Friday, 16 March 2012

~IB~ BABIES!! We are extremely pleased to introduce>>>

As many of you who follow Its Braap~Its Life are aware, we have been presenting news about ‘Heritage Of Ska,’ the new open air music festival initially planned this July & still requiring heavy sponsorship! The next show will be coming up shortly, 6.30pm-12.30am, Thurs 29th March at ‘Light Bar’ 233, Shoreditch High Street. E1 6PJ. We will continue bringing you news about HOS which will provide an opportunity for some of our singers, musicians & other talented people to gain a little exposure whilst supporting this magnificent venture.

Baby # 2 >>OLYMPUS~New Musical<<
We are thrilled to have been approached to follow a new musical, ‘OLYMPUS:’ first interview pertaining to this project with Chris Chambers, writer/director coming shortly. Olympus started life as musical theatre 20 years ago, written by Ian Rae, adapted by Ian & Chris so that it has become a contemporary musical & community showcase for this Olympic year. Chris will keep us updated as the rehearsals progress & we have been invited to interview cast members and pop along to the occasional rehearsal.
Rehearsal for Olympus

Baby # 3 >>Fairfield Halls 50th Celebrations<<
Our final ‘baby’ is equally exciting! The Fairfield Halls in Croydon reach their 50th anniversary in November and have decided to hold a year long celebration consisting of different events. The first scheduled events include a photographic exhibition of celebrities who have appeared at the Fairfield over the years; all pictures are the work of photographer Frazer Ashford. The exhibits are beautiful, in black & white demanding appreciation! We will do our best to organize an interview with Frazer for you and in the meantime will share more information about the exhibition and additional events, supplied by Laura Roberts, press officer.
So that you can check in for updates anytime, we will put all website links under the heading ~IB~ Babies to the right of the site. We hope you will enjoy this new initiative.

Elton John photographed by Frazer Ashford


We will watch expectantly as our babies grow!!
Young girl wearing a beautiful Galuchie Knits hat.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Jasmine V. Rowe - Tell Me (Audio) + info about this young, talented artist!!

Its Braap thank Robert Rowe for supplying us with quality information about his artist.
Jasmine V. Rowe is an artist that you should not over look.  Just listen to her debut single, “Tell Me,” which demands nothing but respect and honesty fellas! With a soulful voice to sit magically on a reggae/r&b influenced track, drums by Jamaica’s own Sly, from Sly and Robby, and a hook that does nothing but grab you. This song has all the spices to be the song of the summer.  So check her out and Tell Me what you think.

Jasmine, is from New Jersey. Her family knew she had musical potential when at the age of 5 she belted out ‘Not Gonna Cry’ during a family car trip surprising them as Mary J Blige songs are definitely beyond the average youngster! Jasmine has stayed with her love of  R&B, pop, soul and  reggae-fusion, now working as a solo recording artist and actress.  Previously Jasmine had sung in a couple of groups in Virginia and Hawaii, whereas she branched into theatre aged 15 when she appeared in a Broadway play, ‘Honolulu Broadway Babies,’ an exotic title if ever there was one.

Following the musical Jasmine decided to attend University however, following her first semester at Norfolk State University, she decided to record on her father’s independent label, ‘Ve3 Inc’ and attends every musical event she can manage from shows to festivals. She also spends serious time benefitting from vocal coaching, song writing & still singing in the choir.

On January 1, 2011 Jasmine and her dad jetted on an airplane to Kingston, Jamaica to share her talent with the rest of the world. Her debut song "Tell Me" arose from that Island trip. With recording in Kingston, Jamaica and Brooklyn, New York and Collaboration with Mix Engineer Delroy "Fatta" Pottinger from Anchor studio Kingston, Jamaica. It’s great joy to see this young, ambitious, awesome, versatile and powerful singer/songwriter putting it all together on her Debut Single “Tell Me”.


Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Be Braap~Be Inspired!!! Real quotes from Real People!! #3

"Don't let yesterday's disappointments cast a shadow on today's dreams"

This is one of several quotes that I came up with in 2005 when I was creating T-shirts with inspirational messages. It applied to me personally and still does today because I use it as a "self-talk" reminder. I have had self-esteem issues, fear of success (FOS,) along with self-doubt. That's it in a nutshell. Create-inspiration is what gets me out of the doldrums.


Lorna is an author & illustrator, currently working to illustrate a children's book primarily for her grandchildren. At the same time, Lorna is working extremely hard studying for her Master's Degree in Adult Education therefore recently has not been able to invest real time to her website which can be viewed at:

A big thanks to Lorna for being the first person to give us a quote!

BE BRAAP! Send us your favourite quotes or sayings with a few words... you can include a photo of yourself (optional) to: These can be your own quotes or famous sayings and we will include them in this section: 'Be Braap~ Be Inspired.' NOTE: you do not have to be a great writer, simply send YOUR quote with YOUR thoughts in 10 or more words as the aim is to inspire others!

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Tale of Two Raindrops... complexity within simplicity!!

'Tale of Two Raindrops’


If I were a rain drop
I'd fall out the sky
and be gone
in the >>blink<< of an eye!

No worry
No ‘pain
To gain’

No tear
To trickle
From my eye

No smile
To trace
Across my face

No emotion
No commotion
No devotion

Just a raindrop
Simply a raindrop
Drop then stop!

Fuck it even a raindrop can fly
So why, oh why, can't I????

Verse 2… FEELING

And if you were a raindrop
I would pray
For a gentle breeze
To blow you my way
And land you gently
On my forehead
Feeling your cold
Path progress
The bridge
Of my nose
On the turned up tip
A second or two
Then D-R-I-P

You would free-fall
Landing on my lip
And I would reach up
With my tongue
And absorb you
For the time has come
When two become one
A raindrop no more
But a living breathing life-force
In full-flow
WOW… isn’t this the best way
For a raindrop to go?

Jaz McKenzie 2008 ©

If you would like your poetry featured on 'Its Braap~Its Life' please contact

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Solar Power> my Flower! Live Life~Love Life WK 12

We hope you like or new Live Life~Love Life promotional pic!

Sitting on our kitchen window ledge we have a new toy! I first spotted the solar powered flower at my sister’s and having a highly generous nature she sent me one to generate a little cheer in my kitchen. The flower has a benevolent nature, nodding gently while the sun shines on its little solar panel and even a strong degree of indoor light creates enough energy to satisfy its little mechanism.

Not quite an in-animate object, this cheerful little toy got me thinking; very obvious thoughts, however highly significant. This little flower will nod & nod & nod as long as it is receiving energy from source. Its preferred source is the sun, being a solar flower, yet even when the sun is clouded over or it is reduced to struggling with synthetic light it is tireless in its rhythmical sway until the darkness overcomes it.

This leads to a natural parallel with our attitude to life. When the sun in our life is shining and all is well we have boundless energy and will strive towards our goals. During these times we forge ahead and make good progress with our various ventures, usually brimming with ideas and rushing to get them off the ground. When difficulties come it can be hard to maintain our morale and enthusiasm. If a great project is threatened, for instance when a deal falls through at the last moment or we are struggling to raise finance, find the right people to do the job or come across any difficulty that is proving hard to solve; these are the times we need to turn our inner light on. We all have one and it will get us through the dark days. That is the light of FAITH & DETERMINATION which shines more brightly with use. Our light may not show immediately on the outside but once we tune into it and listen quietly, following our instincts and working away steadily, very often the solutions will come to us. On many occasions the sources of help or inspiration may prove a total surprise. Sometimes people are observing us although we are totally unaware, liking what we are doing and wondering if there are any ways in which they can help. On other occasions we may have a chance meeting with someone, make a new acquaintance who has the knowledge that we are currently lacking.

Interestingly, in childcare we have a section called, ‘Parents in Partnership’ enabling us all to work together to give a child the best start in life. We need to adopt this thinking in our business & personal life. We need to work in partnership with one another so that we all benefit. This could be as simple as encouraging one another on the dark days or by doing something of a practical nature such as offering financial support or suggest solutions to help turn things around.

The final lesson we can learn from the solar power flower is that it will only work whilst its solar panel is left uncovered. Likewise, we need to be open to our inner faith, open to God, open to those around us and listen to what they are saying. Yes some people in this world simply take but there are many of us who willingly give our time, ideas and ears to others! Be optimistic and like the solar power flower keep focused, never giving up! We don’t know where life is going to take us BUT if we stop walking that road with faith & determination we will not reach our chosen destination. Fix the image of the solar powered flower in your mind & draw on its energy when you feel you need a reminder to switch back on.

Jaz McKenzie

Send us stories relating to personal challenges that you have overcome!

Saturday, 10 March 2012

HOS Launch Party +Toots & The maytals - Funcky Kingston

HOS Launch Party!!

As promised, this event turned out to be something special, ‘The Estimators,’ proving to be an excellent Ska band who certainly rose to the occasion. Having recently absorbed some brilliant jazz on the TV  I almost felt as if I was in a top Jazz club in New Orleans and that is not an exaggeration! Musically this band really excel and there was a great sense of harmony between the musicians and the vocalists.

The Estimators were fronted for the evening by Michael Arkk, founder of HOS along with Natty Bo (DJ & front man with the band Top Cats,) and Frank Pitter of Symarip Pyramids. Between the 3singers and the band the evening just flowed, the tunes taking us on a trip down memory lane while the crowd danced to favourites such as Monkey Man, Dancing Mood, Jamaican Ska and Sea Cruise to name just a few.

The entire set was extremely lively, taking a slightly calmer turn while Michael led the crowd in a rendition of ‘Happy Birthday to you’ for Steve Harris, lead singer of the Ska band ‘Free Town’ who came along to support the event.

Christine & other members of the Skarettes, along with some of the crowd were definitely dressed for the occasion & probably lost several pounds in weight with their highly energetic ska dances which were fun to watch.

In addition to the live music, we were treated to some rare gems of traditional reggae vibes from DJ Dancecrasher Sound System
The whole evening was fun and the songs just played as the night wore on. My favourite song was actually the final tune Funky Kingston & when I mentioned this to Natty Bo he said, ‘Glad you liked it but actually I was making this up as I went along!’

Jaz Mckenzie
NB: Apologies for the quality of the pic however the energy is vital!

Friday, 9 March 2012

'Not Just At Night' New poem by Jay Dizzle

‘Here is another Poem for ‘Its Braap’ that is fun/sensual... Enjoy’ Jay Dizzle

Jay Dizzle’s first poem, ‘SON OF AFRICA’
was warmly received by our Braappers and we are pleased to be sharing more of his work. ‘Not Just At Night’ is a stark contrast to Jay’s previous piece which aroused strong emotions. Previously Jay looked at the history of his ancestors and shared their determination to conquer injustice and fight back.

‘Not Just At Night’ is a beautiful written piece mixing fact with fantasy and taking us on a wind down trip ready for the weekend! Jay has the ability to engage his audience and draw you into his imagination with such ease... yet just while you’re relaxing with all your sensual awareness heightened Jay says, ‘Take time to heal yourself’ which opens your mind to encompass all sorts of things! ‘Not Just At Night’ is a very skilful piece of work & your comments would be appreciated! Thanks once again to Jay Dizzle for sharing this with us.

Do you hear that?
The soft spoken words of jazz
It’s early in the morning
Not too early for a nice bubble bath
Hop in the porcelain tub of 6 feet
Lay your body down
And enjoy yourself with a dash of heat
Pull your hair back and tie it in a knot
Relax and sink down
And forget what’s not
See there’s a candle turn to your left
The sky blue one
Labelled warm spring aqua fresh
Unwrap the candle and light the fire
Set it in the window
And dream of your desires
Take the grapes off the plate
And sample just a bit.
To your right is a bottle of champagne
The one you acquired last year
From your studies while in Spain
Pop the bottle and pour half a glass
Let it bubble to the top
Be smooth about it and not too fast.
Turn the music up and snap your hands
This is the jam you love
The one from ‘save the last dance. ‘
Adjust the bass so you feel it in your bones
Make your eyes bounce a little
Have fun ‘cause you are home alone.
Look over the picture and you will see
The hypnotic ocean
With the color of burnt sienna green.
The roll of the ocean helps you relax
Continue to sit there
And just ………relax.
Take the soap and wash yourself
Don’t do it in a hurry
Do it slow and embrace yourself.
All this can be done while you first awake
Does not have to be at night
Before day breaks.
Take time to heal yourself
Think about all
And enjoy yourself

Jay Dizzle ©

If you would like your poetry featured on our blog write to

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Be Braap~Be Inspired!!! Real quotes from Real People!! #2

“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”- Albert Einstein

This is such a great saying from a scientific mastermind that puts life into perspective! How often do we value the wrong things in life & overlook the truly meaningful aspects? We see the truth too late on many occasions, witnessed by the level of personal regret we harbour. To go through life & say, 'I have no regrets and would do nothing differently,' means that you have a narrow way of looking at things. It does not make us less of a person to regret the things that went wrong as long as we learn from them; failure to embrace change could be considered the saddest regret of all!

SUGGESTION: Use this as a good opportunity to look at the things you truly value and the things you attribute little value to then decide whether you need to address your views. All good businesses have regular 'Stock Checks' to reduce loss & increase profit. GOOD PRACTICE... and this can be done in the abstract too, on an emotional level, financial level... you name it! Take a look at the different areas in your life and decide where the real value lies. Consider colleagues, friends & family... who helps you to do you & who wants you to do them? A very simple way of looking at things to help you decide where to place your currency!

THOUGHT: Familiarity is a currency that reduces value, so take a fresh look at the familiar.

CHALLENGE: DO YOU COUNT? How much of an impact are you making on your own life? Do you make decisions for yourself or follow the crowd?
MAKE SURE THAT YOU ARE YOUR #1 INVESTMENT~ No one else will & remember when we count we always begin with the number ONE!!!

Jaz McKenzie

BE BRAAP! Send your favourite quotes or sayings with a few words... you can include a photo of yourself (optional) to: These can be your own quotes or famous sayings and we will include them in this section, 'Be Braap~ Be Inspired.' NOTE: you do not have to be a great writer, simply send YOUR quote with YOUR thoughts in 10 or more words as the aim is to inspire others!

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Need Some Peapa

This new video is a great little song from Ras Omeek who has veered away from traditional reggae to bring us a social message in the more unusual reggae pop style. Ras Omeek is from Montego Bay, Jamaica and wanted to share his concerns about Jamaica's economic system in a way that people can relate to. Interestingly this song brings to mind Simply Red's tune based on a similar theme, 'Money Too Tight to Mention.'

Ras Omeek has been singing all his life, his father being a pastor in a traditional Apostolic church; however Ras Omeek decided to find his own way and has undertaken a Rastafarian lifestyle. This did not go down well with his family who turned against him. But life is unpredictable and Ras Omeek's father became unwell, so as a mark of respect Ras Omeek cut his hair in order to return home to care for his father. I believe that is a very important lesson in the value of forgiveness and true respect. Ras Omeek felt very strongly about this aspect of his life and actually wrote a song about his situation called, 'Holy Holy.'

One of Ras Omeek's most successful songs to date is, 'Praising Rastafari' which is included on the sample CD for Reggae Vibes Magazine in France and is also available on iTunes.

Check out Ras Omeek on Facebook and Reverbnation

JOIN OUR FACEBOOK PAGE... post your music & have it reviewed... link on here!!

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

It’s March... SO WEAR (SSSSSSSSS?) YOUR DAFFODIL~ Marie Curie Cancer Care

Cancer is so often the unknown enemy which creeps up on people with little warning, catching the sufferer and their family unawares. It is such a hard illness to cope with especially due to the deterioration involved however, thankfully many people are able to benefit from the support of The Marie Curie nurses who help them come to terms with the illness and provide practical assistance & care.

We see the adverts on TV regularly as this charity goes all out to raise money in support of their work. March is a major month in the Marie Curie calendar being the period during which we are all invited to wear a daffodil, give generously & take an interest in their work.
Here is a little background information taken from the Marie Curie Cancer Care website:

A brief history of Marie Curie Cancer Care

The story begins in 1948, the same year the National Health Service was launched.
Not long before the Hampstead-based Marie Curie Hospital was transfered to the NHS, a group of committee members from the hospital decided to preserve the name of Marie Curie in the charitable medical field.

This was the beginning of the Marie Curie Memorial Foundation − a charity dedicated to alleviating suffering from cancer today − today known as Marie Curie Cancer Care.

The organisation is extremely well structured & outlines their strategies including the help that they require regarding donations & volunteers. In addition they produce regular magazines to keep us updated.

For more information follow this link:

If you run a charity of any description & would like to tell us about it contact

Monday, 5 March 2012

LIONEL RICHIE LIVE!! Review of the making of ITV's show.

We felt so privileged to be attending Lionel’s live show for ITV last night & the atmosphere was electric! Lionel clearly enjoyed the opportunity to be doing something a little different in addition to his usual shows & claimed it was the first time he had the opportunity to chat with the audience prior to recording his songs for the night... fact or not it worked & we all felt a little special!

Lionel started the proceedings by raising the roof with ‘Dancing on the ceiling,’ greeted with rapturous applause and leaving him sweating profusely and requiring the services of Claire his personal make-up artist, who was busy with sponge & brushes all night! Lionel mentioned that sweating was great for rock & roll but didn't work so well with the ballads! That said, he whisked away the little blue cloth & kept it close to hand on the piano stool. Needless to say the energy in the room was pretty much tangible with the crowd dancing, singing or swaying throughout the evening.

The biggest surprise for me was ‘Endless Love,’ with Lionel announcing that he had only sang this previously with 4 women; Diana Ross, Kelly Rowland, Shania Twain & Beverly Knight. Lionel said he wanted the best voice in the UK & he was delighted to introduce Rebecca Ferguson; 'no pressure Rebecca!' It has to be said that Rebecca looked a little over-awed, however Lionel commented on what a remarkable voice she has and what a little powerhouse she is being able to stand so still whilst projecting her voice to such an extent. Lionel’s second guest was Pixie Lott, who is pretty remarkable in her own right, whom he recorded ‘Angel’ with for his new album TUSKEGEE, now available for purchase. Tuskegee is a collection of songs journeying back to Lionel’s roots, many of which he sang last night including, ‘Say You Say Me.’

It is very hard to choose a favourite Lionel Richie song with so many classics, however hearing them sung live and experiencing Lionel’s rich voice, which is as strong today as ever, makes you realise how talented a singer/songwriter he truly is. ‘Hello’ & ‘Easy Like Sunday Morning’ were total joys to listen to and are definitely enriched by the ‘live’ performance. The crowded environment really enhanced the skills Lionel has as a performer, evident with his delivery of these meaningful songs. Lionel managed to make them feel so personal that just about every woman would want to take him home!

The new versions of Lionel’s songs encompass the ‘country music’ feel that he intended. Duets on the album include artists; Shania Twain, Kenny Rogers & Willie Nelson. Besides the country feel, Lionel’s sense of humour was at the forefront, covering the occasional necessary pause whilst relishing the novelty of the event. ‘Old School ,’ say’s Lionel when a hit from the 70’s was playing during a pause, ‘Old School I understand, not all this modern thing like Lady Gaga with the red & blue hair; (patting his hair) these days I just want hair!’

Inevitably we reached the end of the show, this amazing evening concluding with a burst of mega energy from Lionel and the audience who were singing & dancing along to ‘All Night Long.’
To listen to a great catalogue of songs that attract as many youths as they do people from Lionel’s own generation shouts that Lionel’s music is timeless and greatly appreciated. From the vibes we experienced yesterday, I would certainly recommend going to one... or more... of his up coming shows and experiencing a ‘taste of Lionel’ for yourself. Hopefully you will come away with the deep sense of exhilaration that his music inspires.

For more about this album & Lionel check his website:

Jaz McKenzie

If you wish to review shows or albums for Its Braap contact

Lionel Richie - All Night Long Live 1984 Can't Slown Down Tour

Quick review of Lionel's performance last night at the ITV studio's. TUNE IN TO HEAR THE BRAAP TONITE!

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Smiles Everyday Chase the Blues Away! Live Life~Love Life WK11


We all know this but so often are wrapped up in our own concerns and forget to make use of this God given feature that boosts our morale.
To remind yourself of the impact a smile has, try staring straight in the mirror; betting is you will see the lines on your face & sometimes our appearance can be something of a shock! We can receive this ‘shock factor’ occasionally when we catch site of our expression in a shop window. Now look back at the mirror & smile. Watch how your whole face lifts drawing attention towards your smile which instantly becomes your best feature dimming everything else.

‘Smile, you’re on candid camera, say cheeeeese.’
We do prefer to see our friends & family smiling when given a choice. There are many beautiful serious photographs which are intended to provoke specific emotions but ultimately the smile is easiest to interpret and the most comfortable to view.

My sister made a comment regarding her walk to work where she cuts through the graveyard and on her way passes an elderly man. Everyday he takes the time to smile & say good morning which has a really positive affect upon her entire day. That few seconds of acknowledgement makes her feel like a person and not just another cog in the wheel of life. Bearing this in mind, if we take a few seconds to smile at others we too could have a positive affect on people.
Of course, there is the ‘fake smile’ used by shop assistants & others who try to sell us their products or services, also used by swindlers and let’s not forget the smug and sarcastic smile. Even some of these are better than a blank stare!!

The greatest smile expands into laughter. Laughter is known to be the best medicine & is contagious, but once again it may depend on our mood. If we are in a happy mood things seem funny yet the same things fall as stones to the ground when we feel low. Whatever is going on in your life, if you choose to be miserable you will simply drive people away and have very little to smile about. On the other hand, if you try to rise above your problems, to some extent a smile creates a better emotional framework in which to review your situation. Monty Python took positive initiative to the extreme in the infamous film, ‘The Life of Brian,’ summarizing life & death in the song, ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.’... Whereas the film is highly controversial & often deemed offensive, this song does contain some real truths worth bearing in mind & from the comments below the video has helped many people to cheer up. Here is the link for those who wish to re-visit the song: (highlight, right click & follow)

The day I met Maxi Priest which is enough to make anyone smile!!

A smile can make things better
Make burdens appear a little lighter
Put the warmth back in a person’s eyes
And create a spark in the darkness

A smile is not an answer
But an enabler for solution
Visualize a landscape without smiles
Miles & miles of sorrowful faces
Heaviness ensuing, capturing the moment

The lightness of a smile is a precious gift
Given freely to every person in every nation
Real smiles for real people
As easy as 123... SMILE!

Jaz McKenzie

Your poetry & articles welcomed. Please send to

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Eddy Grant - Walking On Sunshine

This weekend we're focusing on the 'feelgood factor!' This song from Eddy Grant definitely puts you in a great mood to achieve anything... definitely a Braap tune!

The next blog in our 'Live Life~Love Life' series will take a quick look at the importance of a smile, not to be underestimated.

~~~ Have a beautiful day ~~~

Friday, 2 March 2012

Bringing you the Braap on Amateur Dramatics!! Interview with Vicky from C.O.D.A.

Vicky Watkins, Director with C.O.D.A. (Croydon Operatic & Dramatic Association)
Its Braap was interested to discover more about the world of amateur dramatics, having reviewed C.O.D.A’s performance of ‘Fame the Musical,’ last November and we would like to thank Vicky Watkins for this most enlightening interview.

Vicky has been with CODA for many years and enjoyed appearing with the company in a whole host of productions, learning the trade of singing and dancing as she went along. In the past Vicky has directed plays and ‘Fame’ was her first experience of directing a musical. Vicky loved every minute of it and described her work with C.O.D.A. 'akin to having a second job that was so exhausting yet so rewarding.’

Would you like to tell us a little about the background of C.O.D.A?
Yes, it started just after the war, in fact it’s coming up to its 50th Anniversary this year. In those days they used to do Operetta’s and Gilbert & Sullivan, so it would be an Operetta in the spring and G&S in the autumn. It was just starting to come out of that cycle when I joined back in the late 70’s as they were just starting to produce more full-blown musicals. C.O.D.A has gone from strength to strength and is one of the top 2 companies in Croydon. We are very lucky that we get to use the actual theatre (Ashcroft Theatre, Fairfield Halls) however they are beginning to price us out at the moment and in fact the other popular company, The Croydon Stagers, aren’t doing any shows there at all this year which is really sad.

Do you think it takes away the community spirit?
Absolutely, the ridiculous thing is that the box office told us that we were selling a lot better than their professional shows, so I really don’t understand their reasoning at all.

Will you be doing anymore shows at the Ashcroft?
Yes we will this year but our slot has been moved forwards 6 weeks to mid-September which will really affect our usual schedule. It will be a challenge trying to work out how to hold proper rehearsals on the tail of the holiday period.

Going forwards, if the Ashcroft becomes unavailable to you, what other venues might C.O.D.A consider?
It really isn’t easy to find large enough venues. The Charles Cryer Theatre in Carshalton is lovely but it is a little small. We rehearse at the Royal Russell 6th form college and they have built an arts block which includes a nice theatre. It is not too far from Croydon so our supporters should be able to get there fairly easily which is important. A good venue with a fantastic space would be the Trinity School which is in Croydon, however it is used exclusively by their old boys who run a theatre company called, ‘Mitre Players.’ That would have been an excellent option otherwise.

How would you describe C.O.D.A?
It’s a really vibrant company and it has a good community feel; a friendly company and we put on really good shows.

You had some auditions didn’t you last month?
Yes we did. We had some new member auditions and took on a few new people. The people we are looking for are obviously people who can take lead parts but we also want people who are happy to be part of the company, in the chorus and that sort of thing. We don’t want everybody wanting to be a star! They were very successful and we have some good new people.

You have been with C.O.D.A an extremely long time, are there many other members who have served C.O.D.A as well over the years?
Yes, in fact there is one member who has been there 9 years longer than me! There are a few other members who have also been with us for a long time.

What do you really value about the company?
What’s great about the company is that the turnover makes for strong productions. We have a good core of people and we get a number of people who come and go so it’s a good mix. Some of the young people we have for a year or two and then they go off to university, but sometimes we are fortunate to get them back as well. I like the way the company works. Quite often people will take a lead in one production and are willing to be in the chorus for the next production, so it makes the companies productions strong, which is very, very good.
Vicky acting in a C.O.D.A. production of Oklahoma

Do some of the people who have joined your company go on to have professional careers?
Yes, several of our members have dedicated themselves to careers in show business, with several appearing in Sister Act. Two of our members have become very well known, Simon Cooper who played Joseph, in, ’Joseph & the Amazing Technicoloured Dreamcoat’ and Nigel Harman who starred in East Enders and is now playing in, ‘Shrek’ in the West End musical.

How do you go about financing your productions as they are obviously big productions to finance with regard to costumes, venues etc?
Yes, they are hard to finance and it has to be self financing. A show costs around £20,000 to run for a week. Members pay a fee of £40 to join the company, then if they are in a show they pay a show fee which again is usually around £40 and this goes some way to helping with costumes and that sort of thing. The rest of it has to be done through ticket sales and a little advertising revenue. We also have associate members & patrons.

How does your marketing work?
With regards to the programme we have regular advertisers and in addition we always support a couple of charities. Last year we supported St. Christopher’s Hospice & Cancer Buddies.
Our marketing is managed by an amazing girl called Sasha, who did such a brilliant job in relation to ‘Fame,’ she ended up impressing the management at St Christopher’s Hospice and has since been employed there as, ‘Fund raiser.’

Have you ever been awarded any grants?
We have been awarded a few and we had one from Sport & the Arts. Many years ago we used to have a grant from Croydon Council, in the same way that the Ashcroft did, but as with all things that has gone out of the window now so we literally have to finance it mostly through ‘bums on seats,’ so it’s really important to sell the shows.

You have mentioned the expense of costumes, how do you go about kitting out your members?
We have an amazing woman called Sue, who is very experienced at making costumes and has an excellent knowledge of period dress. ‘Fame,’ was one of our easier musicals to dress, mainly because it is relatively contemporary. Most of the cast were able to provide their own clothing and Sue made 6 matching skirts for the girls for a dance number.
‘My Fair Lady,’ is a good example of a period show that we produced where the costumes accounted for a large percentage of the budget. This is because we had to hire them. Fortunately we have established a good relationship with the Miller Centre, which houses its own theatre area and has a wardrobe for costumes so we can arrange a good deal with them. It is still an extremely expensive business!

How many people do you have working behind the scenes?
We work that on a different basis and get people in for each production. We have sound & lighting engineers and do try to use people again because they are very loyal and provide a good service. We have been very fortunate to work with Richard Burchell who is the best stage manager around and respected by professionals in the business. He knows his job inside out, is always calm and handles every situation that is thrown at him.

Do you attend a lot of musicals yourself and if so which are your favourites?
Oh yes, ‘Les Miserables,’ has to be up there and ‘Blood Brothers.’

Vicky the compere!

What about other artistic forms?
I like most things from art to music to all kinds of dance including ballet and tap. With music I can quite happily listen to classical or pop. In fact, there is very little out there that I wouldn’t want to see.

What is the next production C.O.D.A will be bringing to us?
We will be doing the musical ‘Westside Story,’ which is a wonderful musical.

Is there any musical you would really like to direct?
I would love us to do ‘Hairspray,’ but it is not available yet being relatively recent.

How do you decide upon your productions?
You have to decide first what will appeal to both the company and to the public. Then we check to see whether it is available. We check with French’s, Music Scope & Weinberger’s and need to obtain a licence in order to produce it. With Fame we were also very excited to have the support of David De Silva, one of the original creators of Fame.

What were your favourite C.O.D.A productions?
I loved ‘Chicago,’ which we did in the 80’s and I played Velma. I also enjoy playing Miss Hannigan in Annie.

What other strings does C.O.D.A have to its bow?
Empire Magazine has a movie competition where you produce a 60 second spoof of a famous movie. Member Michael Hall was in the top 20 the last 2 years and C.O.D.A acted in his version of ‘Lady Killers.’ We also did a viral video advert for Kimberley Clark. That was very funny about man flu.

Finally, what did the public have to say about last year’s production of ‘Fame?’
The feedback from Fame was phenomenal, absolutely fantastic. We had your write up for Its Braap, an amazing review in Sardines magazine which is an amateur version of The Stage, and The Stage came along on the Friday and put a picture of the show in their ‘Out & About’ section alongside the professional shows. We had a glowing write-up in the local paper and received countless emails & audience feedback. Overall it was summed up by the comment, ’I was knocked out by the energy & enthusiasm of the cast which is not always the case with professional productions.'

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