Sunday, 28 August 2016

Ghetto Songbird speaks music and life!

This is an interview I did some while ago with Samantha Hollins, AKA Ghetto Songbird.~ Possibly the most awesome female rocker around today! Ghetto Songbird speaks about her experiences and how they have motivated her to more forward with a vengance! Includes original and extended interview.

Hello- This is Ghetto Songbird, singer, songwriter, Rock n Roll guitarist.
I started at the age of twelve writing poetry and soon evolved into writing songs. I wanted my songs to be heard so I decided that I needed to start doing talent shows and go out and sing. I would use beats like hip hop beats and add my own words because I didn’t have my own music at the time. Eventually I started playing the guitar around 2001, just for fun. I didn’t have any thoughts of going out and playing the guitar in public, but my brother set me up with my first gig when I was just one month into playing the guitar with a local poet from Philly, Terrell Allen. Next thing I know, I got my first gig and it spiralled from there.  I was still reluctant to play my guitar in public so I added a guitarist to play shows with me around the Philadelphia area as well as the New York area and eventually I came into my own. I started playing my own songs on my guitar and singing all over the United States at famous clubs such as the CBGB’s, The Bitter End, Whiskey A Go Go. I’ve played at the Apollo Theatre, I’ve played on BT 106 and Park- a cable music show that played videos, and am the first and probably only rocker on that show. Now I’m just trying to spread my wings and take flight to different countries and playing down here in London.

As a black woman from the ghetto, what drew you to rock music? My mother’s record collection drew me to rock music. In my household there were no genres just good music. She had me listening to Prince, Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, Santana, Mandrill, P-Funk, The Bar-Kay's & If Black Sabbath came on the radio she did not turn. My mom dressed like a hippy punk rocker. From her fashion to her album collection I soaked it all up drenching myself in diversity. My mom hung with a lot of legendary bands living up the street from the Uptown Theater in Philadelphia.
I mean her story of seeing Jimi Hendrix live replayed in my head and I remembered when she was getting all glammed up to go to see Prince live for the Purple Rain tour. She definitely implanted rock-n-roll in my soul.

Who do you admire who’s made it through in the music world? Jimmy Hendrix of course, Prince, Nina Simone, B Funk...

Can you describe in greater detail why you admire Hendrix, Prince, Simone & P-Funk: I admire and respect the doors that these artist opened for me. With the things I go through today sometimes I have to tell myself shut up it's not that bad compared to what they went through. My hope is to make them proud by not emulating them, but by being true to the artist I am. Their innovative styles link, uplifting song stories and truth to who they are is what drew me to their work. My admiration is full of gratitude.

How do you view Tina Turner? Tina Turner is mentioned in one of my songs entitled "Electricladybyrd" because her strength and boldness to be as tough as the guys yet a sultry woman on and off stage is like a jewel of motivation I carry with me.

What type of material do you write? I find myself writing more sorts of social conscious music because I grew up in North Philly which was pretty much the ghetto of Philadelphia and I would look out my window and see so much drama going on. I kinda absorbed it through writing my songs and playing my guitar as a Rock N Roll singer/songwriter guitarist.

What has been the most challenging thing in your career so far? The hardest thing is a simple thing, being a woman doing rock music and being a black woman doing rock music. The genre is not truly open to us and it’s a struggle trying to get ahead and not being sabotaged, not being turned down and told that I can’t do it.

What personal qualities have you had to work on to undertake this challenging career? The personal qualities I have to work on daily is patience, endurance and tough skin. With all the rejection I get on a regular basis, even with a solid 15 years of experience with a professional résumé, sometimes I just need a break. It becomes too much with the constant sexism and racism that means people do not want to book me for what I know I'm qualified for. Honestly I use to doubt myself with all the no's I would get while other bands were moving forward and getting booked. My band would get rave reviews, standing ovations and still not get bigger gigs. After a while I saw what it was and didn't want to do music anymore. I was getting hate emails for being a woman/black woman playing an electric guitar upon the genre of rock music. I would even get my sound tampered with to make me sound horrible.

How comes you changed your mind and kept going? Just when I decided to let music go it called me back, it always calls me back. I had to re-evaluate why I love writing, singing, playing instruments and entertaining. I had to learn how to take this gift as it comes. I had to be inventive by carving my own space. Traveling has helped me find my audience. From 2005-2008 I produced a music & arts festival called ‘Wingdom Fest,’ for artists that were underdogs like myself. Now I have many creative outlets, but there is nothing like Rockin' with my Roxsploitation band (Ronin Ali on drums & Chris Nelson on double keys). My band has been a profound source of strength. They have been through so much with me and still bless me with their wings of support. I have a few mentors including Cazzé, a phenomenal Philly poet who was the first to take my under his wings and show me tough love while helping me grow as an artist. Docta Shock came into my life early on in my career giving me so much wisdom about being in the music business. He's also a wonderful photographer who taught me how to present myself during photo shoots. Rosa Lee Brooks summoned me at a time when I needed someone to push my musicianship. Jamming with her brother who I call Uncle James and so many established musicians who played with legends was like college and boot camp all in one. The fact that she wrote and recorded with Jimi Hendrix blew my mind, but she was the star before him and she has the knack that help cultivate me into an entertainer. She also helped me record my first EP "Alley Of The Earth" 2002 in Los Angeles, CA. These three mentors kept it real with me and help the layers of my skin become immune to the B.S!

How have you acquired such a positive approach to life? I was never the popular girl in school. I was the quiet and shy girl that most people couldn't understand. I didn't have many friends growing up so I got used to being alone and going within myself. That's how I learned to play piano and guitar by ear. I love tapping into that peaceful sanctuary inside myself. It allows me to be creative without the loud disruptions of competition. When in that place it's about pure self-healing through the arts.

Can you speak a little more about your motivation? When I got into my local music industry in Philadelphia once again I faced being on the outside looking in. At the time I was the only black girl with an electric guitar Rockin' out. I was too soulful for the rock scene and too rocked out for the soul scene. No matter how many open mics I played having the audience on their feet, I had to come to the realization that I was not going to be booked for the progressive gigs. It hurt at first, but it sent me back inside myself like that little girl from North Philly who didn't quite fit in. I was lucky to have met amazingly talented women who would invite me to perform at their events. I learned how to be grateful for any opportunity I was able to acquire and looking at the positive side of each situation. I don't care if I have to play in intimate cafes for the rest of my career, no one is going to stop me from doing what I love. I look forward to mentoring young girls to hold tight to their dreams no matter what.

You seem to have a love of children. Please speak more about this. Working with children along this journey has taught me how to just enjoy what I do and not take it so serious. Children are so free spirited and I got that energy back. Even if I only connect with one person sharing my message of peace, love, perseverance and light, that keeps me humble and grounded.

How do you manage to balance family and career? Being the mother of three children under the age of six has also given me the balance I need as a, ‘career driven stay at home mom.’ Before family I woke up thinking about me, my music, and shows like there was nothing else. Now when I'm not out gigging I'm able to channel that creative force into their talents to help cultivate someone else's dreams besides mine. I love mentoring children for that reason. It would drive me insane to wake up every day focused on just myself. I love exchanging artsy vibes with others. That is also the beauty of being married to my drummer/percussionist- he's a solo artist as well. Sometimes I need a break from myself, so I get lost in his music as his support system.

So music is one of the cornerstones of your family? We are all writers, musicians, singers, artist and entertainers from my youngest to us the parents. Home life keeps me inspired even when I'm not doing music business. I could never get jaded with that type of aura flowing around me, even on days when I don't have much time for myself. It's a huge sacrifice that is the ying and yang I need to feed my journey. It quiets my soul like meditation. I have to keep my Wingdom sacred so I can recharge like healing stones each time I fly back to my music business.

Finally, what’s your ultimate ambition? It used to be to be a signed artist, but now it’s just to get in my mode wherever and whenever, just delivering the message that was sent to me.

Performance an Album Review

Jaz McKenzie~ The Word Magician! Contact:

Sunday, 14 August 2016


Just come across this fantastic event next Sunday from 3-11pm location: Holloway Road. If you book over the next three days it's only £7. From Wednesday, full price= £10 and even then you're getting great value for money- Kicking myself that I'm away that weekend!

Nambucca wall of fame

Here's a direct link to the NX ZIBIT site so that you can grab your tickets. So much to do on the day- live bands and DJ's, magic table... mmmmm interesting, food and drink and yes you guessed it- networking. I think it will be fantastic so I'm looking forward to the next one!

Jaz McKenzie~ The Word Magician  Email:

To share your events on my page join Its Braap

Rave Reggae by Denve Jacobs and The Rockstone band

'Love is my gift to the world, I fill myself with love, and i send that love out into the world, How others treat me is their path, How I react is mine..., Denve Jacobs

Just recently I have met some amazing people on Facebook and am sharing Denve Jacob's uplifting song today. The reason these people are amazing is because they are talented and have a true desire to inspire and help others. Mamadou Diop whom I blogged last time is another excellent example.

Denve has a passion for photography as well as music and shares his photo's regularly with an inspirational message. Today's message, that I will discuss later on my Facebook page The Word Magician is; 'In order to become who you want to be, you must let go of who you used to be...' So true and so challenging!

Now, onto the song Rave Reggae!

First up,.. Denve has a distinctive voice and is busy representing Reggae in Ceres, Cape Town, South Africa. Reggae Rave is a true rave tune being full of energy and projecting a love for life... sing it and do what you want to do! This song creates a fabulous vibe for those times you may be feeling a little down and wanting to raise your spirits- something we're all in need of from time to time. As it says, the song is aligned with African culture and shouts JOY at you. Speaks for itself really! Must add that The Rockstone Band have done a fantastic job.

Here's to a joyful day and I hope you will join me in supporting Denve's efforts to make a difference.

Jaz McKenzie~ The Word Magician Email:

Its Braap Facebook Page    Its Braap Facebook Group

Sunday, 7 August 2016

MAMADOU - Dembe- Brill song + more info!

It's funny how people suddenly come directly into our presence. Mamadou Diop has been a friend of mine on Facebook for a very long time and I have seen and commented on his posts. Mamadou is a tremendously talented musician who has inspired many, many people through sharing not just music but aspects of African culture, especially drumming. Mamadou is fluent in English however this song is in his native tongue and although I am unable to understand the lyrics I can feel the power exuding from such an exciting delivery.

Mamadou has won multiple awards and recently won a humanitarian award in Boston. He is clearly a brilliant man and a clear thinker- Mamadou posts great insights into life on his Facebook Page, some of which I will share on The Word Magician..  

The band has just been touring in Bethlehem and is now up for the Musikfest 2016- I am excited about the different facets of Mamadou's career so we will be finding out far more about this dynamic yet humble person- I really want to know more about his story and inner motivation!

'MAMADOU is not just a name, anymore. It become a concept of peace, love, positivity, harmony and team work.We didn't change,we just woke up.We needed something to improve our shields.Negativity is a terrible disease. They are very hard to get rid of and can destroy someone's Happiness who listen to them,they are always behind talking with negative thinking and destroying happiness. Every times you tempt to fight fire with fire,remember that the fire fighter usually uses water against fire .More and more we are waking-up now and it is making a great and big difference! Just let the band share its light with others through their music and focus in love and peace....'

Jaz McKenzie~ The Word Magician Email:

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

UDE artist Norris B appears at the Hootananny! + Interview!

Live at the Acton Carnival
Norris B is an interesting artist and very likeable individual. He loves his Lover's Rock and Roots Reggae and is thrilled to be performing this Thursday- 4th August at Hootananny, Brixton..

Norris appeared recently at the Acton Carnival with team Urban Delight Entertainment and went down a storm! I interviewed Norris prior to his performance on the day so you can find out a little more about him!

Norris B Interview

Introduction: To the world- my name is Norris B and right now I’m in Acton Carnival, London alongside Jaz McKenzie representing for Urban Delight. I want to big up the crew; Macky McPherson, Computer Paul and all artists, Urban Delight, One Love. Today is the first day I’ve been to Acton Carnival- I’ve been to a lot of carnivals like Bristol carnival. Today I like the atmosphere and I’m here to promote myself, meet new people and enjoy myself. I’m going to perform some of my older stuff and some of my new stuff from the album coming soon.

How did you get into music? Well, I’ve been listening to like Luciano, Admiral Tibet, General Levy, Junior Reid and many more. I grew up in the same community where all those guys used to do their music so I grew up loving the music and knowing the music from watching those artists. In 1995 I wrote my first song called, ‘Earth To Run Red.’ I even see that song manifest now with the war in Iraq and all of that before- from 1995 I sing Earth To Run Red. In 2005 a couple of days when I came to England, I record my first track with USB Records called, ‘Jah Jah Love’ - and you can check that out on YouTube, Facebook- any one of the sites. I start to study now, music the right way, to be an artist and to perform to show the world what I have to offer with the music. So after the first song in 2005, I start to be a recording artist, recording in the studio; getting to know how to sing, how to do it, how to record and I just carry on from that. I’m here in Acton today, same way to carry it on, the music.

Are you an easy person to advise- do you take criticism well?  Yes, I love criticism because it make me stronger. If I work on a show and somebody say you could do that better then yes, that’s what I want to hear. Don’t be biased and don’t cover it up now, because that’s the way I’m going to learn.

What’s your key motivation in life as a whole? My key motivator is my family (Big laughs.) My family, they come first then my music after, then my friends and then my business- but my family and my music at the moment- Laugh!

Big thanks to Norris B and if you can make it along to the Hootananny, Brixton this Thursday, Team Urban Delight will see you there!

Jaz McKenzie~ The Word Magician Email:

Monday, 1 August 2016

NEW~NEW~NEW!!! SOLSOUL REGGAE-ROBICS starting Wednesday. Have fun & Get Fit!

Fada Urkle~ UK Dancehall King!
Fada Urkle will be bringing his expertise to Clapham with a new project, 'Reggae-Robics,' to help you have fun and get fit. Urkle's aim is to bring dancehall into your grasp and whilst teaching all the necessary moves you will be given full exposure to this particular brand of culture.

You will start at the very beginning and learn moves such as, 'Butterfly, Tatti, Hottie Hottie Boogle,' progressing on to the Boogle dance itself. You will even have the opportunity to learn the Urkle Dance from the Dancehall King. Of course, Dancehall has continued to progress rapidly and there are many more tricks of the trade you will encounter provided you attend regularly.

Ding Dong doing the dance!
Fada Urkle grew up within the Dancehall Culture and enjoyed the feel of  both the dance and the music. Gradually it became evident that he had a talent for dance and after arriving in the UK late 2002, he loved spending his weekends dancing at Caesars Streatham, acquiring a job as resident dancer. Fada Urkle became very wrapped up with dance and it took over a large part of his existence. Eventually Urkle began entering competitions around the UK and gained the title Dancehall King in 2005.

Having had a career break, Fada Urkle is all set to share his passion for dance with anyone who would love to be able to dance. This is partly because, having stepped back, there has been a lack of new style dances entering the Dancehall arena. Fada Urkle said,

'It's a shame that everyone's doing the same style over and over and I feel that it's no longer Dancehall, it's more Hip-Hop. I feel that the body's not flowing anymore. The tradition is now lost and should be deeply rooted so that everyone can distinguish between Bashment, Reggae and other dance styles. The Bashment style is rooted in Africa and is losing its identification in the cross-over culture. I am bringing the dance back to source, our ancestral heritage.'

Interestingly, last week at the Jamaican Sun Fset, Ding Dong spoke about  his intention to revive Dancehall Dance too.

Fada Urkle's classes can be accessed by everyone from beginner to advanced as there will always be new dances to learn- and here, hot off the press we have the, 'Happy Days Dance'! 

How can I access Fada Urkle's Classes?

Age 18+
Dance Teacher: Ras Yechiyah aka Fada Urkel

Location: Fitness First Clapham Junction | London Gym  | Clapham Junction Station | 276 — 288 Lavender Hill, London SW11 1LJ

Each and every:
Weds 20:15 — 21:15

Fee is £7 for non members of the gym, and £3 for members of the gym.
Please bring your own towel or pay £1for a towel at the gym.
Lockers are available to use, a temporary pass will be given if needed.
If you have a Fitness First multi membership or if you are a member of this location you can use the gym. Otherwise you are not allowed, go straight to dance studio.


Jaz McKenzie~ The Word Magician  Email: