Brian McKnight talks new album, Australian tour and the power of lovemaking!


An artist of this caliber clearly belies an introduction, for the mere fact that his contribution to the genre of RnB / Soul music genre has not only enhanced its foundations but shaped the careers of a legion of singer/songwriters that emerged from the late 90’s RnB scene. Brian McKnight was and still is a force to be reckoned with given his multi-talented arms of artistry that include guitarist, pianist, trombone, tuba, trumpet playing singer-songwriter, arranger and producer and of course custodian of a voice that has been gifted from the gods, these components and more are what have McKnight a formidable part of the musical fabric of so many for so long.

Returning to Australia this year for this first time since 2016 thanks to Delta Bravo Touring, for a series of intimate shows with his stellar band known as the Brian McKnight 4, Brian Mcknight comes prepared for a series of intimate shows in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and the Gold Coast. Set to release his 19th studio album to date this June called Bedtime Story, along with his brand new single ” When I’m Gone”, guaranteed to become another McKnight masterpiece, the journey for this 25 year strong, 16 Grammy Award nomination recipient genius from Buffalo NY, ensues as his music continues to be the gift that keeps giving, spreading messages of love, romance and ultimately heart break, Brian McKnight has and continues to be there in there in the musical wings of his fans lives the world over.

Given the opportunity to speak to the artist who gave us endearing hits such as, ” “Back at One”, ‘’One Last Cry’’, ‘’6, 8, 12’’, ‘’Anytime’’ and ‘’The Only One For Me’’to name but a few, was truly one of the most exalting experiences of my writing life thus far and one that I will hold forever with gratitude. He is the consummate artist, charming, insightful, honest and a true class act that stands to reason why he is such a pioneer in the RnB realm. Our conversation, whilst brief, was inspiring and fraught with flattery (mostly on my part lol) which provided a small portal into the life of this phenomenal artist’s mind and see just what lies behind the effortless love songs, heart-wrenching lyrics and of course music that have become the canvas to countless date nights, weddings, anniversaries and conceptions…… continue to read below on an artist that never fails to deliver just what his fans want, every single time. Ladies and Gentlemen, Brian Mcknight!

Such an honor to speak with you today Brian ….. how is life treating you? 

Oh thank you so much, the pleasure is mine, thank you for your time. Life is beautiful right now, busy but beautiful and I feel very blessed.

Thats wonderful to hear. Now you are no stranger to performing in Australia and will be returning soon for a series of concerts here. What do you love about Australia and what can we expect from your shows?

I would have to say the fans are my number 1 reason for returning. I mean you think about from an artists point of view that you have all these fans on the other side of the world that have been following your career from the very first album back in 1995, that just blows my mind to this day and it really is such an honour to come back to tour Australia as you guys have always been so good to me. In terms of the shows brace yourselves for what will be an incredible, live and intimate performance with the music you know and love from the last 27 years of my career!

You have a new album dropping in June called Bedtime Story, interesting title as with most of your previous albums, I am especially intrigued by this one. Care to share how you arrived at this title and what the album is based on? 

Well I wanted to create an album specially about lovemaking, not just the physical side of it but delve deep into the mental and emotional sides that contribute to satisfying lovemaking, cause lets face it, no one has time to waste when it comes to this topic am I right ( laughs). I wanted the songs to touch the inner most parts of the listener and take them on a journey that is as fulfilling as their lovemaking sessions with their significant others and to be a part of that special time through my music I guess. Its like Brian is there, in the speakers, encouraging you to do what it do basically ( laughs).

Well I’m here to tell you that you have been a part of my love life and my marriage for the past 14 years now Brian so lets just continue this union shall we (laughing)

Oh wonderful, I’m glad to hear it Maxine and yes I believe we have may more years ahead so lets do this (laughs)

I believe the secret to your success lies in your ability to create stories within your songs that create a realistic bridge between fantasy & reality, and leaves the listener all in their feelings. Brian McKnight is the elixir to soothe all ills basically. Your new single ” When I’m Gone” is truly sublime and is set to become another McKnight classic. What do you love about creating the music you do and how do you ensure your next album is different from your last? 

Oh wow can I use that first line to your question? That was packaged amazingly and better than I could have described my music, thank you. This single is very special to me as it is about my wife and how we just want to spend every moment together, but given our busy lives and schedules ultimately we have to endure long periods apart and even though its a difficult part of our relationship it really is the only component of our relationship that is difficult. So much of what is good in this world is in my marriage and I so truly grateful and blessed to be with my incredible wife that I just wanted to write this ode to our love even during times of separation, so she knows that no matter where I am in the world we are always together is one way or another.

Brian and wife Leilani Mendonza

What would you say motivates you as Brian McKnight the man as opposed to Brian McKnight the artist? Do you believe there is a difference at all?

No i don’t believe there is a difference at all. I mean the focus I would have as an artist to my craft would bear differently to that of me as a normal human being but the intention is still the same. I have to be the best version of myself everyday regardless of whether I am in the studio or at home and I have to operate at that level consistently or its just not me, you know what I mean. Whether it be creating in my studio or spending time with my wife I give 100% of myself all the time and have to ensure that both the personal and professional side of Brian McKnight are always take care of to the utmost degree because anything less is just not who I aspire to be.

How do you feel about the rnb canvas of late? Do you feel rnb as a genre has changed over the years since your journey began and if so how and is it an industry you are still excited to be involved in?

Well that’s just the thing you see, I have always thought of myself as being in the industry as opposed to being of the industry and therein lies the difference. You know I cant  speak for other artists obviously as I don’t know what their journey’s have been but for me Im of the opinion that if you just keep creating what you love from an authentic place nothing else matters. I appreciate the newer artists and what they bring to the table as at the end of the day there is enough to go around for everyone as long as the intention to create is true, you know what I mean and that’s all I focus on. Music has to change and evolve, its life and some people are going to like your music and others aren’t but that’s the journey, I mean heck I cant tell you how many albums Ive created that my parents are yet to like ( laughs) but it’s music and as long as artists are out there wanting to create then I’m also excited about that.

For more information on Brian Mcknight visit:

The Brian McKnight 4 will be touring Australia through Delta Bravo  from end of May.

Stay Shining 

Ms Hennessey x

Twilight at Taronga Zoo Concert Series Review – The Aloe Blacc Experience – 22 Feb 2019


Aloe Blacc

When an evening with one of the global music industry’s most respected and revered artists’ Aloe Blacc extends itself under the picturesque canopy of one of Sydney’s most picturesque and beloved landmarks, Taronga Zoo, you jump at the opportunity to attend.
Rain clouds looming above and light drizzle falling onto Taronga’s Concert Lawn did not dampen the spirits of true soul / hip hop music lovers who came out to experience a night under the stars with an incredible selection of local and international artists bound for glory.

Taronga Twilight Logo

Opening the night saw Sydney’s multi-talented artist Dobby spark the crowd with his energetic and passionate set of original tracks off his 2018 self-titled EP ‘DOBBY’, including the celebrated single Peregrine. The rapper, drummer, speaker and workshop facilitator, who proudly represents his Aboriginal and Filipino heritage, put on
an exciting performance that created the perfect lead in for the second act, Melbourne artist Mojo JuJu.

Having stormed through the live music circuit in both Melbourne and Sydney with enigmatic performances throughout 2018, Mojo Juju’s delivery was nothing short of poetry in motion. Performing live and original tracks of her third studio album ‘Native Tongue’ underneath the brooding Sydney sky provided Taronga’s audience with a portal into the raw and honest soul that this fast-rising talent possesses, capturing everyone with her stirring and heartfelt blend of spoken word and intrinsic soul music.

Mojo Ju Ju
The rain, like the artists on stage, ebbed and flowed throughout the night, building up to a crescendo by the time the headliner, L.A born hip hop artist/ singer/songwriter Aloe Blacc took to the stage. The consummate professional and the definition of artistry, Blacc walked on staged to thunderous applause from both audience and skies above, as he performed tracks off his various albums, from beloved original crossover hits such as “I Need a Dollar”, “Wake Me Up” and the feel good “Brooklyn in Summer” and ‘Make Way” to name a few. Setting the tone for an evening of soul, funk and contemporary tunes delivered with poise and passion as only Aloe Blacc delivers, his was a concert experience that will not be forgotten.

Die-hard Blacc fans danced in the pouring Sydney rain with smiles as wide as the sun, and as the evening concluded just as the skies opened, closing off an event well spent enjoying the sights and sounds of one of the world’s most iconic harbours alongside some of the music industry’s finest creatives. Well played Twilight at Taronga, well played!

Reviewed by Maxine Johns aka Ms Hennessey 

The Sounds of Afrobeat’s Festival and the Men Carving Its Destiny


SOA logo

Take four inspiring, innovative, hardworking visionaries, add a dose of sharp entrepreneurialism and a love and pride of their combined African culture and you get to be in the company of some pretty epic trailblazing promoters changing the game in Sydney.  

Introducing the Sounds of Afrobeat’s founders, Davis Osa, Nick Mbogua, Junior Aboagye and Emmanuel Adeyemi, the enigmatic crew behind one of the biggest and most celebrated festivals in Sydney are beginning to channel in a new area of success and sustainability of urban music events in our city. 

Everything this quartet of ambition and drive bring together is a guaranteed success and the proof can be seen in the unrivalled success of their bi-annual Sounds of Afrobeat’s Festival, which is a brilliant celebration of the music, fare and culture that the African community in Australia can be most proud of.

They deliver respectable, engaging and above all else the best experience to their festival –goers, in a night that always be remembered. I am so proud to be able to bring their success story to my blog and to share with my readers four men who eat, sleep and breathe Hustle…. read below their thoughts and motivations on what is fast becoming a well-oiled music and event brand and why they are changing the game so effectively in Sydney.  

SOA Crew


 Hi guys so nice to finally have a chance to have a chat with you all and the fabulous brand you have built over the last few years with SOA ….congratulations! Can you tell me how and why you decided to create the brand and how it has grown from its first festival? 

 Davis: The festival was created with the notion of uniting the African diaspora together via music & dance – a theme quite prominent in most African (and people of African descent) homes.There were too many silos within our community, in where you would have events catered for Nigerians, Ghanaians, Sierra Leoneans, South Sudanese, South Africans, Caribbeans, etc. which automatically would exclude others from wanting to attend. As there are musical synergies between us all, we felt, why not combine all the genres for one event, so that not only the diaspora can get together and enjoy all their favorite sounds, but in the process create a platform for our culture to be shared to the wider audience, outside the community.

Since our first event, our audience has grown rapidly over time, with patrons travelling from near and far to attend the bi-annual festival. We honestly didn’t envision the event to grow so quick and we are truly overwhelmed by the support of the community. We believe we’ve created an atmosphere that’s a true representation of our culture.

So how did you all meet? What’s the history behind the men of SOA?  

Davis: Our community is quite tight-knit so everyone tends to know each other. We’ve all known each other since teenagers, with most of us having solid friendships spanning well over a decade. We all come from professional backgrounds and have individually had our successes in the events business. There has being a desire for us to collaborate on a project for a while now and I guess SOA was the perfect time to make that happen! 

The Sounds of Afrobeats Festival has grown into a must attend bi annual music event in Sydney but more so, it is a grand and inspiring homage to the African diaspora and brings together the elements of music, joy and culture in one afternoon. What would you say has been the reason / reasons to the Afrobeats event success and what leaves your patrons wanting more?  

Nick: We as a collective team have a deep desire to deliver our patrons with a cultural experience, which sparks elements of nostalgia. As African-Australian’s it is incredibly important for us to not only retain our cultural identity, but to also share our rich heritage with the greater community.  Sounds of Afrobeat’s festival has managed to breakdown the cultural silo’s which can at times be intimidating to those who feel disconnected to the diaspora. Music has been the vehicle which we as a team have chosen to promote to connect with Australian society. We cannot help but feel that the Genre of Afrobeat’s has self-promoted itself within Australia and our team are simply complimenting this by delivering an African greater experience via the combination of Fashion, Food, Art and unity. It is most humbling to us to have so many of our guests returning and providing us feedback such as “I felt like I was back home” or “I wish I could bring my mother to this”. The answer simply is YOU CAN! The event although over 18’s has a strong sense of family, to the degree at which you feel it is a huge backyard party. Music has a powerful ability to connect us all, our festival is the channel. 

SOA festival shot

Would you say, collectively that the African community and its culture and music are represented enough within the Australian community as a whole or is there still work to be done in terms of the promotion of cultural events as a whole in this country?  

Nick: After working in the African community for over 10 years, what has become clear to me is that there is not necessarily a shortage of events but a shortage of community support. There is still a lot of work which needs to be done in the community with respect to promoting solidarity and a united front amongst the greater diaspora. From a personal perspective I believe that it makes no sense for our community to be working in competition with one another, with an aim to split the community into silo’s. The African community in Australia is definitely one of the smallest in reference to the greater demographic, so it is imperative that we all work together to promote the culture. With regard to the representation of African music in Australia, I believe that is clearly becoming more mainstream which can partially be attributed to American artist collaborations, such as French Montana & Drake. Afrobeat’s as a genre has definitely broken down some serious barriers over the past five years, which is reflective by the presence on nationally broadcasted radio shows. Within time African culture in Australia will be broadcasted on all mediums available to the general public, which will be further breakdown cultural silo’s in the community.  

 How would each of you best describe one another in a word and what makes you all work so well as a collective?  

Emmanuel: We all have strengths and limitations and I believe what makes us work best is we acknowledge our limitations and focus on harnessing one another’s strengths.

Nick is the go-getter who regards SOA and its element of bringing culture in a bigger scheme of thinking. 

Davis is meticulous who sees things that others don’t, and it makes such a difference.  

Junior is creative in his perspective and challenges us to think outside the box. 

 What’s next for The Sounds of Afrobeats and can we see this event go national at some stage?  

Emmanuel: What’s next? Expansion. We are in the mix of kicking off more festivals at other interstate locations. Definitely looking to bring the vibes and cultures to everyone on a national level. As we slowly roll out across multiple locations the aim will be to have an annual SOA festival in every major city in Australia.

What would you say your biggest motivator or inspiration is doing what you do? 

Junior: I Think there are so many reasons why we started and continue to develop this brand. On an individual level, knowing the gentlemen I work with, we are all focused, driven individuals who want more of out of life. The general expectation of working till retirement has never been a great concept, we all believe in the notion of controlling your own destiny and living a life of meaning and purpose, which to us simply means doing what you love but doing it well. 

On a business level, we are inspired and motivated by results, seeing our brand grow and eventually develop to our ultimate vision of a nationwide festival.  Results mean we can expand into other sectors of entertainment and business in general. 

On a social level: We want to represent our community and give back to the community.  There are few platforms available to Africans in Australia where we can dance, eat and feel our culture and see local and international live acts, We want to be an organization that provides this in Australia. We also are inspired to give back to our community, especially the youth. This is a key talking point going into 2019. 

SOA dj and mc

For more information on SOA and their upcoming events visit:


Stay Shining  

Ms Hennessey 

A Conversation with The Magnificent DJ Jazzy Jeff about the Art of Djing, Travelling the Globe and Keeping Hip Hop Honest!


How does one begin to explain the excitement and soon to follow panic of being told you are interviewing a hip-hop pioneer in two hours that you have been waiting a mere 7 years to get a chance to speak to? Well the answer is quite simply… yes, when and where and pray the conversation flows. 

Jazzy glasses

 Conversating about hip hop is an effortless task for the enigmatic DJ Jazzy Jeff aka Jeff Townes, who is as informed as he is entertaining when discussing the highs and lows of this game called Hip Hop. A game this Philadelphia native has mastered over the past three decades with deft music production, an incredible work ethic, and a humility that is belies the greatness that shrouds this DJ/producer like a super hero’s cape. Jazzy Jeff is a living legend and as he makes his way back to Australia this week for another tour, courtesy of Delta Bravo Touring, he dropped some inspirational gems about what the art of djing means to him and how the global music community is shaping the genre of hip hop into its next chapter. 

 Hi Jeff, how are you doing ….. it is so amazing to speak with you after so long! I see you have been keeping yourself busy no doubt? 

Jeff: (laughs) Yes just a little. Hey how you doing Maxine, thanks for your time and yes I am doing well. I’m always good when I’m travelling you know, I just love to travel. I am currently in Tokyo right now and oh man I Iove the energy in this city with its amazing people and how much they love music. Just amazing place to be. So yes I am well and very busy, no other way to be (laughs)! 

Jazzy Jeff djing

That’s amazing to hear and yes Tokyo is an awesome city. No doubt you are in the Japanese leg of your current world tour and making your way to Australia for your tour kicking off in Sydney on 8th November. We are so excited to see you again and doing what you do, your fans are waiting with baited breath. What is it that keeps you returning to Australia so often, much to our joy, clearly Australia holds a special place in your heart? 

Jeff: Oh, I love Australia, always have from my first visit years ago. The love you guys have for music from across the hip hop music genre is something that a DJs dreams are made of (laughs). You love every era from the 80’s to the 90’s and more and never tire of hearing classic tracks remixed in with newer beats and artists and that is the beauty of partying in Australia. You couldn’t play the era fusions you guys love here in the States, the crowds will not vibe to it or even understand why the 90’s are being mixed in with the newer generation …. it just wouldn’t work. And that is why I love djing out here, just good people who love good music and that’s all you can ask for”.  

 DJ Jazzy Jeff has been wowing the world with his infectious djing and head nodding beats since 1985 when he first started playing parties in his neighborhood wowing the crowds with his impeccable turntablism …. and the rest as they say is history. Moving forward to the creation of DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince with friend Will Smith and you have one of the most successful hip hop duos of the late eighties – early nineties covering the charts with hits and giving the genre a much-needed dose of positive and uplifting hip-hop its youth needed. Thus, inspiring the birth of Jeff’s critically acclaimed production company A Touch of Jazz, where his dreams of music magic could finally take hold. 



What are your thoughts on hip hop production today? Do you see evolution or stagnancy at times with sounds and beats? 

Jeff:  I think Hip Hop, like any genre of music is going to go through its challenging times. It has to in order to grow. For me at the moment I think the genre is in a stage of explorative beat creation with a new breed of artist that want to push the envelope a little. Hip Hop right now doesn’t sound like what you would expect it to sound like and that’s what shakes people a little, when music pushes it boundaries. The artists and producers today are doing what they are supposed to and that is to make music that tells their story or reality and connect to their fans in a relative way. If you aren’t making music that creates emotion or feelings inside a person then why produce is my question? I could’nt do what I do if I could affect someone with my music, feelings are what it’s all about. 

You know I couldn’t agree with you more, whenever I put on a Jazzy Jeff album, my two favorites being The Magnificent and The Return of the Magnificent, they always leave me in my feelings, and not in a Drake way…. 

(both laugh)  

What Im trying to say is that your music reaches out and touches people, in whatever state their feelings or headspace is in, Jazzy Jeff gonna find and make you feel something. Take the track “ The Garden ” off the Return album, oh my gosh , an ultimate favorite of mine and one that always makes me feel that connection to the line in the song where Big Daddy Kane says “ Unto God and to Hip Hop stay in circle There’s a lot to see beneath where the dirt is, Dig a little deeper and scratch the surfaceMaybe then you’ll understand your purpose”, it doesn’t get any realer than that, especially if you are in this game with some time.  

Jeff: Man, I hear you, that song was such a treat to make as well, to work with the legendary Big Daddy Kane and create a track paying homage to what we all need to tend to, our hip-hop garden. If that song made an impact, then I did my job (laughs) 

You are an inspiration to so many DJ’s and producers alike not just for your skills on the deck and beat creation but your longevity and consistency in the industry, which speaks volumes. What would you say has kept you so consistent and humble in this game called Hip Hop? 

Jeff: You know it’s funny you ask me that as I was just thinking a few days ago how lucky I have been to travel the world doing what I absolutely love for so long and still have a passion to want to learn and explore hip hop more. I am so blessed to be able to say that because I choose to play and create music on a daily basis I am able to collaborate with some amazing artists, meet some pretty cool people in my travels and provoke feelings in those who listen to my music, at the very root of it I truly love my job and therefore staying consistent is easy. However, I will say this, it is also the touring aspect that has kept me hungry and on my game. Hip Hop would not be the genre it is today without the global infusion outside of its birthplace of America, it is so much bigger than the States and that’s what producers and DJ’s need to realize when it comes to creating their hip hop sound. Don’t just look to the American sound when wanting a starting point, look in your own community and if you are lucky, travel and get the global perspective and your creativity will forever be challenged. For me, being in Tokyo one week and Australia the next is the reason why I remain so committed to my craft because it’s the people I meet and work with along the way that are my greatest inspirations. 


So your national tour of Australia kicks off in Melbourne on the 8th Nov and we are so excited to see you back on stage doing what you do. What can we expect from your show Jeff and do you have any surprises in store? 

Jeff: Yes, I am so happy to be coming back to Australia, I love you guys and your energy so much. I hope that everyone comes out to see the shows and enjoys the music and has a fun time with me at the of the day. I am bringing a hype show with some real head nodders in there and I am travelling with my man Rhymefest, so you know he’s going to make it hype as well. It’s going to be a great show and I hope to everyone come through and have a good time. 

 Whatever your reason is for being a fan of DJ Jazzy Jeff, be sure to get your tickets to his upcoming shows in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane and show your love for a DJ / producer that has shown us nothing but love through his craft and for the pure love of the game! 

Tickets available through: 


Always Hip Hop  

Ms Hennessey  

The Life of Nelson Mandela through Song


“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living” Nelson Mandela 

As an ex-pat South African who has called Australia home for over 30 years now, whenever the opportunity to indulge in my native country’s history, I am front and centre wearing my heart and soul on my sleeve.

So, when word spread that a musical regaling the story of one of South Africa’s greatest leaders was in production, I knew this would be a small moment when theatrical history would be made. Madiba the Musical is just that, theatrical history in a narrative that needs to be told. A story of a man that the world has learnt of and ultimately learnt from through his trials, convictions, perseverance and ultimately selflessness, Nelson Mandela became a great leader of a world that fought for acceptance and freedom to be who you are always. It is within this spirit the incredible cast and production of Madiba the Musical operate from, delivering a performance brimming with searing honesty and heart pounding reverence of a passage in time that changed the views of South Africa and how its global community viewed her.

Madiba 1

This production, which initially opened in Melbourne earlier in October has finally made its way to Sydney to wow the audience with its engaging, powerful and poignant portrayal of the race issue that plagued South Africa for decades. Delivered through powerful performances by some of Australia’s finest theatre and performance professionals,  alongside Africa’s brightest stars, this is a musical that is necessary viewing.

Speaking with two of the incredible leading male performers in the production, multi-platinum award winning Sydney based recording artist and performer Tim ‘ Timomatic’ Omaji and respected South African actor and thespian Perci  Moeketsi about their personal experience being cast as two powerful and significant men in the production, both are unanimous in stating that these roles and this production have had a life changing effect on their lives and themselves as African men today. Moeketsi, hailing from the  South African capital of Pretoria, portrays his role as Nelson Mandela with such depth and authenticity that Madiba himself  would burst with pride.

Perci Moeketsi

From his powerful stance, regal stride and the voice that stirred nations, Madiba lives on in Perci Moeketsi through every detailed performance. Asking Moeketsi how he prepared himself for the role of Madiba he replied, “ It is a role I have been preparing for my whole life. All my trials and successes throughout my career and personal life no doubt have led me to this role. It took more than just an audition and a phone call to say you got the role, every step I have taken has led me to this and I am so proud!”

Pride is a theme that threads its way through the entire cast and is a word that one of the other leading men in the production is only too familiar with, Tim Omaji. No stranger to the Australian Pop / RnB music world, Omaji is one of Sydney’s most beloved performers and it is no surprise to see him cast in such an intense role as Sam Onotou, a fellow prisoner who served time alongside Nelson Mandela on Robbin Island. A passionate and spirited man, Sam encapsulates glimpses of Omaji, as he entertains the process of transformation that stage work ultimately puts you through and says, “ This role has pushed me in so many ways physically and mentally that of course it is going to change me in some way. The role of Sam Onotou has made me look at things from a different perspective and has made me a deeper man in thought and action, which is a good thing”, adds Omaji. “ I hope that whatever people take away from this show is that they feel provoked to think and feel something about the production. Good or bad, feel it, don’t be indifferent as that is not what this show is about, it was created to educate and touch people and we hope it does just that.

Tim Omaji

This musical is a joy to watch, a tear-jerker and a celebration of a life that has changed the world. From the mind of its author, Jean-Pierre Hadida to its producer Neil Corker and everyone in between, Madiba the Musical is a true revelation! Congratulations to the incredibly hardworking cast to everyone involved large or small, this show is necessary and deserves to be depicted in such a respectful and honorable way, in one of Sydney’s most historical spaces, The State Theatre.

The show is in Sydney for 3 weeks before hitting the road to Canberra and then New Zealand. Tickets are available at the box office or via

Madiba 2

Stay Shining,

Maxine Johns aka Ms Hennessey


Ms Hennessey Writes A Book – How To Live For Love & Hip Hop!


This book is your opportunity to see into the real life of creatives and artists.
You will see how we connect and how important great conversations are.
Maybe you’re reading this book because your passion is Hip Hop. Maybe you’d like to take the insights from the creatives you will read about to become a local or global artist yourself. Maybe you want to take how I structure my interviews for your own blog or radio show to express your passion?
Whatever your reason, put on your favourite playlist and enjoy.

All proceeds of this book goes to the charity Opportunity International, an organisation that helps families living in extreme poverty by giving them loans to start their own enterprise.

To purchase my book in paperback head to:
To purchase my book in digital head to:

Enjoy, thank you for you support and above all, blessings
Ms Hennessey

A Conversation with The Mecca Don of Hip Hop – CL Smooth



He has gone by the monikers of Caramel King, The Mecca Don, C.L. and El Presidente just to name a few, but to those who need no formal introduction to this hip hop pioneer, he known simply as CL Smooth.

Corey Brent Penn Snr aka CL Smooth has trail blazed the hip hop emcee game since 1989, when the rapper / producer hailing from New Rochelle in NYC burst onto the East Coast hip hop scene collaborating with the likes of pioneers AZ, the late Heavy D and of course his partner in crime, DJ / Producer Pete Rock. The latter having amassed an impressive and inspiration 25 year pairing hip hop has created, CL Smooth and Pete Rock are the quintessential vanguards to the values to the foundations of real hip hop. Foundations that birthed celebrated hip hop tracks such as TROY ( When They Reminisce), Back on The Block and It’s a Love Thing to name a few on the repeated playlists of every hip hop lover, introducing us to the vocal stylings of an emcee that weaves the art of storytelling with the true poetic justice of a Pete Rock beat.

CL Smooth is a humble, intelligent, hardworking and undeniably gifted wordsmith in this hip hop game who still remains as real and true his passion today as he always has. Possessing as enviable flow that has awarded him one of the genres most respectable rap sheets, CL has also spent many years away from the very industry that birthed him during the 1995 split of him and Rock, making the pair explore different paths of their brotherhood and careers.  During his hiatus CL spent time with his family, loved ones, working of various solo music projects “American Me” released in 2006 and collaborating with the likes of DJ Jazzy Jeff on his Magnificent mixtape series and rather interestingly enough developed an interest in climate change and become a vocal opponent of Proposition 23.

Getting the opportunity to speak to a wise soul like CL Smooth I was instantly struck with his sense of ease, gratefulness of this career he has been blessed with and humble with all he has achieved and still has to experience in this current chapter of his life since reuniting with Rock and about to take his first visit and tour in Australia this March. Thanks to Delta Bravo and associates, Mecca and The Soul Brother are set to perform the hits that shaped their 25 year hip hop reign on their first tour down under, I got to chat to CL about his hip hop journey to date, what Aussie hip hop audiences can expect from a Smooth and Rock live show and how he consistency, vision and a grateful heart has ensured his legacy in this game stands the test of time!


Hey CL, how are you doing today? So excited to know that you will be performing in Australia soon…. What can we expect from your show with Pete Rock?

Hey Ms Hennessey I’m doing great thanks, very grateful and blessed for this life I have been given and happy to just spend my days enjoying my family and my music you know. Yes I am excited as well about coming to Australia as this will be my first trip down there and I have heard nothing but amazing things about your country, so Pete and I just can’t wait to come down there and vibe with the people and experience all Australia has to offer man.

As far as this show is concerned you can expect a long trip down memory lane as we will be taking way back so I hope the fans see and feel what 25 years of friendship and musical creativity can achieve…. and just to enjoy the show is really all I can ask. I am just so grateful my passion for hip hop has brought me this far and I’m loving the ride.

You have been in the game for a minute now, since 1989 representing the East Coast and collaborating with pioneers such as AZ, the late Heavy D and of course Pete Rock. How would you describe the hip hop that birthed you to the hip hop of today ……? Is the machine still the same or has the game changed?

Well nothing stays the same hopefully, you want things to evolve and broaden and mature and hopefully the genre has done just that over the years. I mean the hip hop of today is very different to when I first started given the fact that the industry itself is so over saturated and there are just so many artists that you have to cipher through and so many outlets to find the good….. you just have to dig a lot more for it now than you needed to in my generation you know what I mean. There is great music out there but now you just have to search for it, and that’s ok as there will always be artists that bring something different to the game. However back in my day when a new artist dropped, the attention and drive for that artist from the hip hop fan was a lot more concentrated due to the fact that we didn’t really have an over processed market or the technology to create beats and sounds that hip hop can today, at such a rapid pace. I’m just grateful Pete and I still have the fans, original and new, that love and want the hip hop we create, and as long as there is a demand for that real sound, we are happy to supply.


As a pair you have both created amazing, life changing hip hop such as When They Reminisce (TROY) and It’s a Love Thing to name a few. How would you best describe the connection you and Pete have?

I would best describe it as something you live your childhood with, it’s a beautiful experience being able to relive your childhood with someone you can create amazing things with musically and that’s what Pete is to me. We have put things together creatively and forged a kinship and brotherhood that really has stood the test of time, even during our time apart. Coming from the early stages of my creative career and getting to work with Pete from the very beginning has truly been a testament to our brotherhood and friendship and is something I am truly grateful for. This tour being our 25th anniversary is important to not only us and our creativity but to our fans and those that have supported everything we have done creatively for that long so we really cannot wait to just bring our vibe and good hip hop to Australia and share with the fans down there and enjoy this experience, and I get to do it with my soul brother.


Be sure to catch CL Smooth and Pete Rock as they kick off their Australian “Mecca & the Soul Brother” 25th Anniversary Tour on Weds 8th March in Melbourne, with dates in Sydney, Adelaide and Perth ending on Sat 11th March.

Limited tickets still available at:



Always Hip Hop

Ms Hennessey

James Lantry- Unleashing Hip Hop’s Inner Conscience




When you first meet James Lantry you are struck by his warm, inviting and open smile and an inner confidence that instantly hits you. Therein that confidence is the key that has enabled Lantry to become one of the most sought after Behavioural Coach and Small Business Start-up Expert coaches in the Sydney region, with most of his clients coming from the arts and entertainment fields, all seeking the wise and rational counsel of this thoroughbred hip hop at heart life strategist mentor.

Lantry, the founder force behind Conscious Creatives, an intimate workshop based on the enhancement and improvement of those in creative fields to bring out their inner best, has been successfully encouraging everyone from singers, dancers, writers and everything in between to reach their goals and maintain the momentum he teaches in his Conscious Creatives sessions. As an organically grown business for Lantry, it is something that is a labour of love for Lantry, who takes pleasure in helping people unearth their inner creative, and one he delivers with ease, humour and more importantly in laymen’s terms.

I am a huge believer in feeding your soul and mind with positive energy and working on your inner self as well as that of the outer and my first meeting with James was indeed transformative and thought-provoking, which a direct reflection of his spirit for seeking the best in others. If you don’t give yourself anything in the coming year, I would invest in a conversation with James Lantry and get the cognitive wheels on your brain something to think about, especially where your life’s dreams and missions lay. So happy to share James Lantry’s first interview with Ms Hennessey Speaks Blog and find out what makes this mind whisperer tick.


Thanks so much for your time James, I truly appreciate it. How are you going and how has 2016 being treating you thus far?

Hello Ms. Hennessey! I’m really well, thank you. 2016 has been a very rewarding and lucky year for me. With the completion of my degree in February, and the steady growth of the Artists Sessions, I’ve got a lot to be thankful for.

Congratulations on the success garnered from your inspiring career as a mentor and coach. So who is James Lantry and what is your greatest motivation behind creating and living the positive life you do every day?

I’ve been curious towards the topics of behaviour, creativity and passion for years, and I decided a while back now to get to know myself, and find my passion.    

The motivation stems from an unwavering belief in myself, along with curiosity and wonder in exploring possibilities. The undercurrent of the continued motivation is personal growth and knowing that the best is yet to come.

What do you think have been some of the greatest challenges or lessons you have faced that have helped shape who you are today and serve as tools to help that shaping your life’s calling?

The greatest challenge I’ve faced is adjusting to life after parental death. My father was a rock for me and one of the wisest men I’ve ever known. We had a fantastic relationship and shared values for growth, learning and progress. He was one of my greatest teachers. I empathise that everyone experiences the death of a loved one, and it’s tough. This also comes with the realisation that at some point, you’ve got to grow up. One may have a certain sense of value within their home, yet when you step into the marketplace, you’ve got to bring skills, knowledge, experience and a continued willingness to learn. Ultimately, staying hungry.

A further challenge is becoming aware of what a calling is. You know, it sounds so profound and out there. Yet, it starts as a small feeling inside you. There’s this knowing that you have to move in a certain direction and there’s a sense of purpose. Slowly but surely, it gets louder and clearer. If ignored, it turns into pain. So, you keep stepping and the next thing shows up.

I’ve been shaped by numerous mentors along the way. Keeping my eyes open to people who have achieved similar goals, and approaching them to discover whether they are open to sharing about how they got there, and to follow a similar path.    

One of the greatest tools I’ve received in my life is one question: Why is this happening for me and what is my lesson? I share this with everyone because it’s priceless. It keeps me awake to the fact that things are happening for me and that I am ultimately supported. The current situation doesn’t have to make sense to me, and by asking myself this question, it helps me step again and keep stepping.     

What are your thoughts on the world we live in today? Pretty broad question I know but I am intrigued by the insights that life coaches have and share with those they deal with on a day-to-day basis so I am always interested to know what a life coaches thoughts are of the world they teach and help people live in?

The reality… life can get messy. The continued reminder is to keep it simple. Having a solid personal foundation is vital. Following that get creative and experience life! I’m one for experiencing. The folks that interest me are the ones that keep stepping out of their comfort zone. It’s one way to stay invigorated and fresh. Honestly, do one thing a week that terrifies you, learn something from it and share about it with a friend.  

To be clear though, my continued focus with people is on their internal world. Everything outside, is simply a mirror of what’s happening inside.

The cool part is teaching people who with support, making changes can be simple and easy.

How do you remain consistent in your messages of positivity when the world we live in is so negative at times?

To share a few fundamentals:

  • Stay trained, challenged and invigorated in your creative interests. I recommend taking popping and hip hop classes.
  • Establish mentor relationships for each of your goals. You’ll get fed positivity and encouragement!  
  • Be open to being a mentor. Giving is living and it’s an incredibly fulfilling process.
  • At the end of each day, write down a list of who showed up in your life to support you/help you out that day. 

The music or artists you listen to that inspire you and your powerful contribution to the global community on a daily basis?

To name a few:

James Brown; Roger and Zapp; Jay-Z; George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic ; Legend Da Beatslaya; Naughty by Nature ; A Tribe Called Quest…and many more…

Where can people reach you online and / or book your mentoring

The hip hop artist you would most like to mentor / coach if you had the opportunity to?

Australian hip hop artist L-FRESH the LION

The quote you live by and why?

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never have otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidences, meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.”

~ Goethe, Johann Wolfgang Von ~

I always find myself coming back to this. Years ago I wanted to prove this to be true. Today I have a long list of evidence to back this quote. If you get that same feeling of ‘anything is possible’ after reading this quote, then your ‘why’ takes care of itself.

For more information on James Lantry and his creative workshops contact him via:


Love and light

Ms Hennessey