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:   https://www.itsdeltabravo.com.au/jazzy-jeff-november-2018/ 


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 http://www.ticketmaster.com.au/Madiba-the-Musical-tickets/artist/2467391.

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: https://www.amazon.com/How-Live-Love-Hip-Hop/dp/1925653099
To purchase my book in digital head to: https://read.amazon.com.au/kp/embed?asin=B074Z3YFRV&preview=newtab&linkCode=kpe&ref_=cm_sw_r_kb_dp_DJceAbPERG485

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: www.itdeltabravo.com



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: www.consciouscreatives.com.au


Love and light

Ms Hennessey

Sydney Visual Artist Sophieaye Painting Hip Hop with Purpose

Sophie pic 1

There’s something exciting about experiencing hip hop through a visual artists eyes, seeing their interpretation through their brush stroke or their image of hip hop in a piece of handmade artwork. One such local visual artist that is taking the hip hop art world by storm is the super talented Sophie Al-Bazouni aka Sophieaye,representing South Western Sydney and capturing the art of hip hop through her incredible painted portraits of some of the genres greatest.

As a deep seeded fan of hip hop and its culture, Sophieaye was always drawn to the music and its message from a young age, as a fan of the legendary Tupac and Notorious BIG. Starting out with a passion for drawing characters and hip hop artists in particular, Sophie eventually started dabbling in painting and her passion for the music and culture spilt over into amazing pieces that captured the essence of the artists who inspired her daily life. Taking part in this years celebrated 4 Elements Hip Hop festival in Bankstown in March, Sophieaye’s works hung pride of place in the gallery foyer of the Bankstown Arts Centre leading into the festival and garnered praise and attention from festival goers and council members alike. She has since gone on to ignite her local hip hop community with her impressive works and building a name for herself and her beautiful portraits of influential hip hop leaders such as Tupac, Notorious BIG, Lauryn Hill and the like.

In her first interview ever ( as she excitedly exclaims), this Bachelor of Fine Arts student shares what motivates and drives her passion for painting hip hop portraits and how she hopes her artwork is received by those who are drawn to it. Very excited for this truly talented, humble and inspiring young artist putting her passion to higher purpose.

Thanks so much for your time Sophieaye, I truly appreciate it. How has life been treating you thus far?

Thank you for the opportunity! Life has been good, I can’t complain. Busy as always, I’ve got a lot coming up!

Biggie Blue

Your artwork is something that is truly unique and symbolic of the art and culture of Hip Hop. How would best describe your artwork, what it is you create and what you enjoy most about the process of creating these hip hop inspired pieces?

When people ask what I do, I always say that I paint Hip Hop portraits. I’ve explored other subjects but that’s mainly what my practice has consisted of. I couldn’t tell you the amount of times I’ve painted 2Pac and Biggie. My English teacher once told me to write about what I know, so I took that advice and applied it to my art. Music is second to art for me, and it’s a lot easier to paint something which you’re passionate about.

How does inspiration come to you and how does the world itself play a part in your creative process?

It usually comes from the songs themselves, especially the lyrics and the flow of a song. Whenever I listen to a song I paint it in my mind. The way certain lyricists can rap, I want to be able to paint. I love the atmosphere that’s created with Hip Hop, music is the first thing I pay attention to when I walk into a place and if it’s anything I like don’t even attempt to have a conversation with me (my friends can vouch for this).

Sophie face

What is it about being an artist appeals to you so and what or who encouraged you to take the first step in your artistry?

I’ve been into art for as long as I can remember, but I’ve come a long way from drawing anime characters! I could never see myself in an office job, and for a while I thought that I couldn’t make it as an artist. It’s only until recently that I realised I could, and I’ve started taking steps towards making it my career. It’s very rewarding to give something back to a culture I appreciate so much. I’ve been blessed, and there is no way I’m going to let it waste away as a hobby. I’m inspired by the rappers I paint, my high school art teacher and my mum and dad, who has never questioned me when it comes to the decisions I make. The support and love I get from my family and friends can last a lifetime. I want to immortalise the influencers and cement my name in Hip Hop culture.

When you are in your creative zone what keeps you motivated and do you have any particular rituals or music that inspires your artistic flow? What are your favourite musical artists / songs and why?

I always have something playing when I’m painting whether it’s music or something on the TV. Lately I’ve just put Fresh Prince on, or I’m listening to the latest album drop (currently SchoolBoy Q’s Blank Face LP). Sometimes my friends keep me company with good conversation and argheli but I’ve found that to be a bit distracting! My favourite rapper is Biggie because I love his flow, voice, lyrics, everything about him. I have a large list of favourite artists and songs so this could take a while but my top five albums are:

  1. Illmatic – Nas
  2. GKMC – Kendrick Lamar
  3. Ready to Die – Biggie
  4. Miseducation of Lauryn Hill – Lauryn Hill
  5. Friday Night Lights – J.Cole

Sophie kanye

Where are your collections currently featured at the moment? (Art Galleries, Museums, Public Spaces) and what is the general public feedback on your works?

I have my largest work to date hanging at BMCP, a shisha cafe in Parramatta. I’m a regular there and it’s always the first place I recommend to people! Right now I’m working on my first exhibition so I’ll have some works hanging very, very soon. I’ve always had the best reception to my work, it motivates me to keep doing what I do. Usually it starts with “Did you do that?!” followed by “Can you paint me?” In all seriousness though it’s very humbling and really warms the heart.

What do you hope is the feeling that people get when they look at your incredible pieces?

I just want to take them back to a place where they listened to a certain song and make them admire their favourite artist even more than they probably already do. I’m just painting what I love and I want viewers to feel that love when they see my work.


Your motto in life?

Love Yourz. “What’s money without happiness? Or hard times without the people you love?”

Sophie erykah badu

For more information on Sophieaye and her artwork visit her on:


Always Hip Hop

Ms Hennessey

Basking in the Exalted Glory of the Soweto Gospel Choir

Soweto Gospel Pic 1

“Dazzling and unified…..Soweto Gospel Choir was as much to look at as to listen to. The human spirit – this you couldn’t miss” The Los Angeles Times, 2012

“Boasting two Grammy Awards, an Emmy Award, SA Music Awards, and having performed at the Oscars all in just 10 years, easily makes this the world’s best choir” City Press, South Africa May 2013

Just two of the endless reviews that this phenomenal internationally renowned choir have and continue to receive no matter the continents their exalted voices travel too. And they are set to return to Australia in late June for a nationwide tour that will again inspire, uplift and engage audiences of all ages, colours and creeds, as the unifying essence of music is supposed to do.

Hailing from the township of Soweto in Johannesburg South Africa, The Soweto Gospel Choir have been in the business of soul whispering and healing through music since the choir was first founded in 2002 by choir leaders David Mulovhedzi and Beverly Bryer. Amassing a more than 30-member ensemble, the choir blends elements of African gospel, Negro spirituals, reggae and American popular music into an electrifying sight and sound visual experience that has and continues to capture the world over. From the powerful and majestic voices to the colourful outfits and uplifting ambience, The Soweto Gospel Choir is food for the mind and soul. Over the past 16 years in the international arena, the choir has performed with the likes of Robert Plant, Bono, Akon, Keri Hilson, Peter Gabriel, Black-Eyed Peas, Shakira, Angelique Kidjo and John Legend.to name a few and have performed for the late South African President Mandela, former US President Bill Clinton, Oprah, Quincy Jones, Archbishop Tutu, Prime Minister David Cameron, Prince Harry, The Lord Mayor of London and many more.

With two albums ‘ Blessed’ and ‘ African Spirit’ that have both received The Grammy Award for Best Traditional World Music Album in 2007 and 2008, the choir also collaborated with artist Peter Gabriel on the song from the Disney movie WALL-E called ‘Down to Earth’, which was also nominated for Best Song in 2009. From State performances for global leaders to lending their vocals to rock concerts and everything in between, the Soweto Gospel Choir are undoubtedly the most recognised and respected international choir in the world and it is a position they do not take lightly.

Catching up with choreographer, choir master, tenor, dancer and founding member Shimmy Jiyane about the upcoming Australian tour called “Faith”, he took some time out his busy schedule to shed some light on the choir’s inspiring journey thus far and what motivates the members to share their majestic voices so effortlessly with the world. I am so excited to share this interview and a small window into the musical world of a sound so rich and transcendent of my childhood growing up in my hometown of Johannesburg, the colours, the rhythm and the pulse of a country that has birthed a choir that continues to mesmerize the world over.

Hello Shimmy and thanks for your time. How has life been treating you?

Life has been good just working hard with the choir on our new album and show.
Soweto Gospel Pic 2

You hail from my native homeland of South Africa and for that I am most proud. South African music, be it gospel or beats has been getting considerable love from the global market of late and serving as inspiration for many other countries musical communities and has done so for years. The Gospel Choir is world-renowned and synonymous for its depth and beauty of sound. How would you best describe the power of this gospel and the message behind it music?

Soweto gospel choir’s sound comes from our proud musical traditions, taught to us from an early age in our homes, schools and churches. We are known for our beautiful African harmonies that are unique to the choir and to African music in general. We truly love singing and enjoy passing this on to our audiences, so the beauty of this love translates into our music and our message is one of upliftment and joy. Our audiences are affected by the sincerity of our belief in God and in our genuine energy and love for life. We don’t need to preach our message, you just need to listen to our voices that come from the soul.

Who are the Soweto Gospel Choir, how many singers does it consist of and what keeps you all so committed to this union?

SGC actually comprises 42 members in total, 21 of who are on this tour. The choir is our family and we’ve been together for 14 years, so the love of our musical family and of our wonderful musical journey, keeps us committed to this union.

We are so excited to know that you will be visiting Australia for a tour soon. What can we expect from your show and what are you currently working on musically that you can share with us over here?

We are so excited to be coming to Australia and bringing our new show called Faith with many beautiful, diverse voices from South Africa as well as dancers and drummers. We have some new costumes and a variety of percussive instruments unique to South Africa. There are some fun and energetic routines as well as some gentle, soulful numbers, and our repertoire includes traditional and gospel songs representative of our different cultures and faith as well as some classic international favourites.

How would you say South African music is received by the global audience? What makes its sound so special and unique?

Soweto gospel choir comes from the background, where even the shades of a tree, not a brick and mortar building, can house a church service. The harmonies, the energy and the intensity of South African music is what makes it so exciting for international audiences and keep in mind, that every song has its own African movements, so that adds a uniqueness that is greatly appreciated.

Where can we find you online?


What would you say is the greatest motivation for the choir in doing what you all do?

We love to sing!

 For more information on The Soweto Gospel Choir visit: www.sowetogospelchoir.com


Catch the Soweto Gospel Choir on their Australian Tour:




Hip Hop and Beyond

Ms Hennessey