Music, mind, body & soul in South Africa: Cape Town’s Roeshdien Jaz- musician, motivational speaker and coach.
Cape Town based singer-songwriter, Roeshdien Jaz shares his thoughts on hope, courage and faith during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Hope is the mantra that we are all trying to live by in these challenging times. Jaz [known in the industry as Mr Jaz] has been through his share of ordeals but he held onto hope – with a fierce determination. Diagnosed with colon cancer in early 2012, he went through 19 months of surgeries and chemo. He was subsequently given the great news that the cancer was no longer detectable. Once the treatment was over, Jaz was able to resume his career, as an artist and as a motivational speaker and coach. He goes for regular check-ups. Last year , he released his single, Sing to me of Hope – a song of hope. Core to his life plan is to acknowledge and support the struggle of others (financial and emotional). For example, Jaz is contributing the proceeds from the digital sales of Sing to me of Hope to The Christine Revell Children’s Home in Athlone, where he volunteered during school holidays. https://christinerevellchildrenshome.co.za/
TheCapeRobyn: We last spoke in July (2019). The interview was in a coffee shop. That seems like a dream. We were speaking about Sing to me of Hope which was released to co-incide with Youth Day/Month 2019 in South Africa. Here we are doing this interview during lockdown, via electronic communication.
Roeshdien Jaz: As I always say, every single experience ultimately serves a higher purpose.
The title alone Sing to me of hope, carries so much relevance in the midst of what humanity, the globe, is experiencing right now, as we mindfully try to navigate through these times of deep turbulence and uncertainty, whilst holding on to the eternal sustainable qualities/universal core values of hope, courage and faith. I’ve received numerous social media messages, sharing how these song/lyrics speaks to exactly what is transpiring right now: The need and distinct opportunity to for us all; to act from awareness; in the spirit of collective consciousness.
Music continues to be that one fundamental aspect of life, historically transcending time and space. It has an inherent ability to not only connect as people, regardless of colour, race, nationality and creed, respectively but to literally alter our emotional states, shift/elevate consciousness and assist our focus towards uplifting thoughts, vibrational frequencies; feelings of hope, and a call to action.
This morning I woke up with the revolutionary timeless lyrics of the one and only Robert Nesta Marley, celebrating his life and legacy: Marley 75th anniversary in 2020: “Open your eyes, and look within, are you satisfied, with the life you living.” Bob Marley.
As you know, Sing to me of hope, is deeply inspired by this precious perfectly imperfect socially conscious, revolutionary creative soul. His remarkable journey and ability to use music as a medium for social change and transformation, mobilising an affecting lives, across the globe. The digital sales proceeds will continue to go towards the Christine Revell Children’s home in Athlone. I volunteered there in the 90s, during school holidays.
Each year we will continue to acknowledge and elevate awareness of the preservation of our youth, on South African Youth Day and International Youth Day, respectively, through this song. My wish is for this to continue, even when my soul, leaves this finite body, with God’s grace and mercy, Inshallah Ameen.
TheCapeRobyn: Can you talk about the ordeal of fighting cancer – dark days- and not knowing how it would end. We are caught up in this global pandemic. We have no idea when it will end. People are starving in this country. Part of the anxiety is not knowing when and how it will end. How did you deal with your ordeal with cancer and how how have you brought that to cope with the lockdown ordeal?
Roeshdien Jaz: I share this reply, as a personal testimony to my own journey, navigating through the most challenging period of my life, and as I reflect on then and now, in terms of what humanity is experiencing, and the hope from a macro and micro/individual perspective, respectively. The first insight is the power of prayer. During my six weeks stay/lockdown without seeing the beyond the walls, of the hospital, one of my precious uncles, Faried, came to visit me, placed his hand on my head, and gracefully whispered in my ear: “Roesh, I need you to promise me that you will recite the most powerful prayer in Islam, Ayatul Qursi, every single day.” There has not been a day since my release from hospital in 2013, that I have not started and ended my day with without reciting this precious prayer, from a spiritual healing perspective.
The next powerful insight that emerged during this 19-month period: Deep, reflection, introspection and contemplation. And I continue to share this personal narrative inspired by John Kehoe, the author of Mindpower into the 21st Century – Techniques to Harness the Astounding Powers of Thought. I had the privilege of attending one of his full weekend advance mind power programmes, many, many years ago. It was an investment into not only my personal but also my professional development as an emerging certified practitioner coach (Integral Coach). In John Kehoe’s own words: ”This universal system that we occupy, and live in is so large, that in contains many, many beautiful contradictions. And it is fundamentally important, to recognise that when we are engaging in an holistic healing journey, we must engage with all four faculties (heart, mind, body and spirit). And dis-ease is a direct result of an energetic blockage, in one or combination of these four precious faculties, respectively.”
Those words resonated so deeply and have been deeply planted into my consciousness and continues to be incredibly instrumental in my healing journey, which will always be a work in progress. These words predicated off the following personal core values and beliefs: Mindfulness not Perfection/Balance not Perfection/Progress not Perfection/Act from Awareness, that evolved an emerged subsequently. Perfection does not exist, but mindfulness does. Our infinite capacity to expand consciousness and act from a place of awareness, certainly does.
All the above, is even more important right now, for all of us to recognise, as we do our level-headed best to mindfully navigate through this challenging chapter, to ensure our own sustainability, longevity and continuity. This in my personal observation, is a divinely orchestrated opportunity for our precious planet, and all whom exist within it, to pause, breath, reflect deeply on the following three fundamental questions:
1) What’s been working?
2) What’s not been working?
3) What do we need to do differently? (Once again, reiterating: Act from awareness). Our sustainability depends on it, for generations to follow.
Contrary to the proverbial narrative and with deep reverence and respect to anyone whom holds/shares this narrative, I personally do not believe that I overcame or survived anything. I believe given my level of consciousness. I have but merely been blessed with a bit more time, to fulfil what I believe to be my soul purpose/assignment, on this planet; to use every single skill, gift, talent and life experience I’ve been blessed with; to uplift, elevate, empower and inspire, every single soul, whom I have the privilege of connecting with. Be it through my creative work as a musician, my 10 year private coaching practice (Fit 4 Purpose, formerly known as Feel 4 Life), which I will be taking online, in the next couple of weeks :Virtual Coaching). Given the current dynamics re Covid-19, or through the work I do in the corporate environment as a Leadership Development Specialist/Professional Coach, respectively).
TheCapeRobyn: Your next check-up is May 28, 2020. I can imagine that it must be a very difficult to psyche yourself up for that appointment ?
Roeshdien Jaz: Yes, I’ve slowly come to accept, that each year the closer proximity to the time to my annual check-up, the more the anxiety emerges, even more so given Covid-19. At the very same token, I am acutely aware of the reality, that just as the Big C could return/affect me or anyone for that matter. Every single day we literally often drive on a two way road, trusting and hoping that the other vehicle will remain in their lane, and you in yours, and hopeful not collide. But we drive anyway, with courage, faith, hope and trust in knowing that all we can do is focus on what is within our circle of influence/control, then let go, and let God. I believe that nobody’s struggle/hardship is more or less significant than the other. It is all relative. There once again -a graceful reminder as mentioned earlier.
When engaging in a holistic healing journey, I continue to practice this mindfulness, and I continue to invite/implore myself, many others to do the same – engage with all four faculties: Heart/Mind/Body/Spirit. Act from awareness
TheCapeRobyn: How long has it been since, you were given a clean bill of health?
Roeshdien Jaz: Last year May 2019, it’s been seven years, with God’s grace re annual check-up.
TheCapeRobyn: Where have you been living in lockdown?
Roeshdien Jaz: Last year I moved back home, and the timing was perfect. I am incredibly grateful to spend this precious time with my parents. Both my siblings/sisters are married with kids, and have their own personal priorities and responsibilities. As the only son, I am grateful to be home, as my parents are retired and in their 70s. They are dealing with their own health challenges that inherently accompany this stage of their lives. There is the aging perspective plus the stress and anxiety re Covid-19. We wake up and pray together every morning – Fajr Prayer time. I would not choose to be anywhere else in the world right now. I would definitely not have gotten through that challenging chapter of my life/journey without the continued love, prayer, nurturing and support of the king and queen of my heart: “Love you Mom, Dad.”
TheCapeRobyn: Please tell us about an average day for you in lockdown?
Roeshdien Jaz: I wake up just before 6am and have breakfast and Fajr prayer with mom/dad. It is the best part of my day. I am currently working from home, so from 9am, it is catch-up on admin, emails, virtual meetings regarding my corporate commitments. Then there is light exercise, stretching, deep breathing (meditation), and time to review my personal and professional goals and execution plans for the day; my gratitude journal, and the occasional music documentaries/TED talks on YouTube; sharing some uplifting, empowering content on all my social media platforms. Then there is some time allocated for my creative dimensions, re song writing.
TheCapeRobyn: You are an incredibly positive person. This has come through your social media posts. Where does that positivism come from? Are you reading anything at the moment that has inspired you?
Roeshdien Jaz: Yes, and extremely pragmatic, predicated on two fundamental values: Mindset versus execution. I have always been extremely passionate and committed to personal/people development, vested in both academic and real-life integration/experience. In terms of people developmnent, I am a qualified Integral Coach ©
[Integral Coach © is a trademarked concept. Jaz is a registered practioner with COMENSA – the SAQA-recognised non-statutory professional body for coaching and mentoring in South Africa. It regulates “the coaching and mentoring professions in South Africa through a professional code of ethics and conduct, professional designations, ongoing continuing professional development, professional supervision and access to resources.” https://www.comensa.org.za/]
I am currently in the process of taking my 10-year-old private practice, online – virtual coaching business, titled, Fit 4 Purpose. I am really excited about this transition to online/virtual coaching
As a part of my daily self-care routine/personal development rituals, I staying abreast of the latest developments in the people/leadership development space, from both a South African and global perspective.
As the late, great Stephen Covey would say: “Sharpen the saw. We must look after the goose, that lays the golden egg.” [Covey wrote 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and other books].
Given the nature of my vocation, over the years, I have developed a very strong discerning faculty. In terms of reading/content consumption, there are a number of thinkers and their works which resonate deeply with me. Simon Sinek is one example. [His titles include The Infinite Game]. GaryVee’s Tea with Gary Vee is another. [GaryVee is Gary Vaynerchuk. He heads up a media and communications holding company]. Others who have influenced me: Ken Wilber and his thoughts on Integral Theory; Bruce Lipton, Dr Joe Dispenza, Daniel Goleman and his 1995 book, Emotional Intelligence and Stephen Covey. There are many more.
I personally believe that its really time for us to change the narrative/metrics re success, as GaryVee says: ”The youth are watching at scale. Mental health, depression and suicide rates, are at an all-time high in the digital age. Happiness, gratitude, self-awareness (EQ), wellness, compassion, humility, empathy, needs to become the new metrics for success: sustainability, from both a personal, professional and organizational perspective- especially when we get to the other side of this pandemic- with God’s grace. In the timeless words of one of my biggest inspirations as a creative, the late great, revolutionary, Tupac Amaru Shakur said: ”We gotta make a change. It’s time for us as a people to start making some changes. Let’s change the way we eat. Change the way we live and change the way we treat each other. You see, the ‘old way’ wasn’t working, so it’s on us to do what we gotta do, to survive.”
TheCapeRobyn: What you have been doing during lockdown. Details of projects?
Roeshdien Jaz: I have anew music (single) out June 2020, titled, Want what you can’t have. It is a remix from summer single that was released in early 2019.
Collaborators include EJ Von Lyrik from The Netherlands. I am excited about this collaboration, as EJ has been one my biggest inspirations. She was born in Cape Town and is currently living in the Netherlands. We’re both incredibly excited about this upbeat fusion of tropical house/edm/pop/hip hop/dance track: party with a purpose. The graphic design is by Muriel Marco. The final mixing/mastering is currently in process, then it will go to digital and radio. The digital sales proceeds of this single will going towards a cause close to both our hearts, The Ihata Shelter for abused Women and Children, In Heideveld on the Cape Flats.
There is a potential collaboration with well-known SA DJ/producer, Mark Stent. That is in the pipeline.
TheCapeRobyn: Martin Myers has been very busy with Music Exchange, lobbying for artists’ rights. Have you been involved with that?
Roeshdien Jaz: Absolutely, I joined Music Exchange (NPC) as an official brand ambassador in 2014. I had the the privilege of being mentored by the likes of Trevor Jones, Sipho Hotstix Mabuse and RJ Benjamin. This was part of MEX mentorship programme, facilitated by Martin Myers, the CEO. I subsequently have had the privilege of being an integral part of the executive team. We have driven our ‘value proposition’ across social media platforms. This has involved content curation and building our personal brand equity. We have been united in uplifting, elevating, exchanging, connecting and empowering the arts in the precious city, we call Mother [Cape Town is referred to as The Mother City]. Events include our monthly/bi-monthly workshops/master classes which lead up to the conference. We to do talks at the conference and in our communities and townships. We share best practical practices regarding surviving and thriving as independent artists; understanding, demystifying all the nuts and bolts of this thing called ‘the music business’. This year Music Exchange turns 10. I am incredibly grateful to be a part of this movement to support the next generation of emerging creatives. https://www.musicexchange.org.za/
TheCapeRobyn: Creatives have suffered terribly in the lockdown. Comments?
Roeshdien Jaz: In 1665, Cambridge University closed, and students were forced to leave the campus indefinitely. Isaac Newton returned to his childhood home, during this lockdown affected by the Bubonic Plague, in deep isolation/social distancing, at the age of 24, he conceived his law of calculus, relativity.
Every challenge in the history of humanity, inherently gave birth to ingenuity, paradigm shifts, out of the box thinking/The New Normal and new generations of innovative pioneers/entrepreneurs.
Yes, it’s hard and extremely challenging for creatives/everyone. We need to continue to collectively elevate awareness. During the lockdown, we have been lobbying a call-to-action for our local commercial radio stations to understand the impact on the music industry. Yes, they are in the fundamental business of selling advertising space. We understand the concept of ‘commercial Awareness. At the same time, they also have an inherent moral and social responsibility, to ensure the preservation and sustainability of the arts, by playing a much more South African music; especially during these times. This does not only apply to musicians, but all creatives, who rely solely on their craft, for sustainability. From an artist’s perspective, we also need to use this time to reflect, regroup, create and conceive new ingenious ways to monetise our crafts, and potentially diversify and leverage off and develop our other skills, gifts and talents.
If you take the time to study some of the most sustainable independent creatives across the globe, you will recognise a very distinct pattern, that most of them are involved in more than just one aspect, of this business. I believe with every essence of my creative spirit, that this is the beginning of new ways of thinking, being and doing not only as creatives, but for humanity. And yes, we are going to have to honour a grieving process, as we transition into new avenues of infinite possibility/opportunities. And it’s ultimately, how we use this time right now (As Isaac Newton did), that will determine how we show up on the other side of this chapter. This too shall pass…
I recently saw a video clip/article of some European cities launching drive-in concert Series – with great success- totally sold out, whilst honouring the social distancing guidelines. After each song, the cars would hoot, celebrating the artist and embracing this new experience. This is but one example, apart from live streaming in the comfort of your own home, up-close and personal shows (Facebook/YouTube/Instagram etc.), whilst monetising and creating the best value for your loyal/new supporters and followers. Patreon is another very popular avenue overseas, but relatively new to South African artists, to not only create value for your supporters, but also creating an opportunity for them to financially support your craft I encourage artists/creatives to explore this possibility.
Life will never be the same, and the same can be said for generations that came before each, rising above the relative challenges that accompanied that time and era. It’s all evolution. Or once again, as the late Stephen Covey would say…”There are no such thing as problems, only opportunities.” Or Tony Robbins…”Success leaves clues, and so does failure, for those whom pay attention.”
TheCapeRobyn: Do you plan to release an album?
Roeshdien Jaz: I am in the process of finalising my debut album, Legends Never Die: Every Mood.
It has been 10 years in the making. The album is scheduled for release in the summer 2020. It is a special tribute to all those precious creatives whom came before; to pave/play/pay the way forward for generations to follow. It incorporates my inspirations, influences. This comes through each of the diverse stories/genres, and fusions that I have incorporated in the album. These include Prophets of the City, Godessa, Moodphaze5ive, Ernestine Deane, EJ Von Lyrik, Brendan Adams, Johnny Clegg, Sipho Hotsix Mabuse, Bob Marley, Bob Dylan, Nina Simone, Arrested Development, Jason Mraz, Tupac Amaru Shakur, Lauryn Hill, Marvin Gaye, The Ratpack and Michael Franks. There will be something for every mood.
Deviating from the normal blueprint, this album is a culmination/documentation of my conscious decision to release only singles over the last decade. The album is about inviting my precious followers and supporters to be part of my raw and real, organic evolution as an artist/singer-songwriter/storyteller. I want them to experience what happens when you fall in love with the process of creating, as opposed to fixating on the destination and purely jumping into a studio for a limited period of time.
It has been a transformational process; deviating from the generic concept album. Lyrics still matter. Each song/story represents a moment captured in time and space, through my eyes, at that specific moment in time, over a decade. As Nina Simone said: “Music needs to reflect the times.”
Image credit: Roeshdien Jaz. Supplied.
✳ Roeshdien Jaz music advisory