Humans

Roeshdien Jaz – Learning & Development Specialist and Coach / Singer and Songwriter / Inspirational Speaker

Hello there Roeshdien before we chat music tell us about yourself?

Firstly, thank you so much for the opportunity to share. No man/woman is an island. As I always, say at the beginning of all of my live shows…”In the grand cosmic scheme of the universe, I’m really just a storyteller. Vocationally, I am a professional practitioner coach, a learning and development specialist, a vocalist-songwriter-poet-emcee and an inspirational speaker. I am extremely passionate about people and personal development. I exist to see individuals live up to their fullest potential. I use music as a medium for social change and transformation.

What was the first thing you thought about when you woke up this morning?

How excited and grateful I am for the opportunity to share and hopefully add value to the lives of others in the process. In the words of one of my biggest inspirations, recently inducted into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame, the late revolutionary Lesane Parish Crooks aka Tupac Amaru Shakur. “I’m not saying I’m gonna change the world, but I guarantee that I will spark a brain that will…”

What is one thing you feel people should do every day?

Give thanks for being blessed with another day, and another opportunity to fulfil whatever you believe to be your soul purpose, your calling. Tony Robbins said” If we are to get beyond scarcity, then we need to start beyond scarcity. That means, taking a moment each day to value and appreciate everything and everyone, that we are blessed to have in our lives right now…”

When did you know that music was where you wanted to be?

I’ve always been a bit of a ‘closet musician’ through high school. As you know, as human beings, our own personal ‘insecurities’ always get in the way by limiting our beliefs/assumptions, we feel that we have to be perfect to even remotely consider pursuing our passion, for me, it was stepping onto a stage and performing live.

From a young age, I became acutely aware of the fact that, that we live in a world filled with so much drama, politics and contradictions. Music has always been that one aspect of humanity that still continues to unite and connect us as people, regardless of race, nationality and creed.

In 2003 a close friend and neighbor Andre Solomon, brought me a newspaper clipping, it was to apply for a scholarship to pursue music studies at a local community music school called ‘Prompt’ (Professional Music Performance and Technology). Prior to that, I was involved in theatre productions throughout primary, and high school because I loved being on stage and acting. I joined the Creative School of Speech and Drama, directed by Nazley George (SA Actor) while in High School in 1994. We went on to perform a theatre production called ‘Caesar Revisited’ at the Grahams Town Festival. After high school, I wanted to study drama, however, my folks believed it to be a very ‘unstable’ industry. So, my second option, which today is another one of my passions was to study marketing and business which involved one of my favourite subjects ‘consumer and buyer behaviour’, which I have integrated into people development and professional coaching. It later manifested itself through how I ‘show up’ in my music on a socially conscious and commercial appeal level. The ultimate fusion of both these passions for me is arts and business, which is fundamentally what has created sustainability in both of my professional vocations in the field of people development and music.

You write your own lyrics…

Yes, I do. I wrote my very first song 13 years ago in music school called ‘Who are you’. At the beginning of my first year in orientation week, we were told to go home write a song. All they gave us was the fundamental framework being a verse/chorus/bridge/melody. I got 96% for this assignment, and was told that nothing needed to be changed which overwhelmed me, but confirmed for me that I was on the right path. I was later approached by a band in their second year called ‘Supadan’. They had heard about my prior studies in business and marketing and wanted me to manage them.

This chapter unbeknown to me would be the defining chapter of my musical journey, leading me to fall in love with both the business and the art side of the industry.

The band style was a fusion of urban, funk and soul fusing conscious hip hop with Jazz and other genres. I loved this band and their concept so much that I subconsciously wished that I was actually a part of the band, as they ultimately added to the invaluable process of helping me discover my own voice, both literally and figuratively speaking.

They went on to release an EP and music video, at the then known ‘Independent Armchair Theatre’ in Observatory, Cape Town. The band subsequently broke up due to internal creative differences and decided to pursue solo projects. They were an 8-piece band, so you can imagine the dynamics of managing a band of this size. None the less it was an amazing learning opportunity that would later serve my own development as an independent musician.

‘Feel for life’, was originally one of Supadan’s unreleased tracks. It saddened me that such precious music would never be released since the band had parted ways. I later approached the band about releasing it as my first radio single, which was given the green light after a licensing agreement. It became my biggest charting single on radio, receiving airplay both locally and abroad (UK and Thailand). I am humbled and grateful to have been given the permission and opportunity to be the ‘vessel’ to continue what they started.

Though I have written and co-written songs, I have always been fascinated by the almost spiritual power of collaboration. In fact, to this very day, I have a deep affinity to recording and performing songs that have been written for me. Some of the most prolific songs our all time were written by other artists. A classic example would be Frank Sinatra’s biggest song ‘My Way’ which was written by Paul Anka.

My most popular single released in 2013, which I had started working on while in hospital is called ‘Inside n Out’ which was written by one of my mentors, my producer and dear friend, Clive Ridgway. He is the author of ‘Crack the Songwriting Code’ and the founder and director of the Cape Town School of Songwriting, both of which I highly recommend. He is one of SA’s legendary songwriters, having written for the likes of Jonathan Butler, Dr Victor and the Rasta Rebels, Judith Sephuma, Black Byrd, Kurt Darren, Selim Kagee (to name a few). We also co-wrote another one of my singles ‘Love is in the house’ (www.songwriters.co.za).

I am so very grateful for the opportunity to work with him.

In 2010, you released your first song Feel for Life…

Yes, really blessed, it spent 13 weeks on the SA Top 10 charts on Heart FM, 4 weeks at number one, 2 weeks at number two, and made the International Top 30. Airplay on other commercial stations re KFM, Goodhope FM etc. The song also received some airplay in both UK and Thailand, respectively.

In 2012 you were diagnosed with Cancer how did the 19-month journey of recovery change you as a person?

It made me realize just how precious life is, and that we’re all here for a reason, a purpose. And a deep recognition that regardless of who you are, whether you’re the CEO of a multi-national corporation or the hobo at the Robots. None of us are coated in teflon.

Although I still believe it’s absolutely fundamentally important to ‘set goals’ and intentions, it’s equally as important to appreciate and value what’s right in front of you, right now. And ask ourselves, what I can do now, to make a difference in the lives of the people around me. How do you/I want to be remembered? What legacy do we want to leave behind for the generations to follow? “The aim is not to live forever, but to create something that will – Tupac Amaru Shakur.

What should everyone be aware of when it comes to our bodies and our health?

When the body ‘speaks’ or even ‘whispers’, please pay attention. There’s a popular saying in the ‘Chemo Rooms’, across the globe for cancer survivors. “Anything that persists for 2 weeks, go and have it checked out immediately!”
I personally think this should be applied regardless. And even more importantly get multiple combination medical opinions, perspectives (Tony Robbins).

I literally went to 4 different GP’s and they all, respectively said I was ‘too young’ for this type of Cancer. Only after the 4th GP, was I sent to a specialist for a proper evaluation then diagnosed on 26 September 2012.

Then on an ‘Energy’ level, I have come to the realization in my journey/process of becoming a professional coach, is to also understand, that ‘Dis-Ease’ (Disease), manifests as a result of an energy ‘blockage’ in one or more of the following areas. (Heart/Mind/Body/Spirit). There are many interventions out there to support you in the ‘Holistic’ healing process. Always, remember there is a place and purpose for both the ‘Medical’ and the ‘Holistic’ healing perspectives. Integrate them all. The mind/body connection continues to be an area of continued learning, personal development and fascination for me. I don’t for a moment believe that my personal ‘life challenge’ was/is more or less significant than that of any other. It’s all relative. Last, but certainly not least, the power of PRAYER, and GRATITUDE.

Post Cancer with the realization that “It’s not how much time we have on this planet, but ultimately how we choose to occupy our time” you released The Calling …

Yes, I started writing this song 13 years ago at music school re a verse, melody and the chorus. I literally put myself on a ‘Johnny Clegg Music Diet’ for a full week at the time. I particularly loved his ability to fuse English and Indigenous languages. I resonate with the core value of embracing diversity and inclusivity, on a very deep personal level, especially given the history of our country.

Post 2012, 6 weeks in hospital, 3 major surgeries, 8 rounds of Chemotherapy, an Ileostomy bag attached to the right side of my tummy for 8 months, and 19 months of recovery, I literally only decided to finished the song about 7 months ago, after connecting with an amazing producer/lyricist/songwriter, Charlie Hamilton, whom has produced for the likes of TKZee and Idols winner, Jody Williams (to name a few). I met him through the ‘Music Exchange Conference’ which takes place annually in Cape Town. It’s time to shift our paradigm and focus on all that connects us as a people, as humanity. After all, we all ‘smile’ and ‘cry’ in the same language.

There’s some rare video footage of me performing a tribute to another one of my biggest inspirations, Robert Nesta Marley aka Bob Marley, ‘Redemption Song’ in 2013 at the ‘Obviouzly Armchair Theatre, whilst on Chemo and the ileostomy bag attached to the right side of my tummy. As you know he also left the world through Cancer.

Johnny Clegg is one of your inspirations…

It’s been a bit overwhelming, as I officially released the song on 5 May 2017 in association with the Cornerstone Institute and the Ari’s Cancer Foundation. While driving to one of my rehearsals, prior to the show, I came across a bill board/poster, on one of the Street Light poles ”Johnny Clegg Battling Cancer” and doing his final world tour called, ‘The Final Journey’. I got so emotional and had to pull over the car to clear the tears from my eyes, given the profound connection and context behind my new single, inspired by this Legend.

“Be true to you” is a strong message in The Calling…

Yes, as Shakespeare said, “To thy own self-be true…” A calling for all of us, to pause, reflect and ask ourselves, “Why am I here? How do I want to be remembered? There’s an insightful video by Simon Sinek on Youtube, which I highly recommend. He is the author of the 2013 Best Seller Book: ‘Start with Why” which has become the governing principle behind every single one of my personal pursuits, be it music and/or people development. He speaks of the ‘Golden Circle’. Start with defining/understanding your WHY, then ensure that it speaks through your WHAT and your HOW.

Thank you so much once again for the opportunity to share. I leave you with another one of my favorite quotes by Tony Robbins: ‘How do we evaluate the QUALITY of a good life experience? If we can answer YES, to the following 3 questions:

Is it good for you? (Heart/Mind/Body/Spirit)
Is it good for the people around you? (Heart/Mind/Body/Spirit)
Is it in harmony with the GREATER GOOD?

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Roeshdien performing Redemption Song in 2013 at the ‘Obviouzly Armchair Theatre