Twinkl Interviews Jayshree Mallaya (Make Music Day 2021)

We spoke to Make Music Day Durban organiser Jayshree Mallaya about South Africa’s music scene, inspiring the youth, overcoming challenges in a pandemic and more

Every 21st June, around the world, Make Music Day hosts free celebrations of the vibrancy and diversity of world music. To join in with those celebrations, we had the opportunity to ask some questions of the organiser of South Africa’s official Make Music Day organiser, Jayshree Mallaya, about what to expect over the event, the music of South Africa and Durban specifically and her work as co-founder of the organisation, Over the Walls Together:

What events can the people of Durban expect over Make Music Day?

Since South Africa is in stage three of its COVID-19 restrictions, we are encouraging musicians in Durban to celebrate Make Music Day Durban from their home, studio or work place.

Our events are limited to the Window Serenade which will be taking place at Clayton Gardens Home For The Aged. Durban Musicians Eric Demant and Bhuda Hustler will be serenading the residents of the home.

This Moment In Time will be taking place at the Rosehill Primary School. School children will be saying a prayer and ringing the school bell in Remembrance of the 3,879,010 people who have died so far from COVID-19.

UBuhle eTheku, our vibrant young all girls Zulu dancers will also be honouring the people who have passed away due to COVID-19 with a Zulu prayer, traditional Zulu dancing and the beating of the cowhide drum.

Menelik Nesta Gibbons aka Don Dada, multi award-winning singer, will be sharing his live stream with us.
What makes South Africa’s music scene unique?

I absolutely love South Africa’s Music scene. It’s a melting pot of a variety of cultures, languages and ethnic groups that bring together rich sounds, melodies and styles.

It’s a vibrant fusion that embodies diversity in Mandela’s vision of a Rainbow Nation. We have a combination and fusion of traditional and modern Zulu music, Indian, Afrikaans, and English that is found nowhere else in the world.

We believe South Africa contributes to our global music platform with its township beats, kwaito, Durban Bollywood style, Afrikaans and English fusion. It adds a richness to the music scene.

How important are events like make music day for preserving cultural history?

Make Music Day add value to our industry and open up pathways to connect musicians and singers with who may never have those opportunities. We are continually learning and growing about each community’s music culture. Coronavirus affected our music industry where many musicians have had to close down. We want to send out a message of support and let artists know that when we work together amazing things are possible.
What should we be doing to inspire the next generation of musicians?

This is a great question and one that needs to be amplified. Our organization Over The Walls Together supports local artists as well as international artists. We would love to see established individuals and organisations work together to inspire and provide training, education and support to our youth. We have such incredible talent in our youth and many emerging countries like South Africa need help. Established artists and businesses in the music industry are a symbol of hope and inspiration to a new and upcoming artist. Let’s open up communication and create a think tank where our young generation can have access and support to pursue their music dreams.
Who are some South African musicians you’d like to highlight?

Yashna International and Neo Ndawo collaborated with us on our gender-based violence song ‘Join Hands Around The World (end Violence Against Women and Girls)’. Watching them grow and create new fresh music is a big inspiration to us.

We were recently approached by multi-platinum South African Reggae hip hop artist Don Dada who has a passion for music and educating our youth.

We will be releasing three songs for Make Music Day: Yung Prospect’s ‘Believe in the Power of the People’ which challenges people to believe in themselves and their communities.

Envision will be releasing their first group record, ‘Blessers’, a song that highlights the problems our young girls face with HIV-infected rich men who indulge in transactional sex with girls as young as 15 years. This is being seen as the major reason for a spike in the recent increase of HIV infections in our youth.

Finally, to kick off Make Music Day, Durban-based award-winning producer, Neo Ndawo’s new single All The Way will be released today.
What has been your proudest moment with Over the Walls Together?

Being able to create a global platform through our work and music videos raising awareness and highlighting the problems South Africa and the world makes us feel positive that change is possible.

Meeting supportive people in our country and other countries has been very inspiring to us. We also have been invited and interviewed in about 20 podcasts in France, USA, Jamaica, Canada, Scotland, Australia and had 85,000 views on Join Hands Around The World which was the first music video our organization released at an International Women’s Day 24-hour Virtual Summit on Clubhouse this year.

We were also selected for the United Nations generation equality forum happening in Paris from 30 June to 2 July 2021.
What was the inspiration for your instrument donation programme?

Our organisation works a lot with young artists from disadvantaged communities and we see all this incredible talent and passion for music and many times they are held back by a lack of music instruments and production equipment. We were initially sponsored by our co-founder Winn Coleman, a Hawaiian lyricist and music publisher, that assisted us with equipment we required for our work at schools and with young artists from disadvantaged communities.

The more we started working with artists and hearing their stories we saw a need to create a campaign for established artists and musicians who may have used or unused equipment to help our musicians.

With the past year presenting some unique difficulties for the arts, how can we help to encourage events over the next year?

When we connected with Make Music Day three weeks ago, we faced a challenge of not having enough time to put together an event, for the first time in Durban, as part of an international celebration with the possibility of COVID-19 restrictions moving up to Stage Three from Stage Two. The decision to take part and Make Music Day Durban a reality was our love and belief in our local artists and the music they so passionately produce.

We will always be faced with difficulties and personal challenges but we’re resilient. Like our organisation’s name, Over The Walls Together, we are going to climb every wall together to make sure we provide opportunities for our artists and youth to develop their music skills and create powerful music that can positively impact our world. We want to see more events and collaborations. We are also excited to start planning for the next Make Music Day on December 21.

Make Music Day South Africa is here to stay 🙂