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Dec 30 / Prinza

Singer Ms Dynamite returns to her old school Wac Arts as it celebrates 35 years

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The singer, best known for her song Dy-na-mi-tee, joined a number of other Wac Arts alumni, who have all gone on to enjoy career success at the celebration held at the college’s base at Old Hampstead Town Hall in Haverstock Hill on Sunday (December 8).

Dec 30 / Prinza

Ms Dynamite Guest Of Honour At Old School Anniversary

Host of stars to celebrate 35 years of Wac Arts school in north London.

MS DYNAMITE has been confirmed as a guest of honour at her old school’s giant birthday bash in Belsize Park, north London.

Wac Arts, a charity and performance school, supports gifted young people facing exceptional challenges and hardship to fulfilling their potential through their arts and media programmes.

Among its alumni are 1996 Oscar, BAFTA and Golden Globe nominee Marianne Jean-Baptiste (Secrets & Lies), 2004 Oscar nominee Sophie Okenedo (Hotel Rwanda), world-famous jazz musicians Courtney Pine and Julian Joseph and four Mercury and Mobo Award winners, including Ms Dynamite and Zoe Rahman.

A spokesperson for the organisation described the 35th anniversary celebration, taking place on Sunday (Dec 8), as “the biggest birthday party of the year” and has promised a “magical night.”

He said: “Wac Arts is a space where young people can feel safe and enjoy their pursuit of performing arts and media, no matter what background they come from or challenges they may face.

“With new challenges ahead, Wac Arts is preparing to continue the exciting and industry developing work that it has been proudly creating since it started.”

He added: “Even in heavily uncertain financial times for the arts, the charity is pushing ahead creating new opportunities for young people.”

Ms Dynamite, who recently returned to the spotlight after eight years to releaseCloud 9, will be joining other prominent alumni such as Kevin Mark Trail (The Streets), pianist Julian Joseph, actor Danny Sapani, actress Ann Mitchell, and playwright Che Walker (Playwright).

There will also have a special video message from Hollywood star Jean-Baptiste.

Dec 30 / Prinza

Rapper Eve wants to tour with Ms Dynamite and Labrinth!

The female rapper is performing alongside Lil’ Kim at Musicalize this year and opened up on a number of topics; including which UK artists she would bring on a worldwide tour. She said:

“Okay, me, Ms. Dynamite…ummm. Who else? I don’t know a ton of people here by name, that’s the problem. Labrinth would be amazing, he’s dope. I think that’s enough for the world, we might be too much for the world. That would be dope. We should do a song together anyway though!”

Dec 30 / Prinza

Ms Dynamite: how I spent my Mercury prize winnings

Winning album: A Little Deeper (2002)

“It was £20,000 the year I won. Was that the biggest amount I’d seen up to that point? Yeah, definitely. I donated it to charity. No one involved in the music – including me – got any of the money. According to my mum, I actually donated five grand of my own as well, because I didn’t have enough to split it equally among the charities I wanted it to go to. I gave eight grand to the NSPCC, eight to Sickle Cell, and eight to the Caribbean studies department of the Metropolitan University where my mum did her degree, which was facing closure. And I donated a grand to Highgate Newtown, my local community centre, to their gymnastics class, because I did gymnastics when I was younger and they needed new equipment.

“No one tried to stop me but secretly a few people were probably annoyed. But I’m happy with my decision. I can totally get how people might think: ‘What a raving lunatic.’ How did my 10 brothers and sisters feel about it? Do you know what? We’re all right. The people that benefitted from that money needed it more.

“It took me so long to get my head round the fact that I’d won. I’d been living in the same street for years and suddenly I couldn’t go anywhere without the most random of people, from old pensioners to little kids, coming up to me. My life changed overnight. But St Dynamite? Do me a favour! No, there are a lot of stories about me I could tell you that are the complete opposite of holier than thou, believe me.”

Dec 30 / Prinza

Fear Fest 2013 @ Magna Rotherham ft. Ms.Dynamite

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Dec 30 / Prinza

Bassface Presents: Ms Dynamite (Supply and Demand)

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Dec 30 / Prinza

Video Interview: Ms Dynamite plots chart explosion

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Eleven years ago, Ms Dynamite’s debut album won the prestigious Mercury Music Prize and went platinum. After that success, however, she decided to step away from the music industry to bring up her son. That was until now. She tells BBC Breakfast about her return with the release of her latest track Cloud 9.

Dec 30 / Prinza

DJ Target with Ms Dynamite

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Ms Dynamite is live in the studio with Target talking new tunes and future collaborations. Plus the usual 100% homegrown music and Target’s Noticeboard

Dec 30 / Prinza

Interview: Ms Dynamite talks therapy, self-help, motherhood and more

Interview: Ms Dynamite talks therapy, self-help, motherhood, and coming back after eight years away from the spotlight

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It’s been a full eight years since Ms Dynamite released an album, and a good five since she started speaking about recording another one. The last time we heard from her, on 2005′s Judgement Days, the follow-up to 2002′s Mercury-winning A Little Deeper, she sounded full of foreboding, its brooding tempo a far cry from her joyful, career-defining early single, “Di-Na-Mi-Tee”. The album sold poorly, and Dynamite, born Niomi McLean-Daley, promptly withdrew from the music scene altogether.

Few pop stars of her generation have made such an initial impact, only to then disappear quite so comprehensively, and aside from three brief appearances in the spotlight since – unwittingly, in 2006, when she was arrested outside a nightclub, and later sentenced to 60 hours community service for assaulting a policewoman (“if I had been completely innocent of that,” she says now, “I’d be shouting it from the rooftops; but I wasn’t”), and on two reality TV shows, Sky 1′s The Race, and ITV’s Hell’s Kitchen – she pretty much vanished.

Her much mooted comeback single, then, is intriguing for many reasons. “Cloud 9”, which mixes drum’n'bass with a sweet reggae lilt and a breezy vocal, is almost as infectious as that early single of hers, and so offers suggestion that whatever was troubling her throughout Judgement Days has passed. Further indication comes from her Twitter account, which reveals a woman in the clutch of an almost delirious optimism.

“Keep pushin4ward, dnt givup, giv til theres nothin left Stand tall&firm, rise high, shine bright, laugh&love hard, right until the last breath,” one reads, exhaustively, while elsewhere, she re-tweets assorted Oprah Winfrey homilies (“things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out”) alongside those from an outfit called Spiritual Truths: “Things are not always as bad as you think. If you step back, you will see there is more to any situation than meets the eye.” All of which suggests the woman has spent her time away nose-deep in self-help books. True?

Dynamite, now 32 years old and looking, in the flesh (and in long, fake eyelashes), terrific, laughs out loud. “Oh, loads! They’ve been my salvation! They are so useful, so vital! See, I’m attracted to positive thoughts. If I get up in the morning and read something positive, and that can be anything – a headline, an email, a tweet, whatever – it makes me feel so much better about the day ahead. Self-help books are brilliant in that way; they are so full of such good advice. I have to stop myself from forcing them onto other people, if only because I want them to help others like they’ve helped me.”

Ms Dynamite arrives for our interview 90 minutes late, trailing a light jacket, her handbag, and a thousand apologies. She’s had a hectic few days, she explains: a live PA in Liverpool, then an overnight drive back home, then football trials for her 10-year-old son Shavaar, followed by a mercy dash to A&E after he fell from a tree. Composing herself, she orders a latte (“with soya milk, please”), and places her iPhone on the table, its glass front smashed into a terrible mosaic. “Need a new one now,” she points out, largely to herself.

The self-help guides, which she read in tandem with having “an awful lot of therapy”, were wholly necessary, she says, a life-saver, given that she spent so many years confused and conflicted. She was born and raised in Archway, North London, to a Jamaican father and Scottish mother, the oldest of 12 children. She rarely saw her father, and shortly before she turned 13, her mother was diagnosed with cancer.

“I don’t want to sound like I’m feeling sorry for myself because, honestly, I know I’ve got so much to be thankful for, and I hate sounding like a self-help book myself, but I had a lot of issues, and I was very angry. My mum having cancer didn’t help; she nearly died of it. And growing up with a single parent who turned up to my school concert bald after chemo… well, that was a shocker, traumatic. I had five younger siblings that were born and passed away, 12 of us survived, my father was only around periodically. There was never any food in the house – toast for dinner wasn’t unusual – and, so, yes, things were pretty difficult. I clashed with my mother a lot, with everyone.”

By 15, she was living in a hostel and drawing Jobseeker’s allowance, hoping to go to university to study social anthropology, and become a teacher. But she also loved her music, and would write and perform on the side, safe in the knowledge she wasn’t good enough to get anywhere with it. But then, the day she was due to start university, she landed a recording contract. At 21, she released her debut album, which was universally hailed for its vitality and intelligence. Suddenly, her life had changed, and her opinions on youth issues – for she had many – were being sought by government types keen to show finger-on-pulse awareness. Then she won the Mercury.

“On the surface, sure, I had all this confidence, all this character,” she says now, “but when I went home at night, I just felt completely unworthy. I had no self-belief: as an artist, a singer; nothing. It was all so strange. I couldn’t come to terms with it. Suddenly I had money, and I didn’t have to worry about feeding myself. But I couldn’t believe I was allowed to get away with it, that people were paying me to keep singing, when I couldn’t even really do that, not properly…” She needed to feel grounded again, and decided, cogently, to have a child. She had always loved children, always craved motherhood. “I’ve been ready to be a mother ever since I popped out into this universe,” she says. “And I always imagined myself having loads of children one day, like Angelina Jolie: surrounded by them, and giving them so much love.” At the time, she was dating her bodyguard, 22-year-old Dwayne Seaforth, and quickly fell pregnant. She gave birth to their son in 2003. The couple split two years later.

“I won’t lie, because of course it’s been challenging, but being a mother has always felt instinctively right, and good. And so after my second album didn’t do well, I knew that I needed to stop everything, and just focus on my son.” If she hadn’t, she adds, “I could’ve gone crazy, and probably would’ve.”

Several years passed, her life now largely and, the way she tells it, blissfully domestic. The therapy she underwent “was one of the best things I’ve ever done,” and gradually she felt the creative itch return. “I just sat down with my mum one day, and said to her, ‘I’m ready again. Just watch me’.” She started singing in clubs again, belatedly satisfied with the limitations of her voice.

“It’s like I decided I had a nice tone to my voice, and I was okay with that.” She laughs. “I still remember the day I accepted I was never going to be Whitney or Mariah, because I realised I didn’t want to be – had never wanted to be, in fact. It’s like, why was I so hung up over it? I wish I knew. But that was a complete revelation to me: that I was okay being me.”

Nevertheless, her confidence did continue to waver. “I’d be on stage in some club, looking out into a crowd of kids, and a voice in my ear would say: ‘You idiot! You’re too old for this! What do you think you’re doing, grandma?’”

At which point, presumably, she turned again to therapy and self-help? “I did. Lots! The therapy helped.” Meantime, she ploughed steadily on. Writing new material took time. She couldn’t decide whether to go electronic (“which I know, and love”), or more organic, more pop-friendly. Her comeback album was initially mooted for release in 2010, then 2011. It’s entirely likely, then, that “Cloud 9” is one of the more tortuously conceived singles of recent years. But it’s a good one, and it augurs well for the new album, whichever direction it ends up taking, and which she hopes will be ready next year.

“Look, I’m just happy anyone is remotely interested in what I’m doing anymore,” she says. “That’s the privilege, right there! That’s amazing to me, and humbling. But, you know, what is supposed to happen will happen, so I’m going to take my time about it.” She sips at last from the soya-milk latte she has spent the last hour ignoring. “Because, in life, there’s no rush, not really. Is there?”

Ms Dynamite and Shy FX release their new single, ‘Cloud 9′, on 21 October on Digital Soundboy

 

Dec 30 / Prinza

Farhot feat. Ms. Dynamite – Painkiller