• JANAYAH (third from left) with the team from The Edge

Singing through the struggles

Lockdowns have thrown unwelcome curveballs to us all this past year, causing us to adjust and adapt along the way. Covid threw a particularly large one Janayah Wadsworth’s way, but she’s managing to maintain her balance, making musical lemonade from life's lemons.

In 2018, at the age of 13, the Takapuna Grammar School student received the AIMES Junior Excellence Award (Arts). Three years on, the talented North Shore singer has secured herself a place at one of the most prestigious popular music schools in the world, the Brit School in London. Her dream of studying where Adele, Amy Winehouse and many other singers honed their crafts, was set to become a reality when Janayah was due to start at the college this month. Cue: Covid.

“When I first heard that good news that I had been accepted into the prestigious BRIT school in London, I was jumping up and down with my mum, going absolutely crazy! It's an absolute honour. Singing has always been a part of my life and ever since I found out the Brit School existed when I was about seven years old, I fell in love with it immediately. I knew I wanted to go there.

“But, unfortunately due to circumstances beyond my control, including hold ups from the UK Home office because of the long lockdown in the UK and ongoing staffing issues, my required travel documents still haven't got to me, so I was unable to take up my place this year. All going well, I will be attending in 2022 and I can't wait!”

Last year, the 16 year-old had to forego her dream musical theatre role as Eponine in Les Misérables, when the TGS production was cancelled. She says, “It was huge blow to all the cast who had already done a lot of rehearsals for the show. However, in light of all the chaos, I focused on recording at home and getting my singing online. I was able to get my head more into the flow of writing my original songs.”

The Year 12 student says she has received excellent support from her school. “My music teacher, Lauren Raby, has been a massive help with supporting me with my singing and music development. She has always seen the best in me and encourages me to be the best I can be.”

Winning her AIMES Junior Excellence Award helped set Janayah, the student, on the path to becoming JANAYAH, the artist. “It helped me in so many ways,” she says, listing the recording and speaker equipment she was able to buy with the prizemoney.

“Thanks to North Harbour Club, I've been able to do so much with boosting my career as a recording artist. It's also given me opportunities to connect with people who want me to perform for them, which is an honour I am so thankful for!”

Her love of singing transcends genres, but she particularly enjoys performing ‘big songs’. “I really enjoy singing songs that are emotional and have big notes, as I have quite a strong voice and like to test myself.”

Branching out into dance music is one of the unexpected off shoots of lockdown for Janayah, after sharing her talents on social media. “I have just released a single with an Auckland DJ/music producer called Cymbol. It’s called Hanging On and is out on all streaming platforms. It was great to be working on a music genre that I hadn't really considered before.”

Janayah also recently won the nationwide SGCNZ/Morrison Music Trust Shakespeare Music Composition for vocal composition for my song she wrote for the death scene in Romeo and Juliet. “It is the first time I have ever entered a song into anything and so I am very proud to have won this.”     

It’s a winning attitude that will likely take her far. She says, “My ultimate dream, ever since I was little was to become a successful recording artist, which would include writing and producing my own songs. I want to tour the world with music and have my voice heard. I know it is not an easy industry to break into, but I have a strong will and I am working hard to try and achieve my goal.”

Follow her journey and enjoy some of her performances during lockdown on Facebook and YouTube: JANAYAH or on Instagram: @janayah.singer

Janayah Wadsworth, Junior Excellence Award (Arts) 2018, sponsored by Precise Homes