Unknown singers and dancers are being found out by small-time and big-time companies. It’s sort of incredible to think that one day you could be singing in front of your Panasonic camera, making a home video, and then a month later you get a call from a large record company asking you to fly to the big city and sign a deal with them. It isn’t something that can happen to anyone, but it can happen if you’re a talented, English singer and guitarist. James Bay is a lucky guy that happened to be videotaped during a live show in a pub and he got a call to come to New York a few months later. He is very young, but for the amount of time that he has been on the scene, he has proven he has got what it takes to run with the best of them.

jab3Bay became inspired by blues music after hearing Eric Clapton’s single, “Layla,” when he was only 11 years old. In an interview with Mark Savage, a journalist and blogger for BBC News, Bay was asked how he got started playing the guitar. “There was a guitar that my uncle owned and never learned to play. He sold it to my dad and when I heard Layla, that was the tune that really grabbed me. I said to my dad, ‘wait, there’s a guitar, right?’” Eric Clapton’s song definitely provided a lot of inspiration for Bay to go towards a career in music. However, growing up in Hitchin, Hertfordshire, a small English town, he did encounter plenty of music during the World Music Festival as a child. The World Music Festival is an extravagant event where Bay grew up listening to music from different corners of the world: from English heavy metal bands to African dance music. The World Music Festival showed him various music bands at a young age and gave him motivation. He listened and was encouraged by the music at the festival, but he learned about music through his own teachings. At first, it was books and people online. He would read hundreds of books about guitar playing and different types of rock and classical music. People he talked to online through chat rooms would give him helpful information, but he still didn’t receive everything that he could have. But then, along came a little application named YouTube. He was able to watch thousands of videos about guitars and music in one location by just hitting the play button. YouTube was a huge factor that Bay took advantage of at a young age, and by watching these videos, he learned about the music that he plays for us today.

jab4Dark of the Morning, Bay’s first extended play, included five songs and was released in July of 2013. Of the five, I personally enjoyed his single, “Stealing Cars.” The song isn’t as popular as some of his others, like “Hold Back the River,” or “Let it Go,” but I liked this song better than the others because of his voice. His singing voice is very clear and very powerful in all of his songs, but in this one, his voice seemed to portray his feelings with an even stronger tone. One thing that fans of his will notice in his music video is the fact that he isn’t wearing a hat, something that never happens. It could be considered blasphemy for us to see Bay perform without wearing a hat, but the lyrics are so good that I think we can overlook that. Dark of the Morning is an EP that hasn’t made the top of the charts by any means, but contains five underrated and underappreciated songs that have powerful messages. On the other side of things, Let it Go, his second extended play, gained a lot of media attention in 2014, with the album getting a top 10 placement on the iTunes chart and his popular single, “Let it Go,” earning #10 on the music charts in the UK. “Let it Go,” was all the rage during the summer of 2014, giving us a song that female fans could listen to after an extremely, gut-wrenching break-up. The song that was endorsed by the famous singer and songwriter, Taylor Swift, and several others, earned him the Critics’ Choice award, an award in Britain given to artists who gain media attention through their music, earlier this year.

jab1As a twenty-four year old young man who has been playing guitar and singing for about ten years, he has a remarkable voice and excellent skills on the guitar. He hasn’t received real fame until a few years ago, releasing his first songs through Republic Records, a huge record label in New York that first signed Bay on. Once he was signed to the record label and his songs began to flow through the media, Bay got his first taste of international stardom – such a young age, too. It’s only been a couple of years since his fan base grew to a sizeable amount, but in those few years he has made a name for himself with his extraordinary talent.

-Te’Ron Adams

Ayaan and Idyl Mohallim are twin sisters who have created their very own fashion collection called Mataano, which means “twins” in the Somali language. In 2009, after the release of their first collection, they interviewed with Oprah Winfrey to share their experience as twin fashion designers. This was the icing on the cake because this interview brought national attention to their emerging brand. Ayaan and Idyl were born in Washington, DC. Their mother felt that it was important that the girls learn the Somali language and culture, so they spent the first nine years of their lives in Somalia. Needless to say, the Somali culture ultimately inspired many of the designs for their collections. With absolutely no type of formal training in fashion design, the twins held steady to their dream and passion to create a brand that the two envisioned when they were younger.

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Benjamin Shine certainly has a creative vision. His works are internationally recognized and he’s received several honors including the Red Dot Design Award, The Enterprising Brit Award, and The Courvoisier Future 500 Art & Design Award. While these accolades are admirable, what’s most remarkable about the London-born artist is his ingenuity. Most people might view a fashionista and an artist as distinctly separate roles, but Shine sees them as kindred spirits. He seamlessly blends fashion and art by interlacing fabric in his masterpieces. The level of intricacy in his works is astonishing, and he consistently creates something miraculous.

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Akira Isogawa has become one of Australia’s most popular and praised designers. Isogawa’s international recognition is due in part to his exquisite and contemporary designs. His creative mixes have allowed him to achieve international recognition. The fashion maven’s creations are being sought after in every major fashion capitol across the world.

Isogawa was born in Kyoto, Japan, growing up he didn’t have any dreams of becoming a world famous fashion designer. “I grew up in Kyoto, Japan and as a small boy thought I would be like my father, a public servant. It wasn’t until I was 21 years old and came to Australia that I really knew I wanted to be a fashion designer. I studied fashion design and graduated from the East Sydney Institute of Technology,” he told ourbrisbane.com.

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Traveling to California and making it big as an actor is something that a lot of people dream about. It’s a chance that many people take, but only few succeed. You have so many actors in Hollywood begging for small roles to open doors for them so one day they will be able to be placed in a much larger role and hopefully make their name known across the nation. A person like Marilyn Monroe, an actress and model who is famous for her seductiveness and making the“dumb blond” personality so well known, automatically comes to mind when talking about the greatest Hollywood stars of all time. Or maybe Harrison Ford, an actor known for playing Han Solo in the original Star Wars and playing as the iconic Indiana Jones, can be put as number one on the list. But what about Meryl Streep, a woman who has personified herself as one of the greatest actresses of all time through her character transformations and the perfect vocals of her accents? Streep has been around since the 70s, making people laugh, cry, cheer and express anger, sometimes all in the same movie. While the actress is well-known around the globe , she has endured a great deal of opposition.

mer1When facing opposition, it is understood by most that you must face your adversary head on and face the fear of rejection and failure. This is something that Streep learned at a young age. On January 9, 2015, Streep was a guest on The Graham Norton Show, a British comedy talk show that broadcasts in the UK. On the show, she recalled being rejected for Dino De Laurentiis’ 1976 film, King Kong. “The father said to his son in Italian, ‘Why did you bring me this?’” But Streep, being able to speak and write Italian fluently, responded to Dino by saying in Italian, “I’m sorry I’m not beautiful enough to be in King Kong.” She admits that at that time she felt a little heartbroken and uneasy, but now, it’s something she can laugh about.

When you pull a random stranger aside and ask them if they have heard of the name Meryl Streep, they will most likely say something along the lines of, “Meryl Streep? Dude, who hasn’t heard of her?” An actress who has won countless awards for her spectacular acting skills can’t be overlooked. I think the reason her popularity is so large and grand is because of her successful acting career…and you can throw in her ravishing looks. Still now, being 66 years old she still has the looks to turn a man’s head. It important that we realize the art that she has given us over the past three decades, and it’s crucial we recognize her fantastic onstage performances. Yes, her onstage performances are amazing, but it doesn’t hurt to look good while doing it, now does it?

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From a very young age, Streep’s mother became a mentor to her by instilling a sense of confidence in her. Her mother, encouraged her to follow her dream. Surprisingly, the famous actress was more of an introvert when she was a child and she didn’t break out of her shell until high school. During her young years, she was the girl in class with the thick, horn-rimmed glasses and the messy hair. In elementary and middle school, she wasn’t one to make her presence known in class. She would be considered the quiet kid at the back of the room, but at home her personality was entirely different. While she was a shy girl during school hours, once she got home she would run around the house, showing off in front of her parents’ video camera. She would sing and dance while the camera was recording, which eventually led to Streep enrolling in opera lessons. She sung at school recitals but she didn’t like what she was doing, and she quit soon after. Her life became revolved around her friends at her Catholic school and where she attended mass. It wasn’t until leaving her Catholic school and going her own way in life that she found the enjoyment of acting.

Throughout high school, Streep appeared in several plays with her classmates, yet she wasn’t interested in theatre seriously. However, at Vassar College, a liberal arts school in New York, she became widely known across the campus after acting the lead role in Miss Julie, a Swedish play based in the late 1800s. Students and professors alike were astonished with her acting and her fluid accent that she portrayed onstage. Her amazing acting skills earned her a Bachelors of Arts degree at Vassar College, and just four years later in 1975, she earned a Masters of Fine Arts at the Yale School of Drama. It was here that she had her greatest struggles. She was able to obtain a lot of acting roles and stage productions throughout her time at the drama school, but she became overworked by trying to juggle her acting career with her school life, not to mention her waitressing and typing jobs. Several times she thought about quitting her acting career and just watching other actors from the sidelines. She contemplated switching her major to law and studying to insert herself into the justice system. Luckily for us, Streep was able to fight through her obstacles, graduate from her school, and go on to become the Meryl Streep we know today.

mer4Streep is known by many as one of the best film actors of all time, and judging by her career, it’s easy to see why anyone would concur. Receiving 29 Golden Globe nominations throughout her long and successful career is an amazing achievement, but honestly, I still think that it’s an understatement. Winning eight more nominations than any other actor or actress in history is something that shouldn’t be stated unless there’s several exclamation points following shortly after. In her time, she has also earned five different New York Film Critics Circle Awards, two Australian Film Institute awards and five Grammy nominations, just to mention a few. Just five years ago, President Barack Obama awarded Streep with a National Medal of Arts, a prestigious art award given to the most talented artist through Congress, and later in 2014, the U.S. President gave her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, a medal given to civilians who have made an impact on the world through world peace, art or cultural endeavors. Just knowing that she received two honorable awards through Congress because of her films should earn her a lot of respect.

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It would be nearly impossible to talk about all of the films that Streep has played a role in, significant and minor, but one of her most crucial films would probably be Taxi Driver, a film that she had no involvement in. The film is about a loner who finds a job as a taxi driver and becomes a vigilante. Though she had no role in the film, she saw the performance of Robert De Niro, an actor known for being in an array of films, and absolutely loved it. She knew that she wanted to have a performance as grand as De Niro’s and she set out and only strived for her best. She underwent auditions for several films including the lead role in Dino De Laurentiis’ King Kong, but ultimately failed. It wasn’t until 1977 in her supporting role in Julia that she became known. It was here that she played alongside Jane Fonda. She only had a small flashback sequence where she appeared for a few minutes with most of her line edited, but it was the point when she became a true actress.

Streep has gone through several struggles but emerged victorious. That could be the thesis of her life. But undergoing the difficulties in school and during her acting career has increased her acting skills even further over the years, and even though she’s in her mid-60s, she still has the ability to steal the spotlight whenever she’s onstage. It’s the curse she was born with.

-Te’Ron Adams