Jasmine Pene wins 2020 E Tū Whānau Song Competition with soulful standout

Jasmine Pene (aka Jazo) (Te Arawa, Ngāti Porou) from Rotorua was the stand out winner of the 2020 E Tū Whānau Song Competition, taking home winning $5000 in cash for her enchanting waiata Your Mind is Your Garden.

Jazo began making music only two years ago, and already she has several strings to her musical bow. She composed, sang, played keyboards and produced Your Mind is the Garden, and she loves what she does.

“The first time I stepped into a studio, I knew that that was what I was going to be doing for the rest of my life,” Jasmine says.

The song’s smooth synth sounds, and Jazo’s warm and close vocal delivery make for dreamy listening. The waiata also offers musical sanctuary through dark personal times by celebrating opportunities in life with optimism and hope.

“Take a chance,
Make your dreams happen –
It’s a perfect day.”

Listen to Your Mind is the Garden.

Jasmine Pene celebrates life’s opportunities

Community and whānau are important to Jazo, and aroha and manaaki shine through Your Mind is the Garden. She believes that when people feel good about themselves, strong communities can grow around them.

“We have this ability to create a beautiful place in ourselves, and then we can start to expand that beauty to our families, communities and iwi,” Jasmine Pene says.

As she explains, the waiata’s poetic lyrics are an expression of self-love, of approaching life’s opportunities with optimism. When positive thinking is at the base of one’s self, the rest of the person lines up, she says. It’s about finding the light in every bit of darkness, and using it to keep moving forwards.

“Mirror mirror on the wall,
Will I always get up when I fall?
Will I run, or have to crawl?
Set my goals anyways achieve them all.”

For Jazo, it’s a thing of beauty that every moment in life is a potential seed and we can either grow something great, or be negative with our mindset. It is this idea of opportunity that lies within the metaphor around which the song it built.

“Your mind is the garden
And your thoughts are the seeds.
You can grow flowers or you can grow weeds.”

Love of music

Music and creativity are integral to daily for life for Jasmine Pene. Like all creatives, what she loves about music, especially singing, is that it involves bringing something into the world. Singing is also therapeutic for her, something in which she can get lost – only to return renewed by self-awareness.

“Sunshine when my days are low
I’m the only one I’m tryna get to know.”

Jasmine Pene’s big heart

Although Jazo’s real passion lies in composing and producing music, she has performed alongside some established musicians such as House of Shem, and Louis Baker.

She also won the 2020 Te Manu Tito Waiata – Rotorua Song Writing Competition, before going on to win this year’s E Tū Whānau competition. She’s very grateful for the opportunity to compete, and to connect with the beautiful kaupapa of E Tū Whānau. 

Despite her success, Jazo is mindful that, like all of us, she exists as a point in time between the past the future. It is this that she holds above all else.

“What I value is my whānau , my tīpuna, my family, and the next generation to come as well. Once we set down a strong foundation that is filled with love and manaaki, you can’t go wrong with the next generation,” she says.

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