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4 Questions With MASC artist… JustJamaal ThePoet

Jamaal Jackson Rogers, stage name JustJamaal ThePoet, is an award-winning poet, arts educator, creative entrepreneur, songwriter and recording/performance artist. He has brought his work to audiences nationally and abroad, and served as Ottawa’s poet laureate from 2017-2019 as well as Carleton University’s Music Program Artist in Residence for the 2019-2020 school year. The Origin Arts & Community Centre serves as his launch pad to teach, mentor and advocate for the arts. In 2021 he is opening the four-season Black Rhino Artist Retreat in Kinburn.

Jamaal is a proud MASC artist. MASC is Wellington West’s charity partner this ARTS Season. The Ottawa-based arts organization represents a roster of 138 professional artists of diverse backgrounds, who offer workshops, performances, and artist-in-residence programs in all artistic disciplines to schools and communities across Canada.

As an artist he is a poet/writer, spoken word practitioner, recording rap artist, and stage performer, appearing on numerous festival stages with his Hiphop group Missing LinX and soul band, The Wize. Since his early years he has honed his talents that has allowed him in the past half decade to bring his performances to audiences across Canada and internationally. His defining moments are when he makes intimate connections with his listeners during his live performance sets. As a creative entrepreneur he has quickly become known for his ability to take ideas and translate them into action, using art as a way to bring communities together for entertainment and education.

1. Tell us about some of the artistic work you’ve done in Wellington West:

I’ve been privileged to launch a creative arts venue in Wellington West. The Origin Arts & Community Centre was founded by myself, Jacqui DuToit and Ali Misana. We opened our doors five years ago and have curated legendary events in the small sized venue performance venue. From having the Godfather of Rap, Jalal “Lightning Rod” Nuriddin of the Last Poets perform on our stage to hosting the Origin Kitchen Concerts in partnership with the Great Canadian Theatre Company, I’ve always loved bringing cultural art events to Wellington West.

2. What do you find inspiring about Wellington West?

The variety. I find residents of the area are open and welcome variety, as historical it’s an area that has always attracted a diverse community of citizens. From the services to the landscape to the architecture, you feel as though you’ve entered another city when you come into Wellington West. 

3. What are some of your favourite spots to visit when you’re out and about in Hintonburg and Wellington Village?

My favourite spot would be The Flava Factory. It’s a street dance studio and they have the widest offer of street dance courses as well as have been a staple in keeping Hiphop dance art forms as a sacred and specialized practice. A store that I grew up going to in Wellington West was St. Vincent De Paul. Always could find unique clothing and house hold items thrifting there and the shopping experience was always pleasant. 

4. What projects do you have coming up?

I am currently working on the continuation of the Origin Kitchen Concerts in partnership with The Great Canadian Theatre Company. Our goal is to access GCTC’s main stage and showcase mid-career performing artists in an intimate setting. As the Director of Operations for The Origin Arts & Community Centre, the team and I are planning to produce three events alongside GCTC for their next theatre season. These events will be stage productions that are originally produced and performed by myself, Jacqui and Ali. 

For more info on Jamaal’s work, check out his website