Recently, we had the pleasure to meet up with the dynamic, Sylvia (Joy) Smith, also known as Masta Blasta. Many know her for her community activism in Atlanta, Georgia, but many are finally finding out that Joy is a woman who possesses many talents. The drummer/percussionist has fascinated crowds with her musical talents for several years and is now ready to take her advocacy and musical talents to a new level. Below is the transcript of the interview conducted with Joy.
1up Atlanta Examiner: For those not familiar with you, who is Sylvia (Joy) Smith and when did Joy evolve to become MaSta BlaSta #11?
Joy: I Am Sylvia JoY OgunaMeji Smith. Breaking my name down, Sylvia -Keeper of the wilderness, JoY- Truth, OgunaMeji (6th Royal Keeper; knower of beginning and end, twin spirited, owner of metal, the forest, and intelligence) Smith- a metal worker, forging on. That is what my mother named me, and I never saw to change my name, even through the different phases. I had add ons (Oguna Meji) but never a change. Masta Blasta was given to me by an ex-girlfriend who happens to be referred to as a witch. She showed me how to own being a master and what it all meant. I am an 11-master known by numerologist.
1up Atlanta Examiner: Who came up with the name “Joyful SoundZ” and does the name have a specific meaning?
Joy: I did. It is exactly what it says. There’s an emphasis on soundZ, with the vibration the sound of the letter Z makes. It says quite a bit about the type of music I make. I’m more interested in the way the sound and sound waves affect the human body and emotions.
1up Atlanta Examiner: Some have described what you do as creating a healing sound that re-defines spiritual worship. Do you feel that is an accurate description of what you do and who you are as a musician? If not, please feel free to provide a description that is more accurate.
Joy: I am ultimately a gatekeeper and a healer, and it comes in many forms. It comes out in my leadership as well as my team-player ideology.
1up Atlanta Examiner: How do you balance being an artist and an activist? Do you even consider yourself an activist?
Joy: I would only call it activism because that’s how it’s categorized. What I do naturally is considered activism, amongst other things. I believe there is no such thing as a separate professional from personal. I think you are where you are and who you are if you are, truly being that person. [laughs]
1up Atlanta Examiner: Who influenced you to become a musician and who are current musicians you listen to when time allows?
Joy: I don’t have one person that influenced me to get into music. That, I give to my god and myself. I was encouraged to explore my gifts in the following order, at Holy Angels as a Little Angel with the choir, at Piney Woods with Ms. Lindy McLeod, where I learned the most about the human voice and how it works, what a life of singing could actually look like, and how serious it is, knowing that music is controlling the world, and last the current band director I play with is always challenging me to use my voice and show my guns, my muscle arms!
1up Atlanta Examiner: Has the covid-19 pandemic impacted your work? If so, how are you managing to continue to be active and relevant?
Joy: Covid has indeed impacted my work. Several scheduled gigs were canceled or postponed a whole year out, and who knows what I’ll be doing by then. It forced me to be more creative. I applied for more grants, sponsorships, and created opportunities for myself to play, as well as other musicians. I created a backyard jams concert series for this purpose, as well as to heal my community using the power of music.
1up Atlanta Examiner: Are there any modern artists you would like to work with?
Joy: I look forward to working with Drummer, Questlove, Timberland, Eric Roberson, Eliel Lazo, and Chucho Valdes.
1up Atlanta Examiner: Where should the readers go to support your programs and projects, and how can they follow and contact you if they are interested in booking you for performances, or public speaking engagements?
Joy: They can find me at:
Official Website: www.joyfulsoundz.com