Ms Natural Hair UK winner

The Ms Natural Hair UK pageant is different from other beauty pageants, as it celebrates women with natural afro textured hair. We talk to the contest's first ever winner, singer Bashiyra
 

Bashiyra (seated) with the contestants of the Ms Natural Hair UK pageant

Who is Bashiyra?
Firstly I’m a spirit on a physical journey of self-exploration, discovery and being. I’m God’s child, and a dedicated, loving and committed mother and life partner, balanced with my professional career of singer, songwriter, performer, vocal and voice coach, singing lecturer. I am also CEO and founder of Empirical Arts (a creative arts organisation), fashion designer, model and overall business woman and creativepreneur.

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Bashiyra wearing the Ms Natural UK crown made of cowrie shells

Congratulations on winning the Ms Natural Hair UK. How did it feel when your name was announced?
Thank you! When my name was announced I just stood there transfixed to the spot with my hands covering my mouth. Going through my mind was a mixture of absolute euphoria, joy, gratitude and, ‘Oh my gosh, I won!’
The audience and the judges’ responses to my winning was really the icing on the cake. I still vividly recall the cheering, the clapping and the stomping of feet, wow that was really a power-filled moment! The support was immeasurable and it was such an amazing and wealthy experience to have. I’m still glowing with winning the first ever ‘Ms Natural Hair UK’, it still feels like yesterday. What a feeling!

What does winning the competition mean for you?
It’s a cultural, national and international opportunity for me as ‘Ms Natural Hair UK’ to make a global impact and further showcase to the world, why natural Afro Caribbean/African hair is very much a leader in the choice of hair styling for women of colour. With the support of Conscious Vibes and its associated partners, I hope to serve the global community of people who adore and adorn natural hair and of who like me, highlight its absolute beauty, strength and ease of versatility in styling and maintenance.

You made a very dramatic entrance at the Ms Natural Hair UK finals, who designed that outfit?
Why, thank you. Well, that particular outfit was designed by yours truly, via my fashion label, House of Ba-Suwur Designs. I wanted to wear something original and unique something very me, and at the same time stylish and contemporary with unusual cuts and lines– rooted in African culture and symbolism. To that effect, I sourced the material in Senegal, West Africa and worked very closely with one of my Senegalese tailors to bring my designs to life.

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Bashiyra designed the outfit she wore on stage for the Ms Natural Pageant

Do you think competitions like this are a good idea?
With the focus being on cultural and self-identity elevation through natural hair, then yes, why not? Historically for so many women of colour, an option like ‘Ms Natural Hair UK’ was simply not viable until now. Hair or beauty contestants or queens did not even look like me, with dark chocolate brown skin and beautiful natural hair. So yes, I feel in this current climate that competitions and pageants of this nature are vitally important to leave indelible beauty footprints for generations to come, generations who’ll see themselves through me and others like me and be able to walk in the true majesty of themselves and also like me, make no apologies for being unique!

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Your Twitter handle is BashiyraDaVoice, what’s your musical genre?
My musical genre is an eclectic mix of neo-soul, contemporary jazz, classic soul and jazz fusion funk, reminiscent of the fine music of yesteryear with distinct musical tonalities of today. I also have a big dance catalogue, more often as the featured vocalist and songwriter.

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Bashiyra describes her musical genre as neo-soul, contemporary jazz, classic soul and jazz fusion funk

Do you also write your own songs?
Yes I do, as well as being a singer and songwriter, I’m also a producer and arranger, which my new album project credits me for respectively. I’m super excited about my life and my new album is due for release in February 2017.
Two of the songs on that project I co-wrote with Richard Rudolph, the husband of Minnie Riperton and another song I co-wrote with Crystal Johnson who’s written for the likes of Mariah Carey and Jennifer Hudson. The new album project was produced by myself and Herb Middleton, whose production discography includes icons such as the late, great Teddy Pendergrass and Phyllis Hyman, as well as artists such as Mary J Blige and Usher. I also need to acknowledge my life partner, Cosmo Morgan, a DJ and producer in his own right, who’s been so supportive in and around my professional career over the last six years, and who has been simply priceless. Thank you BooMan, x

Are you in the studio now?
Yes! It’s one of my favourite creative hubs in the whole wide world, and I’m song-writing, producing, arranging and recording my vocals and music for something pretty major which I don’t have the green light on to expand upon just yet, but let’s just say it’s a another wish-list of mine being ticked off rather nicely…

What do think of the ‘natural hair movement?’
I love it and I love being an active contributor to it. My experience of the natural hair movement is that it’s self-accentuating, regal and harmonic. I glow when I see women and men rocking their natural hair – uninhibited and gracious.

When I’m in the Caribbean or Africa, there’s something so liberating to just wade into the crystal blue, green sea and submerge my locs in its energy and then mist with some natural oil and just exhale whilst the sun acts a natural dryer – Hair bliss!

How long have you been growing your locs?
I’ve worn my hair natural for over years fifteen years and in particular as locs for eleven years. It is the best ever natural hair choice that I made. A good friend started my hair with sister locs, which worked brilliantly for a few months, however I started to visualise my locs being much thicker, so I sought out how I could get the thickness I wanted before they really locced into place, .
I was fortunate enough to find a great loctician called Olanre, who looked after my locs for many years before he moved to the U.S.  The crazy thing is, I actually came face to face with him after so many years, at the heats for Ms Natural Hair UK, right here in London – can you believe that? There I was on stage just having been announced as the London winner, then I look out amongst the sea of faces and who do I see but Olan, over in the UK on business… That was quite surreal, like full ‘hair’ circle, complete.

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Who styles them for you now?
Love Blessing (Brixton, South London) and Locs4Life (Palmers Green, North London)
Two amazing natural hair specialists of whom my locs, just love! If one of those establishments were to ever not be available when I needed hair maintenance, then I’d simply wrap all my locs up in a headscarf or headwrap and let them do their thang.
As you know black women won’t let any old hand into their hair. That’s the unspoken rule, right! Seriously though, I did do a fair bit of research to locate my current hair care team. Locs4Life is always booked up months in advance (speaks for itself really!) so I just book a yearly appointment with master lead stylist and CEO, Jay, so I’m always in sync there and Blessing at Locs4Life will always find time to love up on my hair with her amazing treatments, whether its 1pm or 1am. So I can always relax and allow these ladies to work their brand and magic.

What’s your favourite hairstyle?
Oooh that’s hard! I’d have to say long with ringlets just released from plaits and worn over to one side.

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Wearing her hair to one side is one Bashiyra’s favourite looks

Who are your favourite celebrity locstars?
Ledisi
DSharp
Franchesca ‘Chescaleigh’ Ramsey
Ava DuVernay

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Clockwise from top left: violinist DSharp, vlogger Franchesca ‘Chescaleigh’ Ramsey, singer Ledisi and director Ava DuVernay

Do you think the perception of locs has changed since you’ve been loc’cing?
Most definitely and that’s a real good thing because locs are most definitely here to stay!

Do you think locs are under-represented in the natural hair movement?
Not any more, I see that the versatility and manageability of locs has become more widely known and accepted within the natural hair movement, people know they have a much more varied choice re: loccing techniques and hair care products. When Ledisi made her mark as an international singer, I kinda jumped for joy as I really saw my own image of hair loccing and perhaps more importantly hair styling, receiving positive mainstream attention and be loved for its uniqueness and crowning beauty.

Which products do you use to keep your hair looking so fab?
I use the essential organic ‘Love Blessing Hair Care’ range and recently came across the Lemon Grass as well as Rosemary & Peppermint Hair Mist by ‘Kittylocks’

Name your top three must-have beauty products?
Clear MAC lip gloss
Black liquid eyeliner
Black mascara

Are you a heels or flats kind of girl?
Definitely heels!

Designer or High Street 
Designer

Fave perfume?
Egyptian Musk Oil and DKNY for Women

Where can we find you?
Website
Facebook
Twitter

ABOUT MS UK NATURAL HAIR

The Ms Natural Hair Pageant is intended to generate positive dialogues and images for both young and mature people in the UK. It elevates natural African hair to a higher level to ensure its acceptance in the beauty industry, the fashion world and the workplace as well as ensuring that the winner serves as an inspirational ambassador of afro-textured hairstyles.

For more information about Ms Natural Hair UK and positive images of African and Caribbean identity, visit www.consciousvibes.co.uk

 

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