WE are fondly familiar with her hit song Missing You, which debuted more than a decade ago. Years later, contemporary popular music idol Jae has made a name for herself on a national and international level. And now she is trying something new – theatre. As the newest member of the Barnyard Theatre family, the singer is in full swing with the production Surf’s Up.

The charming R&B sensation shared her thoughts on joining the Barnyard Theatre.

“I always wanted to do it. My first passion is for music and performance, not really recording, so it’s more about the performance for me. I like the theatre experience and I loved the idea of performing and being on the set of a production. That’s what initially inspired me to get into this industry.”

Surf’s Up centres on the theme of a beach party featuring a 10-piece cast that takes you to exotic musical destinations like Jamaica, where you can enjoy the sounds of Bob Marley and UB40.

The production offers a wide variety of music “like rock ’n’ roll and a bit of R&B, pop and reggae, so it’s a variety show and appeals to a wide audience”, Jae said.

“Performing has been challenging, but it has been so interesting. The adjustment comes in when I… mix my Jae career with this theatre project. So it can be a bit of a challenge, but I have to work around it.”

Since her major hit, the entertainer has been involved in multiple projects, including working on her music and starting her own record company, NB Music Records. With an endless number of highlights in her career, from being the supporting act on the Durban leg of US R&B superstar Usher’s SA Tour to being the only non-Indian artist to perform at the Miss India Worldwide pageant, Jae says the moment that left her speechless and truly blessed was meeting Oprah Winfrey at the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy For Girls.

And now, as a theatre performer, she is considered as an artist who takes risks.

Asked if she was nervous before a show, she said: “I’m always nervous before every show. But my nerves go away once I’m on stage.”

Jae’s star from whom she draws her inspiration is her mother.

“My mum has always supported me and she’s such a strong woman, physically and emotionally. I know what she’s been through and she’s still able to maintain that sweet, warm and humble personality and be so forgiving.“

To aspiring artists and those passionate about pursuing their dreams, Jae says: “This industry is difficult and you have to do a lot of research and realise that in the music industry, its not as easy as it appears to be on TV. It’s hard work and you have to have strength of character. So do your homework, love what you do and want it.”