Jimi Hendrix's artist and healer daughter Tayo: We need to tap into our inner freak
Tayo Irvine Hendrix, daughter of rock star Jimi, is a musician, artist, children's book author and healer but on her first visit to Northern Ireland, she tells Gail Bell how she is still guided by her late parents and why we all need to get to know our self
AS AN artist, musician, composer, motivational speaker, storyteller and Shamanic healer, it is difficult to know where to begin with Tayo Irvine Hendrix, a woman who skips to the beat of her own drum.
And not just any old drum either – a Shamanic drum, given to her by rock'n'roll legend father, Jimi Hendrix, when she was a three-year-old, tentatively learning to connect with the power and passion of his music.
The drum is still her most treasured possession, its steady rhythm running through all aspects of her her life, career and 'calling' to heal, whether as a Shaman practitioner or through reiki, psyschotherapy and counselling which also form part of the exhaustive Hendrix CV.
But, it wasn't to talk about the 'Tayo Healing Method' per se that brought the glamorous 50-something to Belfast recently, but to accept a new 'Peace' award ahead of a Belfast Alternative Fashion celebration at Belfast Castle earlier this month. Hendrix, who says she has always lived as a "square peg in a round hole" felt it important to support the local 'alternative' event which embraces diversity in an industry more often seen worshipping at the altar of conventional beauty and perfection.
Unfortunately, due to clashing schedules, she wasn't able to attend the actual show, organised by World Equal magazine founder and Co Down photographer Shelley Rodgers, but flew into Belfast a few days earlier to collect her award and also present a copy of award-winning children's book, 'Hummingland', to be auctioned off for charity on the night.
Jimi Hendrix famously played at the Whitla Hall for the Belfast Festival at Queen's University in 1967 but this was the first ever visit to Northern Ireland by his daughter (now the mother of a grown-up son and daughter of her own) – and she was blown away by the welcome.
"It's an honour to be here, really, even though it is literally a flying visit this time," the artist gushes down the line while being chauffeured around Belfast ahead of her next international stop in Stockholm, where she will close the 'Heartbeat' art exhibition before it moves to Iceland and then New York.
With Irish ancestry on her grandmother's side, she hasn't ruled out staging an exhibition of her distinctive "energy portraits" in Belfast sometime in the future and is also looking into the idea of bringing some aspect of her London-based Tayo Healing Centre to the north as well.
"On the flight to Belfast this morning, I got talking to someone doing charity work for homeless people in Northern Ireland – we always work with homeless people [TaYouth Foundation supporting vulnerable young people is philanthropic, self-funded part of the Hendrix brand] – so we might reconnect and do something here in that sphere," she says.
"Belfast needs a lot of healing, like most places I've visited. Everything I do is about healing and getting people to understand themselves and tap into who they are. I call it tapping into your inner freak."
An intimate connection to spirit-driven healing she traces back to that Shamanic drum, after realising how its rhythm interacted with her own physical heartbeat, lowering it when she felt stressed. But it wasn't until much later, in 1988, following the suicide of a friend, that Hendrix left her life as a carefree musician to concentrate on healing and Shamanism – a practice linked to altered states of consciousness and channelling transcendental energies.
Today, she uses this, alongside other healing methods to help people harness their own "life force" and reconnect with their "authentic inner beat" which, she claims, brings healing of body, mind and spirit. Lately, in addition to these various healing techniques (including work as a medium) another "exciting" new Harley Street project awaits through partnering with US alternative-medicine doctor Laura Lile to focus on "whole body balance" medicine and the body's own algorithms for natural healing.
"I teach people to heal themselves through a clearer understanding of 'self'," she explains, "and I have seen people recover from all sorts of ailments. My core belief is that the mind builds the physical result. This permeates everything I do, whether through art, music or writing – with the Hummingland book, for example, the core message is teaching children to respect themselves while accepting each other's differences. After all, it takes all kinds of instruments to create a symphony."
The book, one of a five-part series about a 'Naughty Cello' and musical friends finding love, life and happiness – it won the Sylvia Anderson Children's Author 2018 award – was her first foray into writing and was prompted in the middle of the night by her dead father, Jimi, and mother, Dorothea, in whose memory she set up her healing centre in 1993.
Hendrix had been on the 10th day of a Lenten fast when the Hummingland stories came via a dream, "through my parents", she says. She got up the following day and wrote them all down, only later realising she had been gifted a story steeped in mindfulness and, in a way, created beyond her own consciousness.
"I still feel the influence of Mum and Dad; my parents are around me every day," she says. "I feel them all the time; if I didn't, it would be such a loss, as I hadn't yet turned five when I lost dad and I was only 25 when I lost mum. Pain is a part of life; I know what pain looks like. It makes me want to help and heal others.
"The healing message runs through my art, music and storytelling – and my painting, I believe, is also spirit-driven. I only started painting last November so it's very, very new. I don't paint people as they are; I paint their energy. Their energy looks very different and that's why my paintings are full of colour.
"I would waken up about 4am, jump out of bed and just start painting – I have just starting working on a painting of the late [Irish rock star] Phil Lynott. I'm definitely in a different head space when I'm painting but yet I'm very aware of what I'm doing. I feel it is outside of me, like it's coming from somewhere else."
Wherever it comes from, the artwork is selling fast: Yoko Ono bought a painting of John Lennon and almost 50 per cent of the artwork sold on opening night in Stockholm.
"When I'm back home in Blackheath in London, I'll be working again on my Phil Lynott; I knew him back in the day," she adds. "I only started this painting when a friend of mine, who is a good friend of Harry's [as in Prince Harry] asked me to paint something for his and Meghan's wedding. I am not very good at saying 'No', so I said, 'OK'... and that is how the artwork started.
"I love painting because it relaxes me and calms me down. I'm tuned into the spirits of other people most of the time and this allows me to have a little bit of time to focus on my own energy. It's what I'm about; my life is all about energy and taking pain and loss and putting it into something creative."