[Interview] Jo Marie Smit sheds more light about Undivided Legion

We have all heard of metal fests for charity. But have you ever heard of a charity for metalheads? Well that is exactly what Jo Marie Smit (of Bloodbarf and formerly Junkyard Lipstick) has created. More specifically, she set up a charity that raises funds for metalheads in need, inspired by the terrible misfortune that had befallen her friend Wian Bester (bassist of Imperial Destruction and The Fallen Prophets). We have asked her a few questions about the charity and the circumstances that lead to its creation. ENJOY THE INTERVIEW

Audioinferno: Tell us what inspired you to start Undivided Legion?

Jo Marie Smith:

One of my friends and stone pillars in the SA metal community, Wian Bester, suffered a horrific tragic loss. Not long after he lost his father to suicide, his mother was murdered on the farm where they reside and Wian and his younger brother Ivan, was left with the financial burden of running a farm with no income or cash flow since all bank accounts were frozen after the death of both parents. As they were left in financial distress whilst experiencing emotional trauma, I decided to launch a fundraising project to aid them during this horrible time. What started out as a personal fundraising request on Facebook, soon turned into our metal community uniting by donating money, food, their time and volunteer services to support the Bester brothers. I quickly gained the assistance of friends and fellow metalheads and decided to make Undivided Legion a permanent entity, specifically orchestrated to reach out and assist metalheads in need. At this time in point our mission is simple: We aim to support metalheads facing severe financial distress and emotional trauma.

Audioinferno: How has support been in terms of donations?

Jo Marie Smith:

Overwhelmingly positive and much more than what we could have anticipated! During the time we raised funds specifically for the Bester brothers, we were able to donate vouchers from supermarkets and money totalling approximately R16 500.

Audioinferno: We hear there are going to be shows to help raise money for Undivided Legion. What gigs do you have planned so far?

Jo Marie Smith:

I love the fact that this question was on your minds as we currently still need metal bands from all over South Africa, and even bordering countries, to volunteer for our gigs! We successfully hosted our very first show at The Rabbit Hole in Durbanville (Cape Town) on 2 December 2017. We had 4 hard & heavy bands (from different metal genres) who were all very keen to contribute with their talents! Thanks to them – Mind The Child, Abaddon, Red Tape Rebellion and Nebula Disrupt – we raised R4 920-00 in door takings. Our schedule for the 2018 events has not been published as yet, as we are still in the process of confirming the line-ups and dates. We can however confirm that it will be loud and heavy, for all the right reasons! We have secured volunteer organizers in Port Elizabeth, so PE in the Eastern Cape can expect something big soon!

Audioinferno: You have referred to Undivided Legion as a foundation to support metalheads in need. What a great idea! Have you seen any other similar organizations form since?

Jo Marie Smith:

In all honesty, not that we are aware of. My love, passion and lifestyle that is METAL, has sparked the goal to keep the initiatives we run, metal orientated; for the metal community, by the metal community. There are so many wonderful organizations out there supporting different causes, but as far as I know, nothing for the metal society specifically and so, Undivided Legion was born and stands dedicated to headbangers.

Audioinferno: For our readers that would like to contribute, how can they do so?

Jo Marie Smith:

Tim at this moment in time, we are still building the foundation, the crew, the sponsors and associates. The easiest way to get in touch with us and to contribute, is via our e-mail address undividedlegion@gmail.com or via Facebook Messenger to our page https://www.facebook.com/UndividedLegion/

We also developed a partnership with Tallon Williams whom is the host of a local radio show, The Rock Arena on One fm 94.0. He airs our information, updates, cause and events on the show every Monday evening from 10pm until midnight. The show can be streamed online: http://onefm.co.za/shows/the-rock-arena/ (8pm GMT) .Here are the links to the three live interviews we have had this far:

It is great to see the metal community lending a helping hand to members in need. The scene needs more people like Jo and more charities like Undivided Legion. Perhaps, if those outside the metal community were aware of the charitable, giving nature of the metal scene, they may learn to view metal and metalheads in a different light and see us for what we really are.

Support your local bands\m/

Tim Salter

I'm a huge supporter of the African metal/rock scene. My interest began with Wrust, Crackdust, and the Botswana scene. Then the Angolan scene caught my attention. Now I want to spread knowledge of the scene worldwide and spread metal in Africa to areas it has not yet reached. Every country in the world needs a metal/rock scene! I have a doom metal project called Doomcast, featuring Victor of Uganda's Vale of Amonition on vocals.

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