Community worker: Gavin ‘Djata’ Smith will perform at the Bermuda Society of Arts on December 27 along with Langhorne Slim and Daniel Frith. visit Smith is pictured with the Chewstick mural of Nelson Mandela. *Photo by Nicola Muirhead
Community worker: Gavin ‘Djata’ Smith will perform at the Bermuda Society of Arts on December 27 along with Langhorne Slim and Daniel Frith. visit Smith is pictured with the Chewstick mural of Nelson Mandela. *Photo by Nicola Muirhead

Gavin ‘Djata’ Smith is Executive Director and Founder of The Chewstick Foundation, a charity that empowers storytelling, creative expression and social justice to enrich, youth, arts, culture and community.

Known for its open mic jam sessions the charity also offers programmes for artist development, collaboration and social integration. As a singer/songwriter, Smith has a passion for the arts and a genuine interest in empowering Bermuda’s artists to speak with their own voice and cultivate a unique Bermudian style and flair.

Smith will be performing at the Bermuda Society of Arts along with Langhorne Slim and Daniel Frith on December 27 and Chewstick will be having its anniversary event at City Hall on January 3 and 4, 2014.

He and his wife of ten years, Jenille, have a nine-year-old daughter Eden. 


When did you last laugh out loud?

The other day working with Bermemes, Dem Biez, Najib and Mike Hind on the new Christmas song, we had a ball!

Your earliest memory?

Cha. That’s a tough one. The earliest I can think of right now is fishing with my parents off the dock down Jew’s Bay. I caught my first fish — a Black Joe.

What were you like in school?

Grades-wise I was always a solid C student lol! Around school I guess I mostly tried to fly beneath the radar tending to gravitate towards the not-cool kids but being cool with everyone. Didn’t always work though, I became Head Boy at Port Royal Primary School and the first International Student Homecoming King at St Johnsbury Academy in Vermont. In between there I also got caught up doing a pack while at Berkeley Institute.

If you were given a million dollars tomorrow what would you do with it?

First I would bring some much needed financial stability to my family. My parents, siblings, wife and I have had some challenges that that type of dough could really help. Second, I have a business that I’m currently developing that with a decent investment could really help it to take off globally. Though they say don’t use your own money in a start-up, I don’t always agree with that. Having your own skin in the game creates a clarity that can really focus you.

Who is your hero/heroine?

People are so complex, and I tend to focus on aspects of individuals that I like and am inspired by. To name a few — on a global level I love Kanye (West) for his incredible work-ethic, tenacity, creativity and boldness. On a more local level I really respect Wendell Brown for his business acumen, humbleness and kindness to people, I also really respect my bredrin Marc Daniels for his journey, we’ve know each other since we were kids and to see him mature personally, professionally and politically is inspiring.

Your greatest fear?

Not having enough time on Earth. I’ve done a lot, but there’s still so much I want to do.

Most embarrassing moment?

One time I saw this ace girl I hadn’t seen in a while, and she had put on some weight, but I thought she was pregnant. To make a long story short, I don’t shout “congratulations” and go for the hug when they tell me they aren’t pregnant anymore.

Your most unappealing 

I’m terrible at staying in touch, professionally and personally. It’s something I really have to work on and I know it irritates and disappoints people at times. I just get so focused on projects sometimes it’s hard to pull away.

Describe yourself in three words...

Passionate. Creative. Curious.

Anyone you’d like to say ‘sorry’ to?

My wife for always being distracted by my community work.

Biggest regret?

Not having more children. Kids are awesome and I wish I could afford the time & money to have a lot!

Closest you’ve ever come to death?

Swimming with Tiger Sharks with Neil Burnie. He’s the guy.

Your desert island song?

I’d really just want my guitar.

What animal would you be and why?

It’d be pretty cool to be a bird, I would love to fly.

If you had a time machine, where would you go?


Your most memorable dream?

I used to have this recurring nightmare about battling a bear in my house. 

Most unpleasant exchange you’ve have had with a person?

Trying to bring stability, safety and positivity to the Chewstick space has led to many unpleasant exchanges. One time almost ending in a fight. First and only time I have ever been that heated.

Best advice you have ever taken?

Go to college and do what makes you happy.

If you weren’t Chewstick’s Executive Director what would you be?

I would like to think a multi-platinum recording artist, lol, but realistically, I would probably have developed a Graphic Design & Marketing company.

Nicest thing anyone has ever said to you?

Your song made me cry.

Define romantic love.

The act of doing something to show your appreciation for a mate.

Most treasured possession?

Probably my computer, it’s got so much in it!

A dream location for a home?

On a mountainside in Africa, driving distance from the beach and snowboarding.

What keeps you up at night?

Ideas. I get ideas all the time and tend to obsess over them until they take form.

Guilty pleasure?

Vanilla layer cake from Pizza House. They know how I feel about them.

Favourite film?
Romantic: Fall (1997), Comedy: Tropic Thunder, Epic: Lord of the Rings, Documentary: The Two Escobars.

Your proudest achievement?

Taking The Chewstick Foundation youth programme ChewSLAM overseas to represent Bermuda at the Brave New Voices Poetry & Spokenword Festival.

Most important lesson life has taught you?

Never give up, but don’t be stupid. Trust your instincts. It’s okay to make mistakes, forgive yourself and forgive people.

What would you most like to be remembered for?

Helping people and helping the community.