Based:  Johannesburg

Denay is as a South African award -winning musician, writer, performer, educator& cultural practitioner. She is completing her Masters degree in Cultural Policy and is co-founder;  former CEO and creative director for SA’s phenomenal Rainbow Academy. .

Denay Willie is celebrated as an award winning South African cultural practitioner; performer; educator; activist and industry leader in the cultural and creative industries. She graduated top of her Faculty as Gold Medallist in her Honours Degree in Jazz Performance and Arrangement from The University of Cape Town and is a 2007 finalist for the SAMRO Overseas Scholarships Competition and winner of two SAMRO awards in the Jazz/Popular Music category.

Her work as a performer, singer, and composer-arranger in China, Cuba, Mexico, Europe, Northern Africa, Turkey, and South America covers some of her extensive career highlights with prolific performances for Nelson Mandela; Quincy Jones; President Fidel Castro; Yehudi Menuhin; President Jacob Zuma and host of other dignitaries and celebrities.

Her work as adjudicator, activist, agent and educator extends to roles in both national and international boards. She is also the curator of music shows and festivals and wrote and co- directed original text for “The Cape Town Show”, an original work exploring the diverse and complex political history of Apartheid South Africa.

Denay’s impact in South African arts is featured in the debut South African Documentary “ Women In Arts” by the Mosadi Media Peace Centre. (2017).

Denay is also the co-founder; Ex CEO and Creative Director (2010-2017) and board member for the award winning and internationally acclaimed Rainbow Academy. The Rainbow Academy is a NPO School of Performing Arts and Business aimed at providing recognized platforms of education, employment and empowerment for talented but socio-economically challenged youth in the Creative and Cultural Industries.

The Rainbow Academy is the recent recipient of the 2018 South African Business and Arts Long Term Sponsorship Award for contribution to the arts and broader community

Denay was selected to attend the United Nations “Nelson Mandela Peace Summit” at the UN Headquarters in New York in 2018 as civic leader and ambassador for The Rainbow Academy. She currently lectures music at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg and is completing her final year of Masters in Cultural Policy and Management. (2020).

Denay is a recipient of the DAC Heritage Bursary Award (2019), National Arts Council Scholarship (20200 and Wits University Post Graduate Merit award (2020) for her research in business model innovation, the impacts of digital disruption and the role of cultural entrepreneurship within the future designs of the creative and cultural industries- particularly in the global South.