Zjakki Willems jumped into the alternative music scene when he saw Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention for the first time. That was at the Palais des Beaux Arts in Brussels in 1970.
Five years later, he started his radio career for the Flemish public radio BRT 2 in the old, iconic Flagey building in Brussels. There he made the… Frank Zappa Story, which was also broadcasted by the Dutch public broadcaster KRO.
In 1984, he started with Tropical on BRT 1, the first world music broadcast of the BRT (now VRT). Nine years later, he began with the alternative music magazine Cucamonga, also for Radio 1. Both broadcasts have won Belgian and European awards.
In 1986 Zjakki was co-founder of the EBU World Music Workshop, which he presided for 11 years. He is also a panel member of the World Music Charts Europe.
When he learned to know Chico Science in 1994, Zjakki became an aficionado of Brazilian music, above all of the music from Pernambuco. This was the starting point for five radio series about Brazilian music: Radio Brasil (Radio 1 in 2000), Radio Mangue (Radio 1 in 2002), Sintonize Pernambuco (Radio 1 in 2003), SamPa Beats (Radio 1 in 2006) and Radio Mauritsstad (Radio 6 in 2009 – French version on RTBF in 2011).
In 2010-2011 Zjakki was the music curator for Europalia Brasil. He also took care for the music part of the exhibition MixMax Brasil, that occurred from 2012 to 2015 in the Tropenmuseum Junior in Amsterdam and that currently runs in Villa Zakapara in Paramaribo.
Zjakki was curator of various Zappa-events, like The Purple Cucumber (1995 in deSingel in Antwerp) and Arf ! Arf ! Arf ! (2014 in deSingel, Cinema Zuid and Petrol in Antwerp).
In 2014, Zjakki did the musical selection for the Secretaria de Cultura da Bahia in Brazil.
He represents Brasil Music Exchange in Belgium and sometimes tours with Belgian bands in Brazil and Brazilian bands in Europe, the most recent being dEUS 2015 in Brazil and Satanique Samba Trio 2016 in Europe.