Kelissa ready to share her journey
It’s hard to imagine Kelissa McDonald choosing a career other than music given it has been an integral part of her life from childhood.
Born to a talented family of artists and musicians, it seemed inevitable that the Jamaican reggae singer would add another chapter to her family’s musical legacy.
“I was born and raised within a reggae environment with my two parents (Errol and Kerida) as lead vocalists in the roots rock reggae band called Chakula,” Kelissa told Lifestyle.
“I have been singing and creating music for as long as I can remember; recording vocals on my parents’ children’s album Save the World, attending music classes throughout childhood and later recording my own written music in my early teens.
“I decided to do music professionally after leaving school in 2011.”
The Rastafarian has recorded one album, Spellbound, and numerous singles to date and featured on several tours across the United States, Europe and the UK.
Her music has made a significant impact on the local scene in Jamaica where her name has become synonymous with the reggae revival movement.
She is among young, conscious artists such as Protoje, Jah9 and Chronixx offering a new take on traditional reggae by drawing heavily on personal experience.
“My music is rooted in reggae music and all its sub genres like dancehall, ska, rocksteady, dub, etc,” Kelissa said. “But, it has also taken on the identity of my living and travelling experiences.
“I enjoy experimenting and learning new music and with the advent of the internet, we now have so much exposure and access to music from all over the world. So, I definitely sing and play other genres, and love fusing it with my native music.”
Kelissa is grateful for those who have helped her along the way.
“At every point of my journey there have been mentors who have encouraged and guided my steps,” she said. “My family has been my biggest pillar of support and strength along with the most high.
“I am thankful for everyone who offers words of encouragement, advice and support in their own unique way.
“From family to fans, industry professionals to other artists and musicians, they all contribute to my journey in music in more ways than one.”
Kelissa’s travels have also taken her to Africa where she took advantage of the opportunity to broaden her language skills.
“I was blessed to live in Tanzania for about three years,” she said. “Though I am not fluent, I learnt how to speak Kiswahili, which is the widest spoken language in Africa.
“This Bantu language can be found in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Congo, Mozambique and more. I also had the opportunity to travel and live in other countries on the continent such as Ghana, Ethiopia, Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya and Mali where I was exposed to other native languages such as Twi (Ghana) and Amharic (Ethiopia).”
Local reggae fans will get the opportunity to see the artist perform in the annual Cup Match Summer Splash, along with Chronixx, at the National Sports Centre on August 1.
“I have never been to Bermuda before, but I look forward to visiting this beautiful country and learning more about the rich history,” Kelissa, who earned a degree in liberal arts at Whittier College in Los Angeles, said.
“Anytime the musicians and I touch the stage, we always bring our best and play our heart out.
“It’s what we love to do and, since it will be our first time there, we are especially looking forward to visiting and performing in Bermuda.
“Whenever we sing and play reggae music, it is always geared towards the emancipation of mental slavery and raising the frequencies and awareness of the ones who listen. The purpose always remains the same no matter the occasion.
“Reggae music is loved all over the world, so I am not surprised that Bermudians also love reggae.
“We are happy that the people of Bermuda also gravitate to this special music.”
Also included in this year’s Cup Match Summer Splash line-up are reggae stalwarts Johnny Osborne and Beres Hammond who are performing July 28 at the same venue. Tickets for both shows can be purchased at People’s Pharmacy, 27th Century Boutique, Kit ‘n’ Caboodle, Hunt’s, Belvins, Jazzy Boutique, Freshmens, Pulp & Circumstance, Audio Visual Somerset, Somers Supermart or online at bdatix.bm.
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