Review: Kelissa LIVE at Skyline Levels 2015

Kelissa LIVE 2015
Skyline Levels Continues to Present Top Jamaican Artits.
© by Christian Moll

Since the newly renovated venue returned to Kingston’s live music scene from the summer break with Chronixx’s birthday concert five weeks ago, it continues to host the prime league of Jamaican reggae artists. Last Saturday, Jamaica’s best-kept secret Kelissa flooded the audience with loads of African vibes tied with words of encouragement and wisdom all wrapped into an excellent musical performance. Catching up to the spirit of Chronixx’s birthday bash, it had symbolic character when Yaadcore bussed “Smile for me Jamaica” immediately before the show started. When Fame FM’s Radio Diva and host of the event Nikki Z invited Carlton “Bass” Jarrett on stage and he started his Bass guitar piece “Love me Still,” I knew there was absolutely no better way to open the show. Drowned in picturesque harmonies of Bob Marley’s “Is this Love,” the audience began to sing along “I wanna love you, and treat you right,” while the band joined in one musician after another. After Carlton invited on stage the technically equal and sophisticated singer Alicia Taylor, the performance culminated in a majestic intro, perfectly appropriate for the stage appearance of this night’s queen, Kelissa.

Determined to take a stance, she set the motto for the evening with the powerful chorus “Wake up my people we got work to do” and the equally motivating “Keep my Head up.” Incontestably, a motive of strength and seriousness flowed from the stage during the performance of these powerful anthems. Highlighting the need to redefine the place that women have in this world and the still ongoing inequality between men and women in most sectors of everyday life, she said “there are so many issues that we need to address and to face up to. Even if a man feels uncomfortable with what I’m saying tonight, look into yourself, why are you uncomfortable? Change starts with us.” While the applause was still ongoing, Kelissa grabbed an acoustic guitar and tuned into a mellow acoustic version of “Feel it Coming.” It is the depth of her nature combined with the urge of expression that is so fascinating about this young and strong female artiste. The gentleness of this song gave the audience time to let her words sink in and at the same time prepared them for Sevanna’s appearance on stage. She too, reminded everyone that “there’s a queen in every woman and we have to redefine the way we think of ourselves.” “Wait a minute,” said Kelissa, abruptly stopping the band from playing, “we are queens, we need crowns!” With those words every female on stage was equipped with a golden crown symbolizing the royalty and divinity of all women. In her next song, the lovers rock hymn “Best Love,” she quoted “Turn your Lights Down Low” and therewith gave the romance in the place the finishing touch. Subsequently, Kelissa questioned the conditionings we get from school and society that sometimes let us think we are better than other people and then played the matching song “People,” also as an acoustic guitar solo. When her final chord fell silent, the band created a bombastic dynamic contrast by entering into a jazzy African style riddim.

Supported by the three percussionists Hector, Cespo and Jones, Kelissa spoke about how three years in Tanzania raised her awareness for African identity. Quoting Chester Higgins Jr. she said “We are not Africans because we are born in Africa, we are Africans because Africa is born in us,” and thereby encouraged everyone to embrace the rich African heritage and educate themselves about Africa. “We are all kings and queens and we come from royal lineages, great empires like the Kush Empire, Egypt and Ethiopia.” The next two songs “Try Jah Love” and “Selassie I Way” shook up the audience from that African trance and took everyone back to Jacks Hill, where this musically and spiritually intense show took place. Suddenly, Alaine entered the stage out of nowhere and the two female reggae artists set another manifest of women power with Alain’s song “Stronger.” Dre Island and Iba Mahr blessed the audience with “Bless My Heart Oh Jah Jah,” and eventually Chronixx and Kelissa’s brother Keznamdi rocked the stage with “Winna” and “Gideon.” The last guest appearance of Kelissa LIVE 2015 was no other than The Voice-winning superstar Tessanne Chin, who reminded the audience once more not to give up easily and embraced Kelissa before she left the stage; definitely one of the most epic moments of the night. When Kelissa closed the concert with her most famous single “Best Kept Secret,” it became clear that she is not talking about herself in that song. Her performance that night made it very clear that she has already gone too far to be considered a secret any longer.
Although the line-up and the location of the concert were once again undoubtedly breathtaking, it wasn’t these things that determined the recurrent motive of strength during this amazing show. It was the persistence that is inherent in Kelissa’s music and personality to urge important issues and make strong statements in an attractive and intelligent way that fascinated the audience on this mystic night at Skyline Levels in Kingston J.A.

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