Articles Comments



By Howard Campbell—-

THE African continent and culture has inspired musicians and writers for centuries. It was no different for singer Kelissa McDonald who lived and studied there for three years.

Her time in Ethiopia and Ghana was the inspiration behind Rebel In Disguise, a six-song project. McDonald told the Jamaica Observer that her African experience broadened her outlook on life.

McDONALD… coming back to Jamaica after five years has been about reconnecting with my roots

“It has really moulded the way I treat people and helped me understand the African roots of Jamaica,” she said.

The 21-year-old McDonald recently returned to Jamaica after five years abroad. She also lived in Los Angeles where she earned a degree in Liberal Arts from Whittier College, before going to Africa as an exchange student for a semester at the University of Ghana (at Legon).

Last year, McDonald was part of the ’50 Days In Afrika’ tour along with Donisha Prendergast and Mykal Cushnie. The trio did dates in Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya and Ethiopia.

The songs on Rebel In Disguise, including Africa and Gideon (the latter is done with her brother Keznamdi) have a pronounced percussive element, an hallmark of music from the continent. Another track, Babylon Is Burning, is stripped-down roots-reggae, a beat she has appreciated since her childhood.

For McDonald, it was important to fuse the sounds of Africa and Jamaica on her first major studio project.

“Rebel In Disguise has been a rising for me. I went for a live, very African-inspired sound,” she explained. “Coming back to Jamaica after five years has been about re-connecting with my roots. Being away, I have a greater appreciation for the music here.”

The dreadlocked McDonald’s personal roots are steeped in Jamaican music and arts. She is the daughter of Errol and Kerida Scott-McDonald, backbone of the progressive reggae band Chakula, who live in Ethiopia. She is also granddaughter of A D Scott, arguably Jamaica’s greatest architect.

Kelissa McDonald debuts her songs from Rebel In Disguise Saturday at the Live From Kingston show in Manor Park. Ky-Mani Marley, Protoje, Jesse Royal and Nyla (formerly of Brick and Lace) are also scheduled to perform.

Written by


%d bloggers like this: