‘Reggae music has saved me’ - UK-born singer repatriates to Jamaica
Growing up, Teshay Makeda's mixed Caribbean home in the UK was always filled with the sounds of Dennis Brown and other reggae legends.
The sounds came from the playlist of her Rastafarian father from Trench Town, St Andrew, while her St Vincent and the Grenadines mother kept the sweet aroma of Jamaican curry seducing their senses.
With this ital upbringing, Makeda concluded that her decision to become a musician was fate.
"I know that if I didn't have it (music), I don't know who I would be, where I would be, if I would even be here. I feel sound is a very important thing. Music is everything, it saved me. So for me, specifically reggae music has really saved me," said Makeda.
She said she has been singing since about age seven but made the conscious decision to be an artiste about seven years ago.
"I wasn't happy. I was working in hospitality around people that I didn't necessarily resonate with and part of a culture that wasn't mine," she said.
"So I took a trip to Ethiopia where my grandfather, God rest his soul, repatriated, and I just knew that I needed to do some soul searching and it was just like yeah, music is what you needed to do and let's get away from being so afraid of your power and write the songs and allow yourself to move through that. So I just took a leap of faith."
After returning to the UK, she quit her job and began visiting open mic nights, which later helped her decide to move to the home of reggae.
She told THE WEEKEND STAR that given her lack of connection with her Jamaican relatives, and doubts about how she would survive on her own, she initially hesitated.
"It was actually the water that called me. I had a friend that came out here and she just posted a video on Instagram and I just felt the sea being like 'you need to be in Jamaica'," Makeda recalled. "That was in August and so I was just like, I'm just gonna sacrifice and trust that when the signs do come, you just have to follow them and I've been here since the end of November."
Describing her repatriation to the land of wood and water as a beautiful challenge, she explained that being a solo female in Kingston required some adjustments. She does not walk the streets at night like she did back in London, and there have been challenges getting vegan food.
"On the artiste side of things, Kingston is a vibe. The performances that I've done, I've just been shown so much love. I feel really loved and welcomed here and to be honest, there was a big fear for me coming out here, especially my mother not being Jamaican. So there's a little bit of like, some things that have come up in my personal life so I wasn't sure if I was gonna be accepted, you know," she reasoned. "Just all of these identity things because I do come from the UK, I do not speak patois and I haven't been here for 25 years, so there's a lot of things. But I'm very, very, very grateful for the embrace that I've been shown, the love for my music and the opportunities that have just naturally aligned."
She is currently peddling her eight-track debut EP, Omega Mother Goddess, that encapsulates her 'roots-soul' sound. Makeda said the project is honouring the long suppressed feminine aspect of life, of divinity, and of God.