Fri | Feb 3, 2023

Kazayah switches it up but keeps it ‘Sweet’

Published:Sunday | April 3, 2022 | 12:09 AMSade Gardner - Staff Reporter
Kazayah’s debut EP is scheduled for release this year.
Kazayah’s debut EP is scheduled for release this year.

Wherever you see Kazayah, you just may see flowers.

She explained that the nature theme symbolises her growth as an artiste, and she’s surely blooming on her new single, Sweet.

Produced by Wadadah II, Jinda Singh and Lance West, Sweet shows a different side of the usually roots-reggae-inclined singer, and centers around the “sweet” effect of good music.

“I was in the studio one night and Jinda and Wadadah were working on the rhythm and I was just sitting there on the couch talking to myself,” Kazayah told The Sunday Gleaner. “The chorus came and filed in, and then, when it came to the verses, it really was a free-flowing thing. We were in the studio all night and the whole thing was like a freestyle vibe.”

The visuals premiered on March 25 with vibrant colours, a sound system set up, and flowers, of course.

“I’ve been getting a lot of love,” she said. “I was a little interested to see how the feedback would be, seeing that this is one of a kind in terms of style and what people are used to getting from me … . I hope it reaches wherever it reaches, and makes whoever needs to feel good in the moment, feel good.”

Sweet is the second release from her I Am Kazayah debut EP, scheduled for release this year. The first single, Mr Sunshine, premiered three months ago.

“This project is an indication of growth,” she said. “I’m formerly known as Princess Kazayah, so it’s like a reintroduction of myself and shows a different level of maturity, from vocals to sound, to just growth overal l… . This project is showing that we are multidimensional. For me, it doesn’t matter the genre I do, as long as the content is positive and everybody can ‘fulljoy’ themselves.”

DEEP MESSAGE

The five-track set came together with Wadadah II and Jinda Singh back on production, as well as Zaddy Wadadah I. Kazayah also served as a composer, and the musicians included percussionist Hector Roots Lewis, keyboardist Koriq, drummer Dada, bassist Lance West, and background vocalist Zhayna France. It will be distributed by Tuff Gong Worldwide.

“I think every song on there is important, but there are some songs that have a very deep message that can really help people and are very important in these times. I would just want the music to reach as far as it can and to help as many people as it can.”

Kazayah, whose given name is Shanelle Mitchell, was born in the United States to Jamaican parents. She recalled singing as a child but never seriously pursued a music career until 2014, motivated by the words of her brother who transitioned two years earlier.

“I was always around music and he asked me ‘why aren’t you out there doing your thing and performing?’, and I didn’t know what to say. I give a lot of my credit and respect to him because those words stayed with me and pushed me forward, even to this day. I know, in the flesh, he would be my number one supporter.”

Her journey has seen her as a background vocalist before stepping more into the spotlight, something she pointed out as a difference between Kazayah and Princess Kazayah.

“I would ascribe Princess Kazayah to being more shy and, I guess, not as sure as Kazayah now. The content and stuff is still the same in terms of upful, positive lyrics. It’s just you’re going to be seeing more of me in-depth and the versatility that I have.”

Based in Chicago, she is gearing up for several show dates in cities like Philadelphia and Illinois, as well as gracing the stage with Ziggy Marley in August at Musik Fest in New York.

“The rest of the year is really to keep promoting and sharing, and then really get in gear for these dates that I have coming. This is a major blessing in my life, so big up Ziggy and Tuff Gong for seeing the potential in me.”

sade.gardner@gleanerjm.com