Words by Tishanna Williams, Photos and Video by Ravi Lloyd
After catching up with Etana and Jah9 in Jamaica, “Empresses + Queens,” our series spotlighting the often-overlooked role of women in reggae, moves over to the island of Trinidad for a conversation moderated by our Tishanna Williams.
On a recent visit to Gasparillo, South Trinidad, LargeUp had the honor of orchestrating a sitdown between the country’s Queen and Princess of Reggae, Queen Omega and Kushite. The two singers’ energies connected immediately, and we had a great evening, sharing stories of life and womanhood—as well as a freestyle session you can watch below. Even better, the interview was a real family vibe as Omega introduced us to her children who played while the ladies (who, coincidentally, both belong to the tribe of Zebulun order of Rastafari) spoke about experiencing life, love, and the ups and downs of the music business.
Queen Omega has been working as a singer since her teenage years, and is now one of the most recognized reggae female artists in the Caribbean and Europe. By her early twenties, she had already collaborated with Sizzla, Capleton and Buju, to name a few. She’s toured with Luciano, Anthony B and Richie Spice and performed on major festival stages including Sierra Nevada World Music Festival in the US; Jamaica’s Rebel Salute; and Rototom in Spain. Having just returned from lighting up stages with Etana and France’s Mo’Kalamity on the Queens of Reggae European tour, Omega is now on tour in South America, and preparing to release her fifth album next year.
Kushite made her debut performance at Tobago’s Reggae on the Beach a mere two years ago, but has already appeared on shows featuring acts like Chronixx, Tarrus Riley, Midnite, Barrington Levy, Maxi Priest and Super Cat, on her way to becoming a serious name in roots reggae. She plans to drop her first album next year.
Being at two different stages in their bright careers, we can be sure their experiences have been quite different. Or have they been? How much has really changed for the Empresses brave enough to balance personal and public life within reggae and Rastafari?