Empresses + Queens: Talking with Trinidad’s Queen Omega + Kushite


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LU: Is it tough to gain support and maintain respect in such a male-dominated field?

Omega: You have to know what works for you and once your livity could match up with your music, they can’t come around you. I started early, at a time when there were few strong female voices to set the course or order. I could have taken that as a negative but my mom called me “Queen” from birth. So I always carried myself like I was a woman of power. Now, I feel like I have bridged the gap and get that respect from Sizzla to whoever you want to call. [Laughs] I get the respect from all dem man dem as we say.

Kushite: It had times that are so stressful and people discourage you. As a female artiste, you get so much fight down but you have to be Royalty. People wake up in the morning and meditate on you and your music. And when I feel shy, it’s sistrens that are coming up to me saying they love what I do. I remember coming offstage after opening for Midnite and [turns to Queen] you came up to me and said “Don’t stop what you doing!” I didn’t even know you knew me. Those moments push you through.

LU: Let’s talk image. You expect women in Rastafari to carry themselves a certain way but we have seen even you Omega put down a lil’ Trini wine in shows…

Omega: [laughing] I can’t help that. The first time I did it, even I felt like “What on earth am I doing?!” but it didn’t feel wrong. Sometimes when I performing I have moments when the Trini takes over, but I would say it’s the African. Because it comes from that. We in Trinidad may be the best at doing it in the Caribbean but it is African dance so it’s also mine and sometimes the vibe calls me to do it but it’s not overdone and it’s so rare that I feel it’s okay. I also have songs that sing about sex but it’s how you put it across. You could do it without offending. I have a song on my fourth album with Buju Banton that speaks to bedroom behavior. It’s an adult song. So I have those songs. I am a woman and I have my sexy side too.