Progression is a process. It's every artist's pursuit. From painter to poet, the end game for every creative is the manifestation of the truest form of themselves. This pursuit is lofty, yet it is the driving force that pushes artists to continue their movement forward.
Makeida Beckford, known by her stage name Keida, has blossomed before the reggae world's eyes. Originally from Bull Bay, Jamaica, Keida burst on the scene with her hit "Jamaica Boy" in 2009. This single instantly gained popularity and remained a favorite with DJs all over the world. She then released singles throughout the next few years, showing her versatility on tracks such as "We are the West Indies," a song that complimented a campaign to revitalize cricket on the islands. Yet, this song was significant, as it showcased Keida's crossover potential and proved that, no matter the vibes, Keida adapts and manages to keep her signature sound intact.
Her most recent release, Ebb and Flow, is her best and most complete work to date. It's rare to listen to an album and feel as though you are picking up something "real" from an artist; songs that let the listener in on something personal through struggle, understanding and feeling. These things come across in Keida's album and still have the world craving the artist's vibes. Check out "Mad World" below to hear the singjay's ebb and flow:
We were excited to explore these themes and more with Keida when we sat down with her for a recent interview:
KINGSTONTOLA: Your sound and style are unique in today's music coming out of the Caribbean. Who are your biggest influences both musically and socially?
KEIDA: As an artist, both vocally and visually, I draw influence from many different aspects of life and people's experiences, but when it comes to influential artists, I have been largely impacted by artists like Sade Adu, Roberta Flack, Tracy Chapman, Sister Nancy, Bob Marley and ... I could go on forever. Socially, I look up to people like Russell Bell (a great mathematician and youth advocate), Emperor Haile Selassie I, and, of course, my parents, Jamaican fine artists Owen Beckford and Michele Gauntlett.
KNG2LA: Your message of peace and unity are central themes to your music. How do you stay grounded in that thought process?
KEIDA: Well, I was taught to speak things into being, so I try to use my music to focus on the positive, even by sometimes highlighting the negative, as a means to bring awareness to some of the things we can and need to change. For question two, you need to capitalize on what's happening globally. With the current global affairs, I'm constantly reminded of the need for a message of peace and unity. World events and, in particular, civil wars, terrorist activity and hate crimes, inspire me to continue spreading this message of love and unity in the face of divisiveness.
KNG2LA: Your songs draw on several influences: roots reggae, calypso and R&B. How does the writing process begin and how are styles chosen? Does your writing dictate the sound?
KEIDA: Each writing session is a little different. Some songs can be born out of reasoning with self or another person and just having a concept that resonates with me, while other times, the song may be influenced by the feel and sound of the riddim. I usually start off by listening to the riddim and just writing what it makes me feel. The way I deliver the lyrics all depends on the message I'm bringing across.
KNG2LA: Are there any causes that you are currently championing? Are there any social causes that you would like to get the word out about?
KEIDA: I'm an ambassador for R.E.A.P., an in-school, environmental program encouraging kids to learn about the impact they have on their environment. I would also like to continue to use my voice to champion a message of love and unity, instead of tyranny and terrorism, as I did in my recent song "One Love."
When we interviewed Keida, the singer was about to embark on her tour stop to the 32nd annual Reggae on the River festival in northern California, our home away from home. Keida blew the crowd away with two special guest performances during the festival. She ignited the crowd as she joined Jesse Royal and his band onstage. The chemistry and vibes between the two talents was obvious as the crowd grooved along to the duo's collaboration.
While the crowd was taken through a journey of hits by dancehall favorite Kranium, Keida joined him for her second perfomance and showcased her singjay skills, much to the crowd's delight. Their performance was one of the best dancehall contributions to the festival.
Flexibility and progression, two things that define artistry, also define Keida. Impressive is her movement through musical styles and the stage. We look forward to what she blesses her fans with next!
Listen to one of our favorite singles from Keida's Ebb and Flow EP titled "One Love" here on KingstonToLA:
Images courtesy of Parker Bartlett. All rights reserved.