Raised in the inspirational hills of St. Andrew, Jamaica, Kelissa developed a natural inclination for music, largely influenced by a Rastafari and reggae upbringing. With parents as lead vocalists in the original reggae band ‘Chakula,’ creation and appreciation of music were constant features in her home.
Kelissa sojourned with her music to Africa where, during extended periods in Tanzania, Ethiopia and Ghana, she had multiple opportunities to broaden her musical scope. During her time in Africa, she expanded her musical abilities by teaching herself the guitar, collaborating with several musicians and producers, and performing on numerous occasions.
Kelissa also spent extended periods in California, where her self-designed college curriculum was heavily involved with music and the arts. She launched her own label and lifestyle brand called ‘Anbessa’ (meaning lion in the Ethiopian language Amharic). She was also an avid member of several music ensembles and gained significant exposure on music production and studio recording. As co-founder of the Black Arts and Cultural Dance (BACD) group on campus, Kelissa created a platform that facilitated her on-going interaction with different audiences and talented young performers from across the world. Kelissa’s unique background and rich international experiences have influenced her music by coloring it with diverse sounds, insightful messages and captivating performances.
Kelissa currently resides in Jamaica and continues to make music her central purpose. Since her return, ‘Anbessa Music’ teamed up with ‘Zinc Fence Records’ to produce her first Extended Play (EP) project, ‘Rebel In Disguise,’ which was first released during her tour of Africa. Kelissa joined two filmmakers as part of the ‘50 Days in Afrika’ initiative. The Trio travelled to 6 countries (Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Tanzania, Ethiopia & Kenya) to document the thriving arts industries on the continent. The tour featured multiple performances by Kelissa in each country, reinforcing her musical foundation in Africa and harnessing cultural exchange. Kelissa was the first Jamaican to perform at the annual ‘Felabration’ festival in Nigeria and shot her first music video for the tour’s theme song ‘Afrika.’ This experience enhanced her exposure in Africa and added to her musical inventory.
Since then, Kelissa’s music has made significant impact on the local scene in Jamaica. She has featured on several major concerts such as Rebel Salute and Sumfest, and since 2013, hosts her own annual concert called Kelissa Live at her home venue, Skyline Levels. Kelissa was also featured on the Irie FM road tour, where she made an appearance in multiple cities across Jamaica. She served as one of the musical ambassadors for the Bob Marley 71st celebrations, and performed at the 20th anniversary of the Smile Jamaica concert. These opportunities have enhanced her local following and enriched her artistry in innumerable ways.
Her performance experience has also extended to the international stage where she has had multiple opportunities to share her music. Kelissa has featured on several tours across the United States, Europe and the United Kingdom. She also recently performed on the renowned Welcome To Jamrock Reggae Cruise, and featured in Vogue magazine as an artist to watch from Jamaica. Her newest project ‘Spellbound,’ a co production between her label, Anbessa Music and Natural High Music is blazing the airwaves with sweet vocals and hard hitting instrumentation. Kelissa’s soulful, rootsy and worldly music continues to provide a reservoir of her life experiences that is driven by her passion to uplift and inspire others.