If you were to meet Sissta E!, you would think that you met someone who is very shy. She actually is shy and quiet except — when she’s singing. On stage, she uses her voice to elevate anyone that is listening. She uses the “power of Tina Turner" and the “softness of Sade" to carry out her mission to spread joy and happiness.
She was born in London. Her parents, both singers in choirs, moved her to back to their home of Jamaica when she was seven. Mom was lead soprano in church choirs and sang all the time in the home. Dad, lead bass vocalist in the choir, didn’t sing as much as mom did in the home, but there were plenty of family moments where the whole family would sing – Sissta E!, her brother, sister and parents. Mom and dad both would show the children how to sing in certain ways to improve the quality of their sound. Sissta E! always wanted the world to hear her voice, but she was shy and afraid.
Sissta E! also played clarinet and piano when she was a child. But, singing was the thing that she really wanted to do. The breakthrough from her singing shyness happened in her early teen years. One day Sissta E! recorded herself singing. When she played it back, she actually heard her voice for the first time. It was there — a rich, powerful alto voice that was totally her own. It wasn’t buried in the sound of her church choir, nor nestled under her mother’s strong soprano voice and hidden amongst the voices of other family members. It was her, all alone, and it blew her away! She played the tape for her brother. He couldn’t believe that was his older sister. From that time on, she was determined to be heard and left the fear and they shyness behind.
“Reggae music is a part of me…something about the feel, the sound, it just stuck." Yes, living in Jamaica and being exposed to the djays and singers got her hooked. Sissta E! wanted to get into a reggae band. That actually didn’t happen until after she came to the United States.
Sissta E! was still in the practice of recording herself when she sang. One day, a girlfriend was riding with her when one of her tapes were playing. “That’s you! There’s a band looking for a vocalist, you’ve got to go!" Of course, her audition was successful and the band It’za Secret (whom Sissta E! named) had their lead female vocalist.
It’za Secret started out as a reggae band and was the thing Sissta E! was looking for. But then over time as members changed, the repertoire changed. They added rock and roll and R&B. And though Sissta E! was performing, it wasn’t the type of music that was in her heart. It’za Secret had a lot of local success during their time. They opened for Crucial Massive, Cool Runnings, appeared at The Sting, and played at a number of Connecticut clubs. The band had their final performance at the Special Olympics in New Haven in 1995.
Though without a band, Sissta E! kept the desire, kept the faith and kept singing. It was five years later when the MassiV from Crucial Massive invited her to be a part of their band.
I am excited to be part of Crucial Massive. Being with the group makes me feel whole. It’s like the missing piece of the puzzle is no longer missing." She’s always wanted to be in a reggae band – to stay with her root. “They’re doing a lot of things that I love to do." She’s also got a collection of lyrics that she’s written over the years. She’s got future plans to get those words to music. Sissta E! wants to be and will be heard!