– Concert Review –PHOTO: International musician Kaissa performed at the Touhill on Oct. 17. Photo by Rob Sifford for The Current 2014 ©
By Jill Hardy, Staff Writer for The Current
International artist Kaissa mesmerized the crowd on Friday, October 17, at the Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center with her collection of upbeat temple melodies and powerful, sultry ballads. The concert was sponsored by the University of Missouri-St. Louis’ International Studies and Programs department and the International Performing Arts Series Performers, which is comprised of many different organizations.
Kaissa’s voice is as smooth as silk and her style is a myriad combination of several different genres of music. At first glance, one notices her all-girl band, which is a melting pot of women from around the world. Later a male musician was introduced who performed on the bongos throughout the evening.
While performing upbeat songs, Kaissa danced across the stage in beautiful African attire in orange and black. She also enticed the audience to get up on their feet and take part in the action. She really knows how to involve the audience and create a personal experience for them.
Kaissa is from the the culturally rich Republic of Cameroon, which inspired some of her musical style. She was also raised in Paris, which inspired her artistically too. In her own words, “I grew up in a tapestry of artistic expression.” Many of her songs convey a message that comes through loud and clear although her songs are performed predominantly in French.
The first song “Oa” is a testament to overcoming betrayal and deception and becoming stronger as a result of that experience. Kaissa sings about topics and issues that are universal in nature. This makes her artistry so relatable.
She is also an activist through her music. Before performing her song “Nengue Dipita,” which is about female genital mutilation (FGM), she spoke against the procedure and the traditions that support it. FGM is a tradition that was more prevalent in the ’80s that took place among different groups in Africa and among African residents in the country of France. Many people from Senegal, Ethiopia and other countries of the continent of Africa performed that procedure due to tradition. The song that she performed about FGM was so moving and emotional. It really expressed her vocal range and ability. The performance was illuminating.
Kaissa also takes on politics in her music as well. In the song “Essimo,” Kaissa sings against false prophets and politicians. This song was particularly personal to her because her father was taken away from her family when she was 9-years-old due to political reasons. “Essimo” is a song about freedom. It is also, a very powerful and moving interpretation.
Kaissa brought the blues in “Makal Ma Mbasi.” That song will take one to the middle of Beale Street mentally, any day of the week. “Ntylo Ntylo” was more of an island sound with island rhythms. It was very fun, light and free.
She also got personal when she performed a song about appreciation in honor of her mother who supported her music career while her father was against it. She also belted a ballad about the loss of her sister with all the emotion of a woman who has lost someone who she loves deeply.
Kaissa’s music is as diverse as her audience and her delivery is impeccable. Her talent is undeniable. What she does with the voice makes her second to none. She does things with her voice that clearly separates her from other artists. Kaissa is truly a world-class act and we were lucky to be a witness of her talent.
© The Current 2014