Donisha Prendergast is a passionate and exceptional young woman who’s living the legacy of her iconic grandfather. Her love for Rastafari and Reggae has inspired her to travel the world, produce music, perform and share her stories with many. While she was here recently to launch Irie Sundays, the latest dub and reggae event by Potato Head Folk and Singapura Dub Club, we caught up with the talented lass as she shared with us the roots and evolution of Rastafari and Reggae music. Oh, and she gave us Sassy Girls some advice on rocking those cool dreadlocks too!
Hi Donisha! First of all, a warm (literally) welcome to Singapore! Is it your first time here and how do you find Singapore so far?
Thanks for the warm welcome. It’s indeed my first time here and it’s been nice vibes so far. Lots of cool people and diverse ideas.
How has growing up in Jamaica influenced and shaped the way you create your music?
As a filmmaker, the pictures and stories that exist in Jamaica are reflected in much of my works. And in turn, I also try to create more positive and diverse images from my travels in my Jamaican productions. I realize the importance of telling our story in a language that is universal, but still true to our experience as Caribbean people whose history has bits and pieces of the world sprinkled into the mix.
Do you think Rastafari and Reggae music has evolved over the years?
The stories that Reggae tells are universal. The freedom that Reggae facilitates through music can now be heard in different languages all over the world. People are now understanding a little more about the context of Rastafari and the reasons for reggae music. We are now looking beyond the dreadlocks, colours and ganja to the root of the history and experience of a people stolen from their homeland, searching for identity in a new world.
What do you love about Rastafari and Reggae music?
The teachings of Emperor Haile Selassie, on which I form the basis of teaching Rastafari culture and Reggae music. It’s amazing how good will always wins over evil. Now the message and experience evolves and changes from each country it moves through. The experience is individual and collective at the same time. Healing and wholesome. A thing you can share with anybody.
How does it feel like being the granddaughter of Bob Marley? How has his music and love shaped you to become the person you are today?
This is always an interesting question to try to answer. Growing up, I never knew that my family was famous but it didn’t matter. The work my family did was good for the world, and that’s how I understood what it meant to be the eldest of the next generation. Works for humanity and pure love. My grandparents’ music has helped to shape many of my insights in dealing with life and the experience of learning and teaching. Still, it isn’t always a welcoming room… my grandfather’s music represents anti-colonial sentiments and redemption songs for many who have known injustice. We just give thanks for life, the sacrifice and the blessings.
You’ve travelled the world a fair bit. Are there any parts of the world that you particularly fell in love with?
I love the Eastern world, where the history of spirit and humanity still exists in physical forms. Art, nature, free thought and hands in Earth. I feel most at home wherever I can drink a coconut jelly or pick a fruit from a tree. Any place where there is time to have a little time beyond the clock.
What do you love most about being a Rasta woman?
The humbleness and confidence I feel all at the same time. Especially when I travel. Even though I’m usually the only Rastawoman on the flight, I feel like an ambassador for something great.
What’s the one thing in the world you cannot live without?
Love, in all its manifestations.
What does being an independent, powerful woman mean to you?
Being independent and powerful means grace in the face of adversity. Women by nature create safe spaces for healing, powerful women can create even more powerful safe spaces.
Describe your personal sense of style.
I can be very sentimental in the style. Like the rings I wear are my Mum’s and my Nana’s and the beads in my hair I have collected from my travels. Earthy, ethnic, royal, feminine, funky, sometimes very random and low key. But there are moments when I get creative and design what I wear. And I like head wear, all kinds.
We love your beautiful dreadlocks! Are they hard to maintain and do you think they’ll look great on our Asian Sassy Girls?
I try to use only the most natural treatments for my hair. But it does get hard to maintain sometimes with the consistent travel, change of weather and access to good food and sleep. But I love my Natty Dreadlocks. And yes I think they would look great on Asian Sassy girls… It takes a while to get them just right, but they bring a kind of defiant beauty, naturally.
Lastly, where do you see yourself in the next five years?
I see myself watching films I’ve been a part of creating, in a home made of wood in the hills overlooking the ocean raising some kids and writing some books. I will still be me, just now my suitcase has some company.
Special thanks to Mango PR for facilitating the interview!