Sista Sensi has dreamed of Jamaica since she was a small child in Wisconsin. She says she told her famiy at the age of ten that she would live in Jamaica. By 1974 at the age of 22 she had made her dream come true and went on to spend the next ten+ years there. She said she was blessed to arrive at a time when reggae was exploding on the island. Bob Marley, Marcia Griffiths, Judy Mowatt, Rita Marley, Jacob "Killer" Miller, The Mighty Diamonds, the great Joseph Hill and Culture, Wailing Souls, Mutabaruka the great reggae poet, Lloyd Parks and We The People Band featuring the one and only Dean Frazer...Sensi observed and absorbed all of that beautiful music.
In 1975 Sensi lived in a room above the renowned Banana Boat Club in Montego Bay.She was surrounded by Jamaica's music royalty. The house bands were the Sonny Bradshaw Orchestra and alternately Byron Lee and The Dragonaires. The singers were fabulous...The Mighty Sparrow, Lord Laro, Wilson "Boy Blue", steel drums by the great Cabot Paul. Once again, Sensi reveled in the wonderful music. She was allowed to sing there only once onstage, but she was a regular at the daily rehearsals.
Starting in 1974 Sensi also learned about and observed several Jamaican religions, including "Revival"(Pentacostal), "Pocomania" and Rastafarianism (Ethiopion Orthodox) all of which she says taught her to "live up".
In Sept. '75, Sensi rebuffed the advances of a very powerful man associated with The Banana Boat. So it was no big surprise to her when she was arrested the following day at a hotel with her "dread" boyfriend for possession of a ganja "spliff-tail" or in US terms, a small "roach".But she was shocked when she reached Summit Police Station (a former hotel which had been "nationalized" by the then Socialist government) and saw her suitcases waiting there for her. They had been brought down by the police from the "hill" (mountain) where she was living at the time. She knew then that the man she had refused had set her up to go to jail. She was convicted of "Possession of Ganja" and fined $400 US or four months in jail.
Sensi spent 2 1/2 months at the notorious "14" which is the nickname for the centuries old Montego Bay jail located at 14 Barnett St., Montego Bay. The floors were dirt, she slept on a concrete slab and used a bucket for a toilet. Her ex in the US sent her the $400 in care of Barclay's Bank in MoBay. It wasn't located until 3 1/2 months later. Sensi, who now weighs 118 lbs and is 5'3 inches tall is and was then a vegeterian. She soon began losing weight on the diet of "chicken back" and week old bread. She says she ate the bread and looked forward to the occasional porridge and vegetables. She says she "learned to chat Patwa (Jamaican language) and sing reggae". She sang reggae through the grates of her steel cell door along with the other inmates. The back wall of her cell butted up to the sewer line at Creek St. There was a small opening which rats used to climb in and out of. At night in the pitch black cell Sensi would wake to find huge roaches, millipedes ("40 legs"), chinks, chiggers and the occasional rat crawling on her. She sang and she prayed.
Eventually she succumbed to fever from multiple bites. She was taken to Cornwall Regional Hospital under police guard and placed on a "drip" (IV antibiotics). When she went back to "14" she became feverish again and soon a decision was made. She was transferred to the General Penitentiary in Kingston, Jamaica to serve out the remainder of her sentence. At that time "GP" was part men and part women with a small concrete wall dividing it. Sensi worked in the garden until her fevers came back. She spent the remainder of her time in the Infirmary. Her missing $400 was eventually discovered at Barclay's Bank in Kingston and she was sent back to the U.S. When asked about it today Sensi, completely drug-free since 1987 says simply "I nearly died for a plant that God chose to grow in the ground". Reflecting, she says she is "glad for the experience, it made me strong".
Not one to give up easily, the little redhead returned to Jamaica three months later with her Boa Constrictor "Jake The Snake" whom she smuggled in her "grip" (suitcase) inside a pair of pantyhose. She joined the Entertainer's Union and began what was to be a nearly ten year career as "The Great Snake Lady", perfoming at many of the island's best hotels and venues with Clifton "Miko" Blanco and his dance troupe, Los Tropicanos. She was able to raise her daughter Kaya Star until age five in Jamaica at which time she returned to school her daughter in America. She married not one but two Jamaican husbands, both of whom she helped migrate to the US. She is still friends with them both today. One was deported and is back on "the hill". The other has been working steadily and is near retirement. He plans to retire in Jamaica.
Sensi kept right on singing. She sang and toured with many reggae bands, opening for King Yellowman, Burning Spear, Steel Pulse and many more. She toured the country with reggae legends like Yabba Griffiths, Dread-I. Allah Dread and others. But she always wanted to sing her own original tunes and have her own band. Finally she formed Sista Sensi and The Buds, which morphed into the B Easy Band because "the guys didn't want to be 'The Buds' ".
Sensi has been recording, writing and performing ever since. She has released two CD's, "Blaze It Up" and "My Jamaica" and many singles. Her music can be heard on Reverbnation and CdBaby, Amazon, etc. She and Jake (who by the way she brought back with her and is buried under her apple tree) also starred in a movie filmed in Jamaica starring Gene Hackman, Joe Pesci, Rutger Hauer and more. It is titled "Eureka" and is available on Amazon.com. Sensi has released two singles with the great King Yellowman "Just My Imagination" and "Frosty The Dopeman" and one with the incompareable Josey Wales, "Loving Pauper" the old Dobby Dobson tune. She is also proud of the song "14" which she wrote about her jail experience in Jamaica. Sensi has been featured on Jamaican television (TVJ) singing on "Smile Jamaica".
A victim of domestic violence and child abuse from a young age, Sensi also is proud of her song, "Cuz I'm A Woman" which tells the story of that dark side of her life.She is a staunch feminist and has donated use of this song to several domestic violence groups. Her song "Frosty The Dopeman" has been donated to NORML (the National Organization for Marijuana Legalisation). Although she no longer uses marijuana she feels strongly that it should be legalised.
Sensi is also a veteran of 3 cheating husbands. She has for the past twelve years owned and operated a detective agency, "A Roving Eye Detective Agency" which has a website, www.arovingeyedetective.com and a Facebook page, A Roving Eye Detective/Facebook. They specialize in catching "cheaters" and Sensi enjoys it immensely and says she likes "helping people". Her music page on Facebook is Sista Sensi Music and her website is www.sistasensi.com. She can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org and is available for shows, backing vocals, collaborations and tours. She can be seen performing in Negril next month through April. She has been held up by a badly crushed shoulder from being bucked off her young horse in September but she thanks God every day for her life and remarkable ability to bounce back. She says her angels "have to work in shifts' so they don't get tired.