Shekinah Ade-Gold, a wandering instrumentalist - Music, art preserve his mental health
As a multi-instrumentalist with the capacity to play wind, string, keys and percussion instruments, Shekinah Ade-Gold, has discovered new ways to overcome the psychological chaos that clouds his mental space.
It has been a long and winding road of struggles, Shekinah tells The Gleaner, of managing social issues and dealing with depression. Recalling his high-school years, he notes that the mental health issues he experienced were related to the inability to grasp certain emotions and reactions, what is referred to as social anhedonia tendency.
“After a visit to a psychiatrist earlier this year, I still struggle with persistent depression disorder. Being unable to emit a happy emotion is not normal, but music helps that. A person can enjoy by way of listening to it or watching someone produce it,” he says.
There is no denying that emotions are relayed best in song. He adds, “People draw for a song or a beat when they have a particular memory. There was a point in my life when I had to reassess life and reboot my brain and I thought how can I repair what is already damaged?”
Shekinah sought music as an outlet of expression, participating in the choir at school and various competitions. Currently he freelances with artistes, bands and other musicians including Jermaine Edwards and Duane Stephenson.
He describes himself as a wandering spirit, “one who wake ups each day and goes with what is happening”, sometimes finding a place to release the artiste who is captive within him.
Placing his saxophone case on a park bench at The University of the West Indies (Mona Campus) while walking in circles as he blows a tune, may be characteristic of Shekinah’s eccentricity but to him, it is a regular day.
He says, “Somewhere that is close to nature creates the best atmosphere; it’s not just home to a school. Even before finishing high school I found myself inside the campus gardens, ruins, by the chapel or anywhere I could find a seat.”
As far as the 24-year-old knows, that act of search and discovery is the best means of therapy. Whether a saxophone, trap set, tambourine, guitar or keyboard, Shekinah finds a way to explain his feelings with them when words cannot.“Practising to perform in a space on my own, for me is not about knowing the composition of a song or hitting the right notes or the mere act of rehearsing, but also learning the way to enjoy the song being played and how to connect to people while delivering it. I want people to feel,” he explains. “There is no real music therapy facility in Jamaica, it all comes down to how an individual uses music to restore or bring a healing result, and for me it has helped me to hold on to my sanity because, to be honest with you, life does not make sense without it.”
He lends his talents to the Quilt Performing Arts Company (QPAC) and has also been part of the Masters in Residence Cohort 2 with Grafton Studios.
While the social settings of QPAC are not what a musician like him would set out to do, he says, “the music draws me in, there is a lot of drama and dance, but music acts to weave everything together in terms of acting a storyline.”
He concludes the interview by stating, “This country can be healed by all creatives, and all industries will, over time, be impacted by creatives, but there is a need to learn how to market ourselves productively.
“I don’t think we explore enough of our emotional range as a people and it impacts the decision-making process and how we treat people, place and time … once we figure that out.”
October 10 is recognised as World Mental Health Day; share your story to make people aware and be an advocate against social stigma.