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8-year-old Kaiya Mack gives back through song

In her new soon-to-be-released video, eight-year-old Kaiya Mack displays her precocious side as she defies her mother and heads out to a party.

The video, set to her remake of Sean Paul and Sia’s “Cheap Thrills”, shows Kaiya putting on her fancy dress and heading out to a night of fun with her friends.

The song is the latest in a series of remakes Kaiya has done over the past year.

Among her catalogue are remakes of BTS’ “Dynamite” and “Last Christmas”.

Kaiya began performing at the age of three after she saw Jamaican artiste Tarrus Riley on stage aboard Damian Marley’s Jamrock Reggae Cruise.

“She said I want to make people happy like Uncle Tarrus. It was a kid’s perspective so for her, singing and performing is like making people happy,” said her father Jonathan Mack, who took his family on the cruise at Marley’s invitation.

Jonathan, a Trinidadian who produces concerts and festivals, said his daughter was so inspired that she sang for people on the ship.

Back home in Hawaii where they live, his daughter continued to be inspired by reggae music, singing the songs on Buju Banton’s Til Shiloh album that he had playing in the car.

When her father did a concert in San Francisco featuring the likes of Afro B and Sizzla, Kaiya wanted to perform and did a cover of Buju’s “I Wanna Be Loved”.

“She doesn’t have that fear of the crowd. She does Hawaiian dancing and when I did a show with The Chainsmokers, she did a Tahitian dance performance in front of 12,000 people,” Jonathan said.

With COVID_19 cancelling all of his events last year, he took the opportunity to spend more time with Kaiya, one of his three children and record her in their home studio.

His friend J Vibe, a Grammy-nominated reggae producer works on the songs.

The first one was a recording of “Dynamite” and the video was shot by a videographer in Hawaii.

“I showed the video to Walshy Fire and he said I should do a Christmas song with her so we did a reggae remix to George Michael’s “Last Christmas”,” he said.

While Kaiya’s videos are fun and entertaining and allows her to do what she loves, she is using her music to make others happy by raising funds for various causes.

One of them is the Ronald McDonald House Charities in Hawaii. To date, Kaiya’s videos have helped to raise US$10,000 for the organisation as well as families needing assistance for medical causes.

It was the Ronald McDonald House that helped Kaiya at a time she was fighting for her life.

As a baby, she spent five months in California where the organisation covered the family’s room and board and gave them support as she battled a condition called Gastroschisis.

Gastroschisis is a birth defect in which the baby's intestines extend outside of the abdomen through a hole next to the belly button.

Jonathan said they found out about Kaiya’s condition during an ultrasound but had never heard of it.

“It was like being struck by lightning,” he said.

“We went home and started researching and you see the saddest of pictures. We spent like a week crying and we said let us just figure out how to handle this. We looked for innovations, reached out to the Boston Children’s Hospital and the Stanford University Hospital. We got into Stanford and when she was born they did the surgery immediately and put the intestines back in but the next day her lungs failed because there wasn’t room in her body for the intestines so they had to take it back out,” Jonathan recalled.

Kaiya has had several surgeries since to fix her intestines and at the age of six, she had her last surgery to remove her gallbladder.

She has been fine since.

Thanks to her father, Kaiya has met and performed for stars like Cardi B but while she loves entertaining, she also has expressed a desire to be a scientist.

“She says she wants to be a scientist but I know she wants to sing and perform too. She is singing every day. In the last month, she has written 10 songs by herself. She is impressing me with what she is coming up on her own but as a parent you don’t want to force anyone you just want them to be happy,” her father said.

And while she loves reggae, she also loves soca and counts Olatunji among her faves since he has a song called “Kaya”.

Jonathan said he would love to work with Kaiya to give back to the Caribbean community and is currently exploring causes to support.

Get to know Kaiya Mack via her website.

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