Jacinth "Shakki" Cao Biography
A Typical Shakki Performance
Jacinth 'Shakki' Cao was born and raised in the village of Upper Cayon on the Caribbean island of St. Kitts. For as long as she can remember, all she simply wanted to do was sing; and indicated this to her father when he asked a pre-school aged Shakki what she wanted to do when she grew up. Perhaps, then, it is of no surprise that her journey down her career path began at age four, and that like many famous artistes, her talent was nurtured in and inspired at church.
Shakki's elementary and secondary years at school witnessed her frequent performances at talent shows and daily morning assemblies. Such opportunities served as the impetus for the development in her vocal skills and stage presence. By the time she was 16, while enrolled at the Cayon High School, she was already engaged in a 12-month stint with a hotel band called Damanju, which proved a vehicle for greater exposure and wider fan base. Later, as a solo artiste, Shakki embraced music stages on a national level where she met and was encouraged by promoters to pursue a career singing R&B. It was noticed that her vocal repertoire had now included smooth and sultry tones. However, despite the appreciated recommendations, Shakki chose to stay focused on Caribbean-flavored music, her favorite being soca, and her dogged persistence subsequently earned her the chance to perform in soca bands on the islands of St. Kitts, Nevis and Anguilla.
In 2002, Shakki recorded her first hit song 'Drive' with the Grandmasters band, which clinched her first soca monarch title during the 2002 St. Kitts-Nevis carnival events. This achievement allowed her the opportunity to represent her country in the 2003 International Soca Monarch competition held in St. Lucia. In the summer of 2003, she realized her first performance at the annual St Kitts Music Festival. During 2004-2005, Shakki's quest for higher levels of musical success came to fruition when she and her bandmates of the Ultrasonics won the 2005 Nevis Culturama-road-march title. This achievement was two-fold: her second hit song 'Sun or Rain' clinched this title, catapulting her into the Federation's history as the first woman to win this title.
By 2006, Shakki's hunger to improve vocally and lyrically and to broaden her experience on an international level, took her beyond the shores of St Kitts-Nevis. She met and performed on several occasions with the 'Betta Band' and the 'Mussington Brothers' of Anguilla. Later that year, she was approached by Steve "Steba" Dublin about returning to her homeland and joining the then newly formed band, d'Vybz. The harmonious blend of writing, singing, and musical talents along with the easy camaraderie and energy of its members really impressed her to join the group. This synergy is what prompted her signature cry, 'Ah feelin d'vybz!'
The band's debut album in 2006/2007 featured three songs sung by Shakki. The most popular of the three, 'Hello', received numerous rotations on several radio stations in Trinidad and Tobago. Trinidadians, as well as other neighboring countries, wrongly assumed that this song was a product out of Trinidad for their own carnival season. Nonetheless, this implicit commendation from the larger islands, which have been prolific sources of international artistes, was quite an honor for this small island songstress, the band, and her fans. Meanwhile, her current hit song and title track, 'Doing It Right (2009', has been receiving rave reviews worldwide as it strikes a chord with the movement that promotes safe sex.
During the non-carnival-like seasons in the Federation of St. Kitts-Nevis, Shakki diligently works to become a household name at the international level. In the last three years, she has been a consistent performer at an annual popular show during the Miami Carnival, and she has wowed crowds with her energetic performances at numerous events in New York City. She has also performed in the winward island of St.Vincent & the Grenadines.
Of her many achievements to date, her 2008 track 'DJ Play', kept the number one position for five weeks on the countdown for Caribbean Hits at VibesFm in Sheffield, England. Additionally, Shakki's track, 'My Life', from the band's 2008 album garnered 'a pick of the best' monthly feature, and thus was endorsed by the popular Dancehallsoca organization. Such accolades by this entity with its enviable affiliations only helped Shakki garner the greater exposure that she seeks. But!, the crowning jewel of these achievements was the qualification for and selection of three of her tracks, DJ Play (2008), Like Doves (2009), and Bouncing Train (2009), for a Caribbean Series Compilation by Promo Only Inc, whose clients include Walt Disney, Universal Studios, MTV, and the Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. Shakki's tracks are featured alongside top artistes such as John Legend & Buju Banton in 'Can't Be My Lover', Beenie Man in 'Gimme Likkle', Serani in 'No Games', and Daddy Yankee in 'Que Tengo, Que Hacer'.
Off stage, Shakki prefers a quiet, humble, and low-keyed image. However on stage, she transforms to a captivating, energetic artiste who always keeps the crowd moving. Consequently, she is often dubbed 'the small lady with the big voice'. With her eye catching hairstyles, and her provocative outfits, Shakki always manages to keep her audience's attention. And, whether she's singing smooth and sexy lyrics, or getting you to 'wave your flag in de air', she never fails to connect with her audience. Keep an eye out for this rising star.