Wednesday, 3 July 2013

HAVING IT HER WAY: Miss Kitty discovers new strength and savours the sweet smell of success

WE ARE FAMILY: With Cliff Hughes on the Nationwide rooftop at the launch of Miss Kitty Live.

The early afternoon sun is ablaze over the rooftop at Nationwide News Network on Manning's Hill Road, and Miss Kitty is said to be on her way. Today, International Reggae Day and the first of July coincidentally, marks the debut of Miss Kitty Live, her afternoon show on Nationwide that's doubly reuniting her with her Jamaican listeners and the Nationwide clan. 

When she saunters into the building, a few minutes before the show's 2:00pm start, in a brightly coloured ensemble, complete with shades, a lush do and a fully made-up face, her arrival sets off a flurry of squeals, hugs and kisses and first-day good wishes, plus a show of support from celeb pals like Emprezz Golding and Ce'Cile Charlton.

But fortunately all the commotion seems to evaporate once the producer places the microphone in her hand. Show time.

It's not been quite a decade since Khadine 'Miss Kitty' Hylton etched her place in the cultural consciousness, earning renown for her mix of vivacity, eloquence and cool sister-next-door appeal that has taken her from radio (Nationwide, RJR) to TV (Magnum Kings & Queens) to bookshelves (Good Girl Gone Bad) and, as destiny has designed it, back at Nationwide.

For onlookers, it would appear that Miss Kitty's life has come (or, better still, is coming) full circle. "I feel very grateful, very humble," she tells me during a commercial break. "And I want to thank God and my team and my mom and all the fans who have been with me over the years and relentlessly cried for my return." 

It must be noted that Miss Kitty Live is a joint venture between Nationwide and the New York-based Link Up FM and can best be described as a fantastic medium for the radio diva to maintain a firm bond with her local and US-based fans. So how does she respond to the chatter that she's now a dual citizen? With a laugh, of course, and this impossible phrase: "I am 100 percent Jamaican. I just hop here and there." 
By all accounts, Miss Kitty's relentless drive and ambition are (perhaps) chiefly what draw people to her. Not to mention her natural gift for the spotlight and her media savvy that long ago left a lingering impression on people like her boss Cliff Hughes. "Kitty is a rare talent, who is able to combine several unique abilities to make people laugh, to make people cry and to edutain people at the same time," Hughes observes. "That's her gift. She's authentic and she's genuine and that's going to ensure her success." 

To wit, if there's one significant and relatable thing Miss Kitty has had to grapple with constantly on her path to success, it has to do with managing her stress level. "There will always be things in life that happen to us. Stress is a factor, and when mi stress mi can't eat," she emphasizes. "As human beings, we go through things. We all have our stresses and our Gethsemane. But we have to try as best as we can to get over it. For me, it's about going from stress to success." What's her secret formula, if such a thing exists? "I just work hard and sleep. That's what we do." 

For the record, Miss Kitty doesn't consider her recent shedding of a few pounds as "weight loss," as some have quickly labelled it. "I call it the redistribution of fluff," she notes, "because I am fluffy for life." So here she is in her fab, fluffy and healthy 30s: Jamaica's sweetheart, the seasoned broadcaster, published author, hilarious comedienne and the prodigal daughter who's found her way back home -- and welcomed with wide open arms. 

Miss Kitty knows just how fortunate she is (in times like these, to boot) and she's vowed never to lose her endearing sense of being grounded, even as she continues to evolve into upgraded versions of her gorgeous and talented self. "I will endeavour to be the best that I can be," she says, making direct eye contact. "It's about going from strength to strength, and being the best Miss Kitty that I can be."

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