- Etana (musician)
Infobox musical artist
Img_capt = Etana
Background = solo_singer
Birth_name = Etana
Born = 1985
Origin = Kingston,
Years_active = 2000-present
Label = [http://www.vprecords.com VP Records]
URL = [http://www.myspace.com/etanastrongone Etana's Myspace] Etana (born Shauna McKenzie,
1985, Kingston, Jamaica) is a reggae singerfrom Jamaicawho is being hailed as one of the burgeoning new and sensational sounds in the roots Reggae era. Her 16 song debut album "The Strong One" [ [http://www.etanamusic.com "Etana Music"] ] was released in June, 2008.
Motivated by a desire to deliver uplifting, inspirational lyrics, Etana’s regal countenance, captivating vocals and uncompromising messages of self-empowerment possess the ability to bring about revolutionary changes in
Jamaican music. “I did not choose music, it chose me and for a real serious reason,” says the 23 year old singer, who this year has already received Best Female Vocalist honors at Jamaica’s Excellence in Music and Entertainment (EME) Awards, the IRIE FM Radio Awards, the inaugural Reggae Academy Awards and the International Reggae and World Music Awards held at New York’s legendary Apollo Theater. “When I look at how women are being represented in Jamaican musicand how little girls are thinking that is the way it is supposed to be, I want to be a positive influence and change some of the things they are taught. I take my music seriously and I expect anyone around me to take it as seriously as I do.”
Born Shauna McKenzie, the only girl in a family of boys, Etana grew up in the eastern Kingston community of August Town where she currently resides. Her vocal talent was discovered when she was six years old and was overheard singing along to a 1981 hit by the group
Etana migrated to the
U.Sin 1992. She went on to attend Broward Community Collegewith the intention of becoming a registered nurse but fate, it seems, had other plans. Following her decision to prematurely exit college in 2000, Etana joined a female vocal group named Gift. At the time Universal Recordswas interested in their music so Etana reluctantly agreed to wear the skimpy outfits dictated by the music industry’s pervasive stereotyping of female artists; then one day, she could no longer conform. “We were shooting a video and we had on pink lingerie, thongs and black stiletto heels,” Etana explains, “and the cameraman had the camera in a compromising position. I was wondering what is he looking at? I don’t even know him like that! I was very uncomfortable so I walked out and that was it.”
Etana returned to her Kingston birthplace; music still beckoned but this time, it had to be done on her terms. Etana wanted to deliver dignified, emboldening words shaped by her embracement of
Rastafarianprinciples, which include a royal representation of women, adhering to a natural lifestyle, and an acknowledgment of the teachings of Marcus Garveyand Emperor Haile SelassieI. That opportunity arrived in 2005 when a friend brought her to Kingston’s Fifth Element Records, who were then enjoying success with Richie Spice’s single “Earth A Run Red” and his album “Spice In Your Life”. Spice was heavily booked for American and European tours; Etana auditioned to become one of his backup vocalists and so impressed Spice’s management team, she was immediately asked to accompany the Rastafarian singer on his tour dates. Etana gained invaluable experience as a member of Spice’s entourage performing throughout Europe and North America.
One day, while in the studio with the guitarist and percussionist from Spice's band, Etana put together the song that heralded her arrival “Wrong Address”. Audaciously fusing acoustic folk with roots reggae rhythms and strains of neo soul influences “Wrong Address” was based on the experience of Etana’s aunt being told to lie about where she lived in order to gain employment. The compelling single, which resonated with many hard working Jamaicans who live in poor communities that are further stigmatized because of gang related violence, was duly rewarded with heavy radio rotation, reaching the number 1 position on several Jamaican charts.
Etana’s second major hit “Roots” was inspired by her travels to Africa (her very first solo performance was in the West African nation of The Gambia where she was showered with overwhelming adulation). Produced by Stephen Stanley “Roots” offered a powerful juxtaposition of African percussion and Jamaican patois expression as Etana cautions the youths to maintain their culture: “Yu cyan water down and dilute/yu cyan hide de truth from the youts”.
The remainder of songs on “The Strong One” presents an eclectic mix of Etana’s ideas and influences, which include veteran soft-rock duo Air Supply, the queen of country-kitsch Dolly Parton, the king of reggae Bob Marley and the cultural efforts of Sizzla Kalongi. Another African flavored hit, the romantic “Warrior Love”, the roots reggae Rastafarian anthem “Jah Chariot” and the self affirming soul-inflected “Don’t Forget” were produced by saxophonist extraordinaire Dean Fraser who has won further acclaim for his production efforts on Duane Stephenson’s “From August Town” and Tarrus Riley’s “Parables”.
Etana was nominated for the 2008
MOBO Awards, to be held in October 2008 [Daily Melody, September 11, 2008: [http://dailymelody.politicsandthecity.com/2008/09/11/2008-mobo-nominations-announced 2008 MOBO nominations announced!] ] .
Additional production credits on Etana’s landmark debut belong to Robert Livingston (“Nothing But Love”, “Overcome”), Stephen “Lenky” Marsden (“Wasting My Time”) Kemar DJ Flava McGregor (“I Am Not Afraid”) and Carl James/Joel Chin who collaboratively created the irresistibly danceable beat heard on “Calteribea System”, which Etana explains is “a code word for any system that creates oppression”. “Some people don’t want to face the seriousness and the struggles,” Etana observes, “so if you give them something to dance to with something to think about, it is a better mix.”
Etana wrote almost all of the 16 songs on her album. “Music is supposed to be free like colors in a garden, that is what makes it beautiful so however it comes to me on my guitar, in the morning, or in the evening, that is how I am going to put it out,” she says. And her output is indeed a strong one.
* [http://www.etanamusic.com Etana's Website]
* [http://www.vprecords.com VP Records]
* [http://www.myspace.com/etanastrongone Etana's Myspace]
* [http://www.solidagency.com Solid Agency]
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