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It’s been five years since Jamaica’s reggae princess hit the music scene, and the genre has never looked back. Now, with two albums under her belt, Etana is a household name worldwide, with a voice and message that soothes and entertains.
Since Etana’s breakout hit Roots, the songbird has found herself as a staple on reggae charts across the globe. Following up with Wrong Address, the Strong One began to build a catalogue of conscious music… and a massive fan base. Increasingly, her music connected with people through relatable messages of love, fighting injustice and prejudice, having pride and more.
“Overall, my music has to uplift. It can’t just be that I go in a studio and string words together. My music must have a message, it must have a purpose. It has to make people feel good and want to really listen to what I’m saying,” says Etana – who was born Shauna McKenzie.
In 2008 Etana released her debut album, The Strong One. It was a hit. The wildly successful debut album, recorded and released on the VP Records label, silenced critics who claimed Etana was a one-hit wonder. In fact, so popular and successful was The Strong One, that every one of the tracks on the album was released as a single – and also charted. The Strong Onefeatured songs such as Warrior Love, Jah Chariot, Don’t Forget, I Am Not Afraid, Blessing, More & More, Caltariba Systemas well as her first two hits Roots and Wrong Address. More than that, Etana had spread her wings and was filling clubs and stadiums in the Caribbean, North America and Europe – and it was a humbling experience.
“Travelling to another country to perform is perhaps one of the most exciting things for me. Especially if it is a country where English isn’t the first language. Being in Portugal or Spain, for example and hearing a crowd of 100,000 people sing every one of your songs word for word is just exhilarating”.
While touring, Etana also picked up a new hobby – collecting award trophies. Since her birth in the music world, she has copped one prestigious musical honour after another. Ranging from Best New Artiste, Female Vocalist of the Year and Reggae Singer of the Year to Most Admired Female Artiste, Cultural Artiste of the Year and several Album of Year trophies, Etana has a sizeable list of accolades behind her name.
Etana began to tease fans with what was to come on her next CD when she released Free, Happy Heart and August Town. Almost immediately, critics clamoured and fans anxiously awaited the release of her sophomore attempt at a full-length album. She continued to record, and in 2011 released Free Expressions. With this, Etana pulled off what many artistes are unable to – a successful second album.Free Expressionsis lining up to be as successful as its predecessor with several of its featured tracks being released as singles.
“This time around, I got really involved in the making of the album. For The Strong One there were a team of writers but it’s pretty much all me and my pen in the majority of the songs on Free Expressions. That was an experience I enjoyed, and I am definitely more into writing these days,” the now married artiste says. Crowds around the world seem to enjoy Etana’s increased input in this album, evidenced by her performing consistently on the biggest reggae festivals and shows around the world. In fact, Etana made her debut in South America in 2011.
“I’ve been blessed with this talent, and I don’t plan on slowing down for now,” she smiles. Etana has one more album to put out for VP Records, and she promises that she’ll try and make it her best work yet.
Official Website: EtanaTheStrongOne.com