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ETANA

Photo by Sista Irie

Arguably the most prolific female reggae vocalist in the present day, reggae singer/ songwriter Etana has struck a chord with the masses, and like any beautiful melody, she is winning the hearts of the people one song at a time.

Spirited in her approach to communicate unfitting and inspirational messages to the youth, she has been described by critics as the truth, one who will bring about real change with her powerful and captivating voice that at times seem flawlessly pure. Rebellious in her approach to denote systematic oppression against all races, Etana takes pride in being an artist. She feels strongly that her responsibility as a recording artist is to express positive vibrations in her music, and from this she will graceful admit to staying the course.

Born Shauna McKenzie, Etana spent her youthful days playing in the hill side community of August Town situated in the South Eastern side of Jamaica. The only daughter of a fairly large family of boys she was as curious then as she is determined now, doing the mischievous things most children tend to do at an early age. She attended school in Jamaica until 1992, when she migrated to the U.S to start a new life in the sunshine state of Miami, Florida. Etana was a budding achiever; she finished grade school and eventually went off to college the year after with plans of becoming a Registered Nurse.

During her studies at Broward Community College, Etana became extremely passionate about music. She was consumed with the joy of creating her own mix of the different genres she would attentively listen to in her earlier years. A hardened fan of Reggae, Pop, Hip Hop and Jazz musicians, she found inspiration in Whitney Houston, Lauryn Hill, Jill Scott, Sizzla Kalonji, Marcia Griffiths and the legend Bob Marley, all of who eventually gave the then academic youth the will to explore a new and potentially more suited career in Music.

In 2000 after making a tough decision to prematurely exit college, Etana attempted a shot at stardom when she joined a girl group by the name "GIFT" which was being courted by Universal Records. Sexy, reviling and conforming to the industry stereo type of how a woman should dress, Etana fell victim to her dreams of becoming a mainstream star. It wasn't her ideal fit, but she conformed to the record labels requests and gave in to her groups glamorous appeal, until one day while on a video shoot for their lead single, she could bear it no more. She walked away from the spotlights and returned to her native place of birth, Kingston, Jamaica. Here she started fresh as an entrepreneur looking to grab a piece of the Cyber Market with an Internet Cafe.
 

Down but not out, Etana still wanted to do music, but only in her own way. She wanted to send out a meaningful message, and portray a more eloquent look. Etana’s pivotal opportunity came in 2005, when a friend brought her to the Fifth Element Company, which was, at the time, prospering from the strength of Richie Spice’s current popularity. Spice was heavily booked for several American and European Tours. Auditioning for a shot at becoming the backup vocalist for Richie Spice, Etana vocally floored his management team, and was handed a plane ticket to do a few shows in the U.S. The ensuing fifteen months enabled Etana to soak up valuable experience as a stage performer in Europe and North America.

Eager to make her own mark, one day Etana started writing her own song with the help of the guitar player and percussionist from Richie Spice's band. The song idea had been floating in her thoughts for weeks and eventually the melody for her debut smash single "Wrong Address" was born. Simple yet effective, the single was a fusion of Jazz and Reggae. The song was the first of its kind, and in 2006 Wrong Address was rewarded with heavy radio rotations plunging it in the number 1 position on several local charts.

Describing her style back then, Etana was quoted as saying "I do music straight from the heart, straight from the soul, straight from the people Isee in everyday life". Then came her second major hit, Roots which was an intriguing mix of African and reggae cultural sounds, fused with Jamaican Creole. The song became an anthem because of the definitive statement "You can't water down and dilute", featured in the chorus.

Video's for these first songs helped bring Etana to the forefront of the reggae world, and during the summer and winter of 2007, she made her mark as a solo artist performing on international events like Reggae Sumfest, Fully Loaded, ATI Live Concert, Irie Jamboree, Welcome to Jamrock and Guinness Sting.

Etana began 2008 with the same high level of focus and enthusiasm, rocking the likes of an Air Jamaica Jazz & Blues Festival. Etana was then awarded Best Female Vocalist at both the Excellence in Music & Entertainment (EME) Awards and the IRIE FM Radio Awards not to mention an award for Best Solo Female Reggae Vocalist at the First Annual Reggae Academy Awards, for which she had nominations in three separate categories.

Currently promoting her new singles I Am Not Afraid and Don't Forget off her recently released debut album - The Strong One on VP Records, Etana is boldly taking on the world of music with the help of her new management team - Solid Agency. Owner of Free Mind Music - The Best Records, Etana is poised to do Reggae proud.

Etana Links:

Etana Videos:

Roots

Wrong Address