BBC calls her latest work her most “vocally subtle and seamless album to date.” And VIBE magazine has said she has already “established herself as a formidable performer and songwriter whose music and reputation precedes her.” But who is Etana? S2S got an exclusive interview with the acclaimed reggae artist to find out what the hype was about.
A Jamaican-born artist, Etana said her mother played country music every Sunday; the singer was also a fan of Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Gladys Knight, Bob Marley and Air Supply.
Etana found out she could sing when she was 7 years old, but she was often bored in her high-school chorus class. In fact, growing up, Etana always wanted to be a doctor and she later enrolled in college in Florida as a nursing major with plans to eventually earn a medical degree. One day, though, the singer walked out of her college psychology class and left school to pursue music as a singer in an R&B/Rock girl group by the name of Gift.
The four-member group lived, rehearsed, and performed together for two years before Etana decided the group was not right for her during what she felt was a risqué video shoot with revealing clothing and exploitative camera angles. Etana shared, “If that’s what I had to do to do music I didn’t want to do it at all.”
For years, Etana stayed away from the spotlight, doing back-up vocals, and touring with Richie Spice but eventually, she wrote a song, which became such a huge hit she had no choice but to consider being a solo artist.
Surprisingly, she found out she was pregnant while recording her newest album and kept it a secret. She said the pregnancy might have even made it easier to come up with emotionally vulnerable lyrics.
Etana hopes her music will bring change to Jamaica and stop political war and violence in her town. She said the album it is totally full of inspiration. “It makes you rock; makes you think,” she said. “You can drive for hours to it. It was done with one producer, and so it is one story from start to finish.”
Tour dates will be released later this month.