INTERVIEW with Etana – March 2014
This Interview is recently published in Irie Magazine Issue #3 which is available for download here:
IRIE. You featured a baby’s cry on the track ‘Till You Get Old (Life’s Gift)’. I understand you discovered you were pregnant with your daughter during the production of the album. Was your decision to include this element to the song inspired by you thinking of the eventual birth of your daughter?
Etana. The song ‘Till You Get Old’ was inspired by me being with child. But the childbirth idea was the producers touch. He felt it completed the story. The song was produced by the NY, “Rellee A Team”.
IRIE. How did it feel for you to perform in Gambia as your first solo performance?
Etana. Junie Star came to me when I only had like two popular songs and said, “I’m gonna take you to Africa”. I asked her how could I go to Africa without a catalog and she said, “don’t worry, you’re gonna go.” When I landed in Africa for the first time, I was happy to not feel like I was entering a strange land. I remembered the immigration officer just opened the Jamaican passport and stamped six months. No questions. When I stepped out, I looked around for a long time at the attire of the people, the smell of the air, the clay roads, the faces of the people to find myself in them. It was a happy experience. Of all the places I have ever been, Gambia is my favorite. The show was interesting and amazing. I remember when coming off the stage the people were trying to touch my hair, my clothes, anything they could grab on to. I cried, they cried. They didn’t know my songs but I had all the time to teach them since I ended up closing the show. It was a wonderful experience.
IRIE. If you could whisper advice to the Etana who had her first solo show in Gambia, what would you say?
Etana. I would say, “There is nothing to be afraid of” because I was so worried about performing after Queen Rita Marley. I would tell her “Africa is home, just relax” and I would have stayed a little longer. Lol!
IRIE. I love your collaboration with Luciano, I Will. Tell us how that collaboration came about.
Etana. I remember Luciano going through an ordeal when it was said he allowed a friend to stay in his house who was wanted by the cops and the friend fired back at the police. It was almost as if the world forgot who Luciano was and never cared about anything he did. I thought of him and wrote the lines, “I will always, always be rising”… Because life continues and you can only break if you break yourself inside.
IRIE. ‘Wrong Address’. What are your thoughts on your first hit single today?
Etana. Ron Muchette came to Fifth Element to listen to a Richie Spice song. He was called into a meeting to give opinion. He asked if they had music from me and he was told it’s not the time and he said he wouldn’t leave until he heard my songs. They played it and he decided he wanted ‘Wrong Address’ alongside the Richie Spice song of his choice. When they wouldn’t give him the song he said well, “I am not leaving without it”. Lol! When he first played that song I thought it didn’t do it for him but by summer of 2007, ‘Wrong Address’ became one of the most popular songs in Jamaica.
IRIE. I absolutely love your song ‘Reggae’. When I think of reggae music I think about the power of reggae music. I believe the music has the power to lift the soul of anyone who truly sits down and listens to the lyrics in the music. What are your thoughts about this statement?
Etana. I agree and I am happy you feel that way. ‘Reggae’ was written like a love letter to Reggae music. Like making love to every instrument.
IRIE. You are not only an amazing musician but a wife and mother. I am always amazed by the strength and power of mothers. How does it feel to have a beautiful family and also pursue your passion?
Etana. It’s not easy but I just do it like Nike. I love Reggae Music and I love my family so the two goes hand in hand.
IRIE. I have been a fan since ‘The Strong One’ thru ‘Better Tomorrow’. I love the positive aura you present to the world. I feel like it is the responsibility of parents to raise their children but how does it feel to be a role model for women and young girls?
Etana: I didn’t ask to be a role model. However I do try my best to live my life as a growing, learning spirit doing positive things to get all the colors of my aura, my rainbow right. I love to inspire and share where I can because I know I won’t be here forever in this flesh but the legacy I leave behind must be of value for generations to come.
IRIE. One of my favorite songs is ‘Free’. What inspired you to write this beautiful song?
Etana. There was so much going on in my life. There was a war going on in August town. My relatives weren’t able to go home. I was going through a change of management a host of other things that made me stronger today. But at the time my pain and their pain came right out in this story. I walked in the studio and say Kemar Flava McGregor playing the track and I started to write. I was so emotional but I wrote the song in about five to ten minutes.
IRIE. I have always supported and admired women in reggae music. It took strength and courage for women to record and fight for the right to express their vision for themselves as artists. What would like to say to the women in the history of reggae music who paved the way for you?
Etana. I’d say, the race is not for the swift but for who can endure. I am grateful for each and every one of them who fought even a little to create the space for women in reggae music because it sure is a very small one. As one person I am heard but reggae is known as , “The reggae boys club”. Lol! Ladies, we have come a far way but we still have a long way to go. Perfect respect and love to all of you.
IRIE. You are now recording your 4th solo album. Are there any details you would like to share with the audience?
Etana. This album is a lot forward in lyrics and vocals. It’s hard and it’s reggae. Very little fusion of other genres. It makes you want to move but the message is always in the music. My favorite tracks so far are ‘On My Way’, ‘How Long’, ‘I Rise’ and a few others. I may as well say the whole album. This one is special.
Nicholas Da Silva – Irie Magazine