INTERVIEW: Tanya Stephens, Forever Vocal

We Can Always Depend on Tanya to Tell It Like It Is
When it comes to the reggae/dancehall genre, the competition is fierce—and mostly dominated by males. There is no shortage of female artists however, holding their own and showing their prowess. Many come and go, while a select few have earned their veteran stripes. Dancehall divas like Tanya Stephens. Known for not pulling punches or holding her tongue, Tanya’s fans can always count on her to tell it like it is. Straight!
I caught up with Tanya recently for a brief one on one conversation. As usual, she kept it extra-real. Seet yah! Interview After The Jump
Shilo: Years ago I did a full length feature with you for A whole lot has changed since then. So, wha gwaan Tanya?
Tanya: I grew a little further up! LOL… Since then I released a couple of albums, did some touring, moved house a few times, both professionally and personally, opened a bar and restaurant, closed a bar and restaurant! 🙂

I am one of your facebook friends and look forward to your status updates. You always have something that makes us think, debate or smile. Ever thought of writing a book?

I did think of writing a book. In fact I wrote it! Just somehow haven’t felt compelled to release it yet.

Well, it’s not too late. I was listening to one of your CDs this morning. I love lyrics and a well written track.  Where do you draw from for lyrical inspiration?

I’m very inspired by life, and I refuse to pretend so I say exactly what I feel when I feel it! I think it’s stupid to “put the best outside.” Who do I care enough about to lie to impress? Nobody!

What is Tanya working on right now?

My new album Guilty is finished and ready for release. [Check the single “Fire Burning” here.] I’m at the stage of making music that I like the least… we’re about to embark on promotions.
What has been a high and a low for you in this business?
Thankfully there has been MANY highs but I cant identify anything negative that was significant enough to be a “low.”

Does the ‘male domination’ of the industry affect you in any way?

The industry is male overrun but not really male dominated. What we lack in numbers we make up for in potency. Besides, i’ve never come across any male that really challenged me compositionally.

Boom! Ever thought of a career in politics? Mi bun politics y’know, but you are a socially conscious individual with a lot of wisdom to impart.

Fortunately for me I bun politics too! LOL! I wouldn’t go into politics in Jamaica. Even if you are honest when you go in I seriously doubt your ability to remain honest in a society with such low standards who will vote you out if you try to raise them! I consider myself more useful trying to raise awareness using all the other forums available to me outside of politics.

So, Jamaica turned 50 this year…nuff celebration. What are some of the things you noticed that could have been done differently to really give us something to celebrate?

Spending less on celebrating would be a practical quick start. Investing in academic and social education has always been my idea of improving and truly liberating any society. A more aware society will make the necessary changes to advance us to a point worth celebrating!

How do you see the state of our music business…cause mi can’t honestly call it an industry.

Depending on what encounters I have throughout the day I go to bed with different opinions of the jamaican music scene. Sometimes I feel like we are our own worst enemies with our antiquated ideas and biased views but when I listen to the more talented young artistes I know everything is going to be fine.

This part of the interview name ‘talk up’… This is where you get to voice anything you want to say. Unsensored!

The two things scaring me most right now is the fact that a police officer shot a pregnant woman dead stemming from her use of “bad words,” and a few children got kicked out of school for stuff ranging from ridiculous to insane. Both incidents bring to focus the lack of reason with which we approach problems. One would think the purpose of the education system is to take in the unlearned and unrefined/uncultured and turn out gems! Obviously not. We prefer it the other way around: gems in, rocks out! Also, I really hope we get over our obsession with words soon. At least, before the JCF completely wipes out the entire population. News flash: pregnancy has adverse effects on the emotions and temperament, and even the most demure pregnant woman is prone to a few bumbo-raasclaat outbursts every now and then!!!!
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4 Responses

  1. Nice work Shi…. as usual Tanya pulls no punches and Shi you were smart enough to stay out of the way so she can express herself. I just wish more folk would give Tanya a bigger platform. My first encountered with Tanya, back in the 1990’s in hotel Lobby in Florida where she , myself and Courtney Sinclair had a 4 hour conversation on the state of reggae. She is no less impressive now that she was then. I just wish she had a bigger platform. Her perspective both from a female point of view and generally is very needed

  2. Boomshots says:

    Agreed Stan… Just wish she would release that book she’s written!

  3. Shilo says:

    Jah know…totally agree. We need that book!!!

  4. maurice kingston swagga says:

    madd interview shilo, Tanya is one of my favorite artist period, man or woman no matter the genre of music…did she say when she gonna release her new album? cant wait for it, i need me some Tanya Stephen 🙂 Tanya its a pity me alreadi have a wife and yuh have a one man inna yuh life or else me woulda marry yuh rite now, quick fast 🙂

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