Etana Restores Visibility to Women In Reggae Music

Etana is the 4th Woman to be Nominated for A Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album

The announcement of Grammy nominees in the Best Reggae Album category, always sparks a lively discussion. This year is no exception as the field includes Black Uhuru’s As The World Turns, Protoje’s A Matter of Time, Sting & Shaggy’s 44 x 876, Ziggy Marley’s Rebellion Rises and Etana’s Reggae Forever. Etana’s nomination is particularly noteworthy as she is the first woman nominated in the the category since 1997, when Sister Carol’s Lyrically Potent earned a nomination. The two other female nominees were Judy Mowatt and Rita Marley. When the Grammy Award ceremony takes place on February 10, will Etana become the first woman to ever win a Grammy Award? More After The Jump

“I’m excited, it’s my first independent project that got nods from a powerful group of people as the Recording Academy.  To be nominated is so awesome, just for my work to be acknowledged, in this way. I have to thank Tad’s International Records, they worked so hard and are still working hard as the distributors of this album. Gramps Morgan was so influential to the creative process for this album. Tarrus Riley and Tanya Stephens who collaborated with me so closely. Jesse Adelman and all of the writers and producers on this project. Everyone who participated in putting this project together, can share this same joy with me.

I am happy to be able to share this with my fans.  It means that the door is now open again, to women in Reggae, after 21 years.  I think women have come a long way and I know we have a long way to go, but strides are being made, doors are being opened and that’s incredible.”—Etana (on her Grammy nomination for Best Reggae Album)

Reggae Forever, The Album

Etana executively produced her fifth studio album, “Reggae Forever,” with her husband, Andre Morris. The partners in life and music, boldly distributed the album independently with Tad’s International Records. This allowed her to be “Free,” fan favorite on “Reggae Forever,” written in collaboration with Songwriter, Jesse Adelman. Adelman wrote three songs with Etana for this album, “Free,” “Soldier,” and “Fighting for Nothing.”

Songwriter Jesse Adeleman Performs Live with Etana at the Reggae Forever Album Launch in New York City

“I met Etana in 2011, I was in a band at the time and a new songwriter at VP. We worked on “I Rise,” so when she contacted me last spring about this new project, I flew out to Kingston within the next few days. Etana is in general, is a person that believes that everyone is the same underneath, she has so much love for everyone. It was easy to come together and come up with melodies, core progressions because she is already so inspired. The song “Free” came about when she missed her flight to Kingston, and then came over on a roll over flight. She called me and said “Now I’m Free,” and that was the birth of that tune. “Fighting for Nothing” and “Soldier” are songs that reflect her view of what’s happening around her and that she is a soldier for love.” Jesse Adelman

Etana worked with young producers, such as Rymshot and J-Vibe, as well as C. Danny Breakenridge, a veteran producer at Tad’s Records and sought Clive Hunt for advising when it came to this album’s reworking process.

Etana performs with guitarist, Almando Douglas

“I just want to say something. You know when I was starting out people told me if I am going to sing Reggae, then I would have to wear my hair in locs. I would also have to make it “Pop” as a woman with big jewelry and short skirts. But I was always of the mindset that you have to be around me to feel me and get to know me and when you do, none of that matters or will matter. I’m following my heart, if my heart says, its ok. When I sit in the stillness of silence, I can see what I need to see.  You don’t have to look like a celebrity. I just need to connect, heart to heart. Every poor man look pon me and you know what, they accept me for who I am and I accept them too. We are one, no one is better than anyone else. We are together in this life journey. Thank you for accepting me just as I am. I appreciate you all here, I appreciate those who are listening, talking, buying and supporting my music. I put my soul into this project and I hope you can feel me.” –Etana (Reggae Forever Album Launch in New York City)

Stepping out on faith, working with new and established producers, helped her to remove all fears in her creative process. In “Reggae Forever” Etana connects with her global fans in a loving tone, with conversational lyrics.

Etana approaches the listener, with a full transparency, going from bold to vulnerable, in her lyrics. The result is a well-deserved Grammy –nomination (past female nominees in this category include Judy Mowatt (1986), Rita Marley (1992) and Sister Carol (1997); there have been no female winners in this category), restoring visibility to women in reggae music, after two decades.

“I could not have done it without Andre Morris, who always knew even when I didn’t,” Etana stated when informed of the honor. “Tarrus Riley who’s always there cheering me on and pulling me up if I slow down, Gramps Morgan who believed in my latest independent project Reggae Forever. Tads Records—both Tads Senior and Junior—all the musicians, vocalists, Jessie Addleman, Khambrel Mcpherson, and advice from Clive Hunt. When I thought my project was finished he sent me back to the board LOL! Love him forever.”

Etana continued, “Tanya Stephens, Dean Pond, JVibe, Kirkle Dove, My mother who’s always for me and my girls no matter what, all my relatives and family members who put their all in, Keona Williams, Claude Mills, Heavy D, Anthony Sewell, Courtney MAC, all the the disc jockeys and my whole team. Thank you for your hard work!” Of course Etana has always received staunch support from longtime reggae ambassador Sharon Gordon and the Coalition to Preserve Reggae Music.

Photographs by Roland Hyde

Written By: Angel Love @LoveDeepAngel

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