Q&A: Grammy Award Nominated Reggae Artist, Etana

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Grammy Award-nominated reggae artist Etana recently announced her 2019 tour in support of her album Reggae Forever. The album received wide accolades including a Grammy Award nomination for the “Best Reggae Album” category, which makes her the first female in 21 years to be nominated for that award. The last time that happened was in 1997 when Sister Carol received a nomination.

We wanted to learn more about this rising star so we reached out to Etana to discuss what it felt like to be nominated for a Grammy; why she describes the reggae music industry as a “soccer team”; and what the music scene is like these days in Jamaica.

How does it feel to be the first female artist nominated for a Grammy in 21 years?
Having five albums that have all rocketed to the Billboard Reggae Chart is impressive. Being the first female in 21 years to be nominated for a Grammy Award in the “Best Reggae Album” category is monumental. The last time that a female was nominated in the category was in 1997 when Sister Carol received a nomination. I’m a reggae artist who wants to preserve and grow our music and to promote love and inspire, so that it makes way for endless opportunities for reggae artists to have.

How far do you think women have come in the Reggae genre?
Women in reggae have come a long way but we still have a long way to go and I intend on breaking as many closed doors and barriers as much as possible.

You’ve described the culture in the reggae music industry before as being like a “soccer team.” Can you explain?
Males in the reggae music business are somewhat and sometimes intimated with female reggae artists. They can get eagerly forthcoming about little things including their preference to male reggae artists being first or who gets to perform first … things like that.


What’s the music scene like in Jamaica?
There are many festivals in Jamaica that take place each year. Jamaica has a reputation for reggae music but that is not the only genre that you’ll find in Jamaica. There are other genres that are popular in Jamaica.

Jamaica’s most vibrant genres of music are reggae, jazz, ska, and dancehall. It is featured in restaurants, bars, clubs, lounges, events, and at festivals. If you visit Jamaica, you’ll get to listen to authentic music in the neighborhoods for sure. It’s a blast!

Can you tell me about the recording of Reggae Forever?
After accepting that I had to choose the musicians and songs on my own, topping the previous album, I Rise, was my biggest challenge. I’m always trying to create a better and stronger album each time I set out to do an album. At the same time, I want my audience to be able to see growth and for them to be able to recognize where I am in my mind and spirit while recording the new songs. Recording Reggae Forever was fun. This album has a bit of everything for people to connect with. I’m happy to see so many audiences loving the album as much as we do.

What was it like to have Reggae Forever leap to the number one position on the Billboard Reggae Chart?
I’m proud of all my albums. Reggae Forever was my first independent project. I was extremely happy when I learned my first independent project made it to number one on the Billboard Reggae charts and was nominated for a Grammy Award for “Best Reggae Album.” The album is distributed by Tad’s Records. I think audiences appreciate that Reggae Forever was independently produced, it’s eclectic and the main message is love as well as it tells many stories and keeps the listener engaged.

What are you most excited about with this latest tour?
I can’t wait to see my fans in the U.S. and internationally. And, I can’t wait to see new fans as well. It’s going to be an amazing tour!

Facebook: @OneEtana
Instagram: @EtanaStrongOne
Twitter: @EtanaStrongOne

Having released albums under Digital Nations, a label founded by Steve Vai, music critic Louis Raphael has remained deeply connected to the pulse of the San Francisco music scene. Following his tenure as the San Francisco Music Examiner for Examiner.com and AXS.com, he embarked on creating Music in SF® to authentically highlight the vibrant offerings of the city's music scene.

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