Fourteen years after Etana made the decision to leave college in 2000, we are anticipating the release of her latest project. A strong woman as her stage moniker implies, Etana made the decision to stay true to her roots, her beliefs, and ultimately herself after she returned to Kingston, her birthplace circa 2005 to focus on her music.
A year ago we sat down with Etana to discuss her tour and the current state of the music business. More than a year later we were we able to catch up with this COCO woman, as she is getting ready to release her fourth studio album, I Rise.
14 Questions We Asked Etana
COCO: What was so different about creating this album?
Etana: This album is different because once again you can hear even more growth from the last album ‘Better Tomorrow’ to ‘I RISE’; lyrically, emotionally, spiritually and vocally. It’s well rounded.
COCO: Clive Hunt is a very well respected Jamaican producer. What was it like working with him on this project?
Etana: Clive Hunt is a genius. He just is. There is no going around it. He plays every instrument and loves music more than he loves anything else and it shows in everything he does. He’s also very kind and in his own way he will get to where you are musically without you even seeing it. He’s unbelievable.
COCO: Richest Girl, your first single off of the new album, tell us about the concept and why it was the first single you released?
Etana: ‘Richest Girl’ was chosen by the A&R, Neil Diamond, because he wanted to give the listeners a taste of the production on the album. He wanted them to have an idea of what the sound was like. He also thought the lyrics and passion was deep enough to reach far and wide.
COCO: Tell us about the concept for the Trigger music video.
Etana: ‘Trigger’ is one of my babies on this album; actually, they are all my babies. Trigger was written about a young man who is fresh out of high school with 9 subjects, more than required to be employed in Jamaica but became victim of the lack of opportunities in the country. At the same time his mother who worked so hard to educate him was dying from cancer and he had to do whatever he could to help her. He chose to sell bag juice and phone cards and whatever he could get his hands on.
COCO: How have you evolved as an artist and a songwriter from ‘The Strong One’ to ‘I Rise’?
Etana: Well as anyone grows in any business or even through school; in time and with time come different experiences. [These include] triumph, pain, struggles, heartbreak, laughter, friendships, relationships, and even meeting someone for a brief moment, all of that is life. All the songs [on this album] are true to life. Either my experience or someone I have encountered. It’s all in the music.
COCO: What did you do differently on this album compared to the others?
Etana: I had a producer who is like a mad scientist [laughs], writers who co-wrote with me, and some of the best vocalist[s] in Jamaica singing background as the songs are created. [There was] a great energy throughout all the recordings, most of all.
COCO: You cover two songs on this album. Why did you choose to cover either of those particular songs? (Selassie is the Chapel by The Wailers and Stepping Out of Babylon by Marcia Griffiths)
Etana: I would always do ‘Haile Selassie’ as an intro to my shows and I was always asked why it was never recorded so I did it this time for them. It’s also one of those songs I consider sacred.
COCO: ‘How Long’ addresses the suffering in Jamaica. Tell us a little more about that song and why it was important for you to include it on the album.
Etana: ‘How Long’ addresses the suffering of the people. When I wrote this song I pictured the faces of the people in Jamaica in this time and the things that are not done in the country to help the poor in any way. I also pictured the faces of the politicians as they smile with each other and make promises to the people they know they won’t fulfill because they are too busy collecting free monies from other countries, traveling the world and living a life the poor can only dream of. With this song, I want to know how long will the people suffer. I want to know if the politicians have given any thought of their own children in the years to come. It’s not only Jamaica, it’s the same or worst in some parts of Africa, South America, other Caribbean countries, and Europe. Karma is real and there is always something to pay. So, how long?
COCO: What does “I Rise” mean to you?
Etana: “I Rise” means though my struggle may be long or rough, I am able to get up and live and fight yet another day. I rise from one day to the next leaving the negative behind and “able” to run with a burst of positive energy. I’m on my way!
COCO: How do you find balance between your career, being a mother and a wife?
Etana: I always say I just do it like Nike! The hardest part is leaving them behind but they know mommy loves them with all her heart and this is what mommy does. My schedule always involves family time and I don’t miss birthdays and special moments.
COCO: Do you have any advice/tips for women who like you are balancing the act of career woman, mother, and wife?
Etana: Well everyone’s situation is different and no one really knows to be honest. You just have to follow your heart and that inner feeling that says move or don’t move. I’ll also say go hard and remember every woman experiences a similar or the same situation. Never look down on another sister. Women have come a long way but we have much further to go. We are still not seen as equal to men in the work force in many countries across the world. I think a part of that is that we are not yet united. Let’s look out for each other and fight for our right with knowledge and respect for each other and the world. Even the babies deserve respect.
COCO: You completed a 17-date tour in France in June and July this year. Congratulations on that! Were there any stops along that tour which stood out to you as being the most memorable?
Etana: Wow! The whole tour was memorable. I saw a lot more fans and the response to new songs was fantastic. I really appreciate working with Mediacom and being face to face with my EU fans.
COCO: Do you have any upcoming dates to promote the album that our readers should look out for?
Etana: I will start in America in early October to the end of November and I won’t be in Europe until April of next year because while the album will be released in America and the UK on the 28th, it will not be released in Europe until 2015.
For the dates and venues check the ONEETANA Facebook page [https://www.facebook.com/OneEtana] and the website [www.etanathestrongone.com]
COCO: Is there any place you have not been able to share your message in person yet that you are looking forward to do so with this new album?
Etana: I think I’d like to visit Kenya again. Last time was crazy, they sang their hearts out but I was with child I couldn’t move around too much. I would love to revisit Johannesburg and visit all the places in Africa I haven’t been. But truth is all will be as it should and so I am open and grateful for all that will come.
Who is Etana?
She is a songstress that emulates and embraces the Rastafarian principles. One particular principle she has sincerely adopted is that women should be represented as royalty at all times. Check out our first interview with Etana to learn more about her as a woman and her earlier beginnings in the music industry.
Link Etana on the following social media platforms below to let her know how excited you are for her latest release, I Rise!
Connect with Etana
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