Etana, aka Shauna McKenzie, blends roots reggae with folk, soul, and jazz into one truly magical and organic attention-grabbing sound.
Born in Jamaica and now based in Florida, Etana recently made history as the first female with back-to-back top albums on the Billboard Reggae Chart, and her fifth album Reggae Forever, which was released last year, debuted on Billboard’s Reggae chart at No. 1.
Reggae Forever also allowed Etana to attain her first Grammy nomination in 2019 in the Best Reggae Album category, making her the first female artist in 21 years to be nominated for the award. With the nomination, she found herself in stellar company: Reggae Forever held its own alongside Black Uhuru’s As the World Turns, Ziggy Marley’s Rebellion Rises, Protoje’s A Matter of Time, and Sting and Shaggy’s winning album 44/876.
Etana sat down with Musical Notes Global to talk all about her 2019 Grammy nomination and her experience on Grammy night. Check out the full interview below.
MNGBlog: First of all, congratulations on this wonderful album and first-time Grammy nomination! Where were you when you heard the news and how did it feel to receive the nomination?
Etana: I received a phone call about being nominated and I felt overjoyed! Having the album created independently and distributed by Tad's Records has been a wonderful experience. To be the first female in 21 years to be nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album is a big deal. The last time that a female artist was nominated in the category was in 1997 when Sister Carol received a nomination. I'm so happy to see that people like the album Reggae Forever as much as we do.
MNGBlog: Can you talk a little bit about your experience on Grammy day? Do you have a favorite memory from that night?
Etana: It's an honor that Reggae Forever has been recognized by the Recording Academy with a Best Reggae Album nomination and to be amongst these talented nominated artists and award-winning artists. To be there at the 2019 Grammy Awards was just amazing! Yes, a favorite memory at the 2019 Grammy Awards was being interviewed by media on the red carpet as well as strutting down the red carpet having my photo taken by many media outlets. It was very exciting!
MNGBlog: Reggae Forever debuted at #1 on the Billboard Reggae chart. First, how did that feel, and second, why do you think so many people have appreciated this album in a such a huge way?
Etana: I was extremely happy when I learned that my first independent project made it to number one. I couldn't have this project do any less than the one before. I think people appreciate Reggae Forever for the fact that it was independently produced, it's eclectic, and the main message is love, as well as it tells many stories and keeps the listener engaged till the end.
They feel something when they hear the songs. It is a beautiful thing to see that so many people have gravitated towards this album and songs.
MNGBlog: Do you have a favorite track on the album? Or which one or two tracks have you noticed people are identifying with most?
Etana: All of the songs are my favorite! It is great to see that people identify with the songs on the album. "Spread Love" because we all need love in this world, "My Man" is a popular dancehall/reggae love song and "Free part two." It is so hard to pick one or two songs.
MNGBlog: What do you have planned for 2019? New music? A tour?
Etana: Yes, I'm working on new music. I will be going on tour in the U.S. this year as well as touring the U.K. and other countries. For up-to-the-minute news and information on my music and shows, visit www.etanathestrongone.com and follow on Facebook @OneEtana and Instagram @EtanaStrongOne and Twitter @EtanaStrongOne.
Stream Reggae Forever now on Spotify and watch the official music video for “Spread Love” below.