Reggae singer and songwriter Etana is set to drop her sophomore album Free Expressions in early February. The album has been preceded by strong singles such as Mockingbird, August Town and Heart Broken. Reggaemani got a chat with her from her home island of Jamaica.
Etana started her musical career in female vocal group Gift in 2000. But she soon left the outfit because she didn’t like the widespread stereotyping of female artists. Now she is doing music on her own terms instead.
“It’s a major difference now when I can decide everything for myself. I can do things my way and record what I want. I’m being able to express myself. It’s a natural vibe, natural energy”, says Etana on the phone from Jamaica.
Some years after she had left the group a friend introduced her to singer Richie Spice’s former management Fifth Element Records and she agreed to follow him on tour as a backup vocalist.
The label obviously recognized her huge talent and managed to persuade her to record the single Wrong Address, a single that was rewarded with heavy radio rotation and also climbed to number 1 on several Jamaican charts.
In 2008 she dropped her debut album The Strong One to wide critical acclaim, partly due to hit songs such as I’m Not Afraid on Kemar “Flava” McGregor’s wicked Rub-a-Dub riddim and Alborosie duet Blessings.
On her new album Free Expressions she has continued working with Flava McGregor and Alborosie. But she has also invited UK master producer Curtis Lynch for some tough tunes.
“The label recommended me to work with Curtis Lynch, so he flew to Jamaica and we met at Gussie Clarke’s studio. The chemistry was great and all the songs came out just like that. I think the first song we recorded was Move On, then Heart Broken and last August Town. It was a good connection”, says Etana.
She says that the new album was produced a little differently from the first. Most of the sessions were less planned which has given the album more of a free vibe. On Free Expressions Etana has also written most of the material herself, something that might also have had an effect on the different vibe during recording.
“It feels good to do most things by myself and VP never gives me a hard time production wise or video wise. I’m very excited that I’ve come up with an entire album”.
She explains that the new album is more reggae compared to The Strong One and that the debut was more of an introduction to her music.
Free Expressions hit the streets on February 8th and then she will go on tour to the U.S. and Europe.
“I’ll probably start touring in America and then spend much time in Europe and the UK”, she says and reveals her hopes on Free Expressions:
“I hope it will take me to the next level and that it will make me continue to grow. Everything is possible and you never know where it’s going to go”.