I Admire: Empress Etana

Etana Richest Girl (Official Music video)There are many female artists I look up to in the industry. But if I have to choose one, it would easily be Etana.

 

Etana means The Strong One in Kiswahili and this is no doubt one strong inspirational woman. And I don’t use that word lightly. She was born Shauna McKenzie and she’s from August Town, Jamaica. She grew up in Florida and wanted to become a nurse, but she instead joined a female vocal group called Gift, signed to Universal, which she was part of for a few years.

 

But she didn’t like what the industry had presented to her and decided that if these were the terms of being a musician, she’d rather do something else. So she moved to Jamaica to start an internet café.

 

But as she was in the establishing phase of that business, she got word that the legendary Richie Spice was having auditions for new backup singers. She went along and not surprisingly, she got picked to back up for him on his Europe and North America tour.

 

While working with Richie Spice, she decided that she again wanted to do music, but on her own terms. Today she has released numerous singles and 4 fantastic albums. The strong one, Free Expressions, Better tomorrow and I Rise.

 

Why I find Etana so inspiring is not just because of her beautiful voice that never fails to move me. Her story is in a few ways similar to mine. At least in the fact that she wanted to give up music altogether and concentrate on something different. But she somehow got back into it. It goes to show that if you are created for the purpose of doing music, you will end up doing music, no matter what. Just look at Tina Turner who got big in her 60s.

 

But a more important reason why I love Etana so much is because her songs always speak to me on some level. And she is very diverse in her lyrics. She talks about everything from being unfaithful as a woman, to poverty, spirituality, injustice, Being a black woman, everyday life and true love. She has inspired me so much and will no doubt continue to do so.

 

It was hard to choose which of her many brilliant songs to share with you. But I chose richest girl from her 2014 album I Rise because the lyrics is a good reminder of what’s precious in life. You’ll know what I mean. Just sit back and listen.

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