Etana's name means “The Strong One” in Swahili, and it’s a title she more than lives up to with her music and presence. Since debuting in 2006 with the thought provoking single “Wrong Address,” the Jamaican-born singer has established herself as one of the most powerful and distinctive voices in reggae, blazing a new trail in a genre that has long been male-dominated.
Etana’s story begins in August Town, a treacherous but culturally-rich garrison community in eastern Kingston, Jamaica that has produced such musical talents as Sizzla and Israel Vibration. Etana’s family relocated to South Florida when she was nine where she started middle school.
Inspired by a true story experienced by her own aunt, “Wrong Address” detailed job discrimination as faced by residents of poor communities such as August Town. The song resonated deeply in Jamaica, establishing Etana as a powerful new voice with a distinct point of view rooted in the realities of working-class life.
VP Records, recognized Etana’s talents and in 2008, the label released her debut LP, The Strong One. The album, which combined Etana’s reggae sound with aspects of R&B and world music, was embraced by fans as well as the music industry, landing the singer a nomination in the “best reggae” category at the MOBO Awards in England.
Etana continues her forward movement becoming the first female to achieve a Reggae Billboard #1 in seventeen years with I Rise, album produced by Jamaican luminary Clive Hunt (Peter Tosh, Rolling Stones, The Wailers, Chaka Khan, Grace Jones, Jimmy Cliff). The album reflects the singer’s ongoing maturity while maintaining the R&B-inflected take on reggae that she’s come to be known for, showcasing the diversity of a true musical Renaissance woman. "I RISE" is classified as Etana's best album to date by many and listed as the number one album of 2014 and in the top five of thirty albums that were released in said year.
Inspiring others is nothing new for Etana. From the outset of her career with “Wrong Address”, a track which led many to re-evaluate how they look at others from different socio-economic backgrounds; she has been instigating change.
Four albums into her career, Etana has become a role model in Jamaica with her message and action. Etana has used her success in music to create a charity organization in Jamaica, “Strong One Foundation” where she helps teenage mothers and girls who have been abused to receive counseling, regain strength and financial support to continue their education. Etana has also continued touring since the release of her I Rise album and is currently in studio recording her fifth studio album.