REAL NAME: Shauna McKenzie
BIRTH DATE: May 22, 1983
BIRTH PLACE: August Town, Jamaica
Born Shauna McKenzie, the only girl in a family of boys, Etana grew up in the eastern Saint Andrew community of August Town where she currently resides. Her vocal talent was discovered when she was six years old. Etana migrated to the US in 1992 and attended the Broward Community College withe the intention of becoming a Registered Nurse. Etana returned to her Kingston birthplace; music still beckoned but this time, it had to be done on her terms. Etana wanted to deliver dignified, emboldening words shaped by her embracement of Rastafarian principles, which include a royal representation of women, adhering to a natural lifestyle, and an acknowledgment of the teachings of Marcus Garvey and Emperor Haile Selassie I.
That opportunity arrived in 2005 when a friend brought her to Kingston’s Fifth Element Records, who were then enjoying success with Richie Spice’s single “Earth A Run Red” and his album “Spice In Your Life”. Spice was heavily booked for American and European tours; Etana auditioned to become one of his backup vocalists and so impressed Spice’s management team, she was immediately asked to accompany the Rastafarian singer on his tour dates. Etana gained invaluable experience as a member of Spice’s entourage performing throughout Europe and North America.
While in the studio with the guitarist and percussionist from Spice’s band, Etana put together the song that heralded her arrival Wrong Address. Audaciously fusing acoustic folk with roots reggae rhythms and strains of neo soul influences Wrong Address was based on the experience of Etana’s aunt being told to lie about where she lived in order to gain employment.
The compelling single, which resonated with many hard working Jamaicans who live in poor communities that are further stigmatized because of gang related violence, was duly rewarded with heavy radio rotation, reaching the number 1 position on several Jamaican charts. Etana’s second major hit Roots was inspired by her travels to Africa (her very first solo performance was in the West African nation of Ghana where she was showered with overwhelming adulation).
To date she has released two full length CD’s including ‘The Strong One’ her 2011 album ‘Free Expressions’ and one Digital EP.