Vana Liya puts reggae spin on
Vana Liya

California-based singer Vana Liya has put a reggae spin on the hit song Someone Loves You Honey . It is to be released today via DubShot Records.

Vana Liya said she grew up listening to JC Lodge's version of the Charley Pride original.

“Growing up my mother and my grandmother would play the JC Lodge version of Someone Loves You Honey around the house. Although it was a love song, my mom would sing it to me just to let me know how much she loved me, so it always had a special place in my heart. Now I felt like it was my turn to sing it to my mom. Without knowing my history with the song, Christopher 'Mannix' Schlarb of DubShot had a great idea of covering this tune as a way to connect old-school and new-school reggae — it was a no-brainer! Usually when doing covers, I try to make it my own. But with this one, I felt the importance to stick to the lightness that Miss JC brought to her version,” Vana Liya told the Jamaica Observer's Splash.

Vana Liya's version pairs her with recording artiste Asadenaki, son of the reggae pioneer Bunny Wailer. She spoke about working with Asadenaki on the track.

“We connected once at a show in New York a few years ago and we just clicked. He had a bright energy about him and he brings that in his words and music. His verse adds a specific liveliness to the track and I am honoured to have had him on this song,” said Vana Liya.

Someone Loves You Honey was originally released by American country music singer Johnny Rodriguez in 1974 on his album Songs About Ladies and Love. It was recorded by American country music artiste Charley Pride, whose version became a number one hit on the Billboard Country Singles chart in 1978. However, three years later in 1981, British reggae singer JC Lodge scored a massive hit in Europe with her version of the song.

Vana Liya, whose real name is Nirvana Goberdhan, is of Guyanese heritage. She grew up in New York but relocated to California two years ago to jump-start her singing career.

“My parents came to the States when they were in their 20s. I am a first-generation American, so we were a bit Westernised, but there was still a heavy cultural influence in our house. Listening to reggae and soca music was normal for us and was a part of our every day life,” she shared.

Earlier this year, she collaborated with Jamaican reggae artiste Half Pint.

“I was able to work with Half Pint on a political tune called Come Away. It was special to come together with a legendary artiste, but doing it with a purpose brought a new meaning to our collaboration,” she said.

Vana Liya — who grew up listening to the likes of Barrington Levy, Dennis Brown, and Buju Banton — shared her reasons for venturing into the world of reggae music.

“There are a few reasons. Firstly, it is a genre I am familiar with – it was one of the first (if not the first) genres of music I was introduced to. But also, reggae music has a purpose and a message – writing meaningful music is important to me,” she explained.

She continued, “I think I bring a new sound. I wouldn't describe my sound as reggae, but rather reggae fusion. I have a lot of reggae influences in my songs, but they are blended with pop, jazz, etc. It's a blend – just like me culturally.”

According to Vana Liya, she never saw herself as a musician.

“I never envisioned myself as a musician – it was something I always wanted but I never saw it as achievable. I was going to school full time and got a break in music and because of that I feel beyond blessed to be on this journey. The opportunity motivates me to work hard and push myself as I am so fortunate to be in this position. I want to spread positivity through my music. Music has a healing quality. As a musician, you have the ability to say or convey any message you want, so for me, I want to convey positivity,” she added.

In September, Vana Liya released her debut album Little Kahuna. The 10-track set features collaborations with Kbong, Half Pint, and Pepper.

Vana Liya and Half Pint
BY KEVIN JACKSON Observer writer

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