From being afraid to write music to two Grammy nominations, Etana reflects on her musical journeyThursday, November 25, 2021
BY SHEREITA GRIZZLE
With countless hits under her belt, it may be hard to believe that two-time Grammy-nominated reggae artiste, Etana was once too scared to even write lyrics. But that was exactly what she told the OBSERVER ONLINE as she reflected on her second Grammy nomination.
In 2018, Etana secured a place in the musical history books when she became the first female artiste to be nominated in the Best Reggae Album category in over 20 years. At that time, she became the fourth woman in Jamaica's music history to earn a nomination. Then, on Tuesday, as the Recording Academy announced the nominations for the 2022 awards, Etana re-wrote history by becoming the first female musician to be nominated twice in the category.
“You know long it take me fi actually say something, anything at all when I heard. Me, creating history, again. My heart was beating so fast. I couldn't get my thoughts together and it's been a long time since I have felt like this. I was speechless,” she said. “I remember the first time 'I Am Not Afraid' came out, people were saying 'wah kinda song dat'? People used to ask if mi nuh see say it nuh match wid what was happening in the industry at the time and now, to just see the progression of my music, I am overjoyed at the growth.”
She shared that at one point she was afraid to write songs because she feared the reactions it would receive.
“I remember when I was even afraid to write a song because I didn't know what people would think about it and to see where I am at now, with another nomination, it's an overwhelming feeling. This is another reason to celebrate Thanksgiving even more. I have more reasons now to say thank you.”
Reflecting on the musical journey that has led her to this moment in time, Etana said she's faced her fair share of struggles, criticism and disappointments throughout her career. She admits that she has had to remain headstrong with an unwavering spirit of determination to stay focused in the music business.
“On my way up in this industry, dealing with people bomb-rushing the stage, me battling for the mic to the point where I had to fight to play with my own band, it's been a hard journey. Even in doing this project, Pamoja, the idea was so huge I didn't think I would be able to accomplish it,” she shared. “But to see the response that I got from a Junior Gong, a Vybz Kartel. To see them embrace me the way they did, as quickly and as professionally as they did, made me feel really good that I kept going. Then to see the rest of the music industry recognising the work I put into the project, it feels amazing.”
Although this is her second Grammy nomination, Etana said the raw emotions she's currently experiencing feels brand new.
“This one feels extra special because I know the work I put into making this album. The feeling is new, brand new. I just can't put into words how grateful and excited I am,” she said. “Hard work does pay off and when you take the time to do music the right way, it is recognised by your peers and colleagues. When you get to being nominated for a Grammy, it is a huge deal. For you to just get there, it takes hard work, no joke work. Yes, I want to win, but I think it's just a major deal for everyone who is nominated to even be there in the first place.”
On that note, the singer used the opportunity to congratulate dancehall queen Spice who is also nominated in the Best Reggae Album category, sealing a place in history herself as the first hardcore female dancehall artiste to earn a nomination.
Etana, who admits that she admires Spice's work ethic, said her nomination shows how far women have come in music.
“I watched her (Spice) come up in music and she is as hardworking as they come and so congrats to her on this achievement as well. The both of us being nominated in one year means that we have come a long way as women and we have learnt a lot about this business of music.”