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While Etana's vintage style of socially conscious reggae seems like a reaction to all the sex and violence in dancehall reggae, her journey back to roots music began as a reaction to the hedonistic side of R&B. Born in Kingston, Jamaica, Etana -- a Swahili name for "the strong one" --was still known as Shauna McKenzie and living in Florida when she left the nursing program she was attending at college to join the R&B group Gift. Signed to a major label, the band was shooting its first, big-budget video, but Etana was troubled by the lingerie outfits they were required to wear and walked away from the group with plans to return to her homeland to open an Internet café. Back in Jamaica, the call of music was too strong, and she soon joined Richie Spice's group as a backup singer. In 2007, she recorded the track "Wrong Address" with some other members of Spice's group and it quickly rose to number one on the Jamaican charts. The track landed on Etana's debut, the 2008 VP records release The Strong One, which also featured the hits "I Am Not Afraid" and "Roots." In 2011 she returned with the single "People Talk," along with the album Free Expressions. Recorded at Kingston's legendary Tuff Gong studios, her third album, Better Tomorrow, followed in 2013.
© David Jeffries /TiVo
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