Shauna McKenzie (born 22 May 1984), known as Etana, is a reggae singer from Jamaica. Her debut album The Strong One was released in June 2008. She is the first female artiste to top the Billboard Reggae charts with the release in March 2018 or her album Reggae Forever.
Born Shauna McKenzie in Kingston, Jamaica, the only girl in a family of boys, Etana grew up in the eastern Saint Andrew community of August Town. Her vocal talent was discovered when she was eight years old and was overheard singing along to a 1991 hit by the group Air Supply.
Etana migrated to the United States in 1992. She went on to attend Broward Community College with the intention of becoming a registered nurse.
Following her decision to prematurely exit college in 2000, Etana joined a female vocal group named Gift. At the time Universal Records was interested in their music so Etana reluctantly agreed to wear the skimpy outfits dictated by the music industry’s pervasive stereotyping of female artists; then one day, she could no longer conform.
Etana returned to her Kingston birthplace and focused on making music that reflected her embracing Rastafari 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. Etana successfully auditioned to become one of Spice’s vocalists on his tour of Europe and North America.
The Strong One (2007-2009)
While in the studio with the guitarist and percussionist from Spice’s band, Etana put together the song “Wrong Address”. 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 single received heavy radio rotation, reaching the number one 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 Ghana).
The remainder of the songs on her debut album The Strong One presents a mix of Etana’s ideas and influences, which include Air Supply, Dolly Parton, Bob Marley and Sizzla.
Etana was nominated for the 2008 MOBO Awards in the ‘Best Reggae’ category.
Free Expressions and Better Tomorrow (2011–2013)
Etana released her second album, Free Expressions, in 2011. She toured Europe in 2012. She is now married to Andre Morris.
Her third album, the Shane Brown-produced Better Tomorrow was recorded mainly at Tuff Gong studios in 2012 and was released in February 2013.
In 2013 she recorded the duet If Tomorrow Never Comes with New Zealand singer Swiss which hit the New Zealand top 50 eventually climbing to the number one position for more than one week.
Her fourth album, the Clive Hunt-produced I Rise, was released in October 2014 and entered the Billboard Top Reggae Albums chart at number 7, and topped the chart in its second week of release. It remained at the number one spot for four weeks. Etana was the first female to top the reggae Billboard chart in over 15 years.
Etana executively produced her fifth album, Reggae Forever, which was released in March 2018 and distributed by Tad’s records. Reggae Forever remained at number one for two consecutive weeks. This makes Etana the first female in more than two decades, in Reggae, to gain top position twice on the Billboard charts.
The Strong One, 2008
Free Expressions, 2011
Better Tomorrow, 2013
I Rise, 2014
Reggae Forever, 2018