According to a recent release, Reggae princess Etana is the first female Jamaican artist to top the US Billboard Reggae album charts in almost 20 years.
Roots reggae singer-songwriter Etana strikes again. This week, her fourth studio album I Rise (Oct 28, VP) hits #1 on the U.S. Billboard Reggae Album chart. She is one of the three Jamaican female artists ever and the first in nearly two decades (since Diana King and Patra in the mid-90s) to land this highly-coveted chart position.
Backed by a full band, Etana will celebrate this success and perform tracks from her brand new album at her NYC release party at SOBs on Monday, November 17, 2014.
Prior to this event, Etana continues her U.S. tour with Cocoa Tea, spreading her positive vibrations to major cities like St. Louis, New Orleans and Orlando.
I Rise, which is helmed by the legendary Jamaican multi-instrumentalist and producer Clive Hunt, follows Etana’s critically-acclaimed albums Better Tomorrow (2013), Free Expressions (2011) and The Strong One (2008). The Jamaican singer-songwriter’s melodic power blended with Hunt’s rich arrangements sets this album apart as one of the best throughout her stellar career.
Etana carries the torch as reggae’s leading lady with this classic collection of love ballads and roots anthems. With her poised assurance and newfound strength, she evolves spiritually, mentally, emotionally and musically. Whether she shedding light on the harsh ghetto realities on “Trigger,” “Ward 21 (Stenna’s Song)” and “How Long,” conveying romantic longings on “Richest Girl,” “Love Song,” and “By Your Side” or expressing her deep-rooted spirituality on the exquisite Bob Marley remake of “Selassie Is The Chapel,” the Marcia Griffith’s cover of “Stepping Out Of Babylon” “Emancipation” and “On My Way” – each of the album’s tracks is delivered with her soulful conviction. Producer Clive Hunt (Stevie Wonder, Peter Tosh, Rolling Stones, The Wailers, Grace Jones, Jimmy Cliff) arranged an all-star team of the island’s musicians to contribute to the set – including himself, Sly Dunbar, Robbie Shakespeare, Grub Cooper, Handel Tucker, and Dean Fraser.
Etana’s ‘I Rise’ – Track Listing:
1. Selassie is the Chapel
2. How Long
3. On My Way
4. Stepping Out Of Babylon
5. Jamaica Woman
6. I Rise
7. Richest Girl
8. Love Song
9. By Your Side
10. Passing Thru
12. Ward 21 (Stenna’s Song)
14. Jah Jah
15. Jam Credits
Remaining Tour Dates:
Nov 5 (Wed) St. Paul, MN @ Wilebski Blues Saloon
Nov 6 (Thu) in St. Louis, MO @ 2720 Cherokee
Nov 9 (Sun) in New Orleans, LA @ Publiq House
Nov 13 (Thu) in Palm Bay, FL @ Sugar Kane
Nov 15 (Sat) in Orlando, FL @ Mela Room
Nov 17 (Mon) in New York City, NY @ SOBs
Views expressed are solely the opinion of the writer, and when of others is clearly quoted, and not (unless specifically stated as such) that of www.nataliemonique.com.
by Natalie Monique
The Republic of Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean (over 11 million inhabitants), having gained formal Independence from the United States in 1902. Cuba has always been known for its rigid Communist regime under Leader Fidel Castro, causing a huge lack of Freedom for its citizens. After Raul Castro became President in 2008, he promised that there would be more freedom in Cuba, of which there has been progressive changes. Though slow in movement, one can say there seems to be a ray of hope. There are still major restrictions for example, Computer ownership/Internet use and Travelling to name a few, and there is still a high rate of Illegal Emigration. However, the island does boast a highly rich Culture (understandable being a highly multi-ethnic region), offers the best worldwide healthcare, a 99.8% literacy rate and a lower infant death rate than most developed countries, but many of the benefits are not equally distributed.
A huge part of Cuban Culture is Music, right now various types of Music though not definitively known as Genres are enjoyed more in the island. Besides Cuban produced Music, local Cuban musicians also tend to adapt worldwide Popular Cultures such as Hip Hop, Reggae, Reggaeton and Rap, while still maintaining their own vibe through content and lyrics representing current Social and Political issues.
Approaching the 1990’s, Cubans began listening to Reggaeton, a ‘form’ of Reggae Music (blending Reggae, Electronic and Latin beats) which many original Reggae Lovers feel can never come remotely close to the authentic and meaningful Genre. Reggaeton is mostly popular in the Latin American Culture and spreading to other regions especially where Latin American communities exist, I would be lying if I say it doesnt get me moving. There is nothing more satisfying and relaxing even somewhat holistic, than some real, unadulterated Reggae Music seeping through your body. However, I think its great when persons try to emulate this beautiful Genre, I’m all for diversifying, creating an eclectic blend, mixing cultures, as long as the original is still maintained and respected…I do agree however, we can never say it is actual Reggae Music:)
Holding Cuban and Jamaican Flags – Photo/Caridad
Some Cubans have actually criticised Reggaeton as being ‘too explicit’ and sexual, and publicly yearned for Reggae, and original Reggae lovers there have made efforts to push the actual genre, however limited by Resources and support. When say Reggae, I am not referring to Cuban Reggae, which is a mix of Hip Hop, African Beats and Reggae, but the original ‘Jamaican born’ Reggae. In Cuba, Reggae is largely associated with the Rastafarian culture, as is in many other societies, hence Reggae is represented and promoted by the small cross section of Rastas in Cuba. Reggae? We all instantly think of the Jamaican King of Reggae, Bob Marley who was a convicted Rastafarian, spreading Reggae Music worldwide, touching the lives of persons from various races, cultures, age and class.
Most of the Rastas and Reggae Musicians reside in in the Eastern part of Cuba, where it is believed mostly Jamaicans live, and a huge Caribbean influence exist. However, Cuba does not permit the ‘public’ Rastafarian practice, namely smoking Cannibis, which is considered a main part of the faith. There has been controversy as Reggaeton is more popular (not without criticism though) than Reggae, the original genre from where it was even created. There are a few Reggae bands/artistes in Cuba, main ones such as Remanente and Paso Firme, and others on the rise still trying to keep the genre alive.
I recently bumped into an article in the Havana Times, where the author Dmitiri Prieto said he met with Raudel, a local Musician who pleaded for ‘the advance of pacifistic non-conformist spirituality in support of reggae and against reggaeton, which he said represented the corruption and perversion of the music that gave it its birth.’ He also highlighted the fact that Rastas are unable to freely practice their belief due to Law enforcement.
Check out this Documentary trailer, directed by Susanne Moss ‘Ras Cuba’:
He mentioned that the Mass Media has also been airing more Reggae promotions and even Bob Marley which is a good sign for the well loved Genre. To highlight progress, he also made reference to a recently published Cuban book ‘La Cultura Rastafari en Cuba’ (Rastafarian Culture in Cuba) by Cuban Researcher/Author Samuel Fure Davis. I also came across another interesting online narrative by Fure wrote back in 2005, ‘Lyrical Subversion in Cuban Reggae’ and and his in-depth ‘Reggae in Cuba’, a presentation at the University of the West Indies, UWI, Jamaica. Prieto also mentioned an upcoming conference on ‘African-based’ beliefs of which he says will include the Rastafarian Faith, for the first time.
Reggae means different things to different person, to Cubans it is synonymous with Rastafari. I am not a Rasta nor smoke Marijuana, (not every Islander smokes meds by the way), but those who know me well, KNOW I deeply enjoy the natural mystic/outdoor vibe, nourishing and healing the body with herbs, seeking knowledge, eating organic and healthy AND I am an avid fan of my Island’s Reggae and Dancehall Music! Despite what Reggae means to you, we here at nataliemonique.com are determined to keep this island gem of a genre alive and taking the authentic Caribbean culture to the World:)
We love the move, the word is getting out…Free Up Reggae maan! Its not ‘just’ Music, it is a euphoric experience! We may like Music, but everybody needs a little Reggae!:) Who better to explain what Reggae is all about than the King of Reggae himself: (Watch Videos below) Feel free to comment/share your thoughts:)
Ahhhhhh, bumped into this random video of two quality and talented artiste out of Jamaica, Roots/Reggae singer I Wayne and the versatile Dancehall DJ Assassin a.k.a. Agent Sasco lyrically enjoying the vibes, as they create music.
This is how the magic happens…nice! Like the positive vibe and energy, in the natural environs and ting….love to see this unity in Reggae and Dancehall Music! WATCH VID BELOW: