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Etana: Show Preview 

Wednesday, May 18 2011

Jamaican singers Gyptian and Etana are both 28, have several albums each to their credit, and had early hits with conscious-message tunes — but that's where the similarities end. Gyptian, born Windel Beneto Edwards, is best known for last year's Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop-charting single "Hold Yuh," an ode to sexual embrace sung over a lo-fi plink-plonk piano riff. He now flexes in the pop dancehall arena, but previous songs "Mama Don't Cry" and "Serious Times" bear out his Rastafarian roots. In contrast, Shauna "Etana" McKenzie (nicknamed "The Strong One") hasn't strayed from her feminist lyrics and reggae foundation even as she's explored Tracy Chapman–style acoustic numbers and Jill Scott love anthems on new album Free Expressions. Whereas Gyptian's crossover songs sound trite, Etana's come through organic and real.

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Tomas A. Palermo

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