Sat | Oct 21, 2017

Anita Antoinette reconnects with Jamaican roots ... As she moves forward with music career

Published:Sunday | April 23, 2017 | 12:00 AMShereita Grizzle
Past contestant on 'The Voice', Anita Antoinette, visits her childhood home in Duhaney Park, St Andrew.

Many may remember Anita Antoinette, the Jamaica-born singer who stole the hearts of countless Jamaicans when she entered The Voice competition in 2014.

It was just two seasons after Jamaica's songbird, Tessanne Chin, had won the competition, and the thought of having another 'yaadie' win the prestigious Voice title was enough to gain Antoinette a strong local following.

Antoinette managed to make it to the top 10 before exiting the competition, and although that was not the finish many Jamaicans were hoping for, the young singer certainly made an impression, garnering support from the likes of Tessanne Chin, Nikki Z, Dahlia Harris, and many more.

Fast-forward three years, and Antoinette is ready to use the exposure she gained from The Voice to jump-start her career in the music industry. In an interview with The Sunday Gleaner, Antoinette said that she now knows exactly where she wants to go with her career and believed that there was no better place to start than where it all began.

Having grown up on reggae music with a veteran artiste as a father, Antoinette recently returned to her birth country, hoping to reconnect with her roots. The singer migrated to the United States of America at age eight and the journey back was her first trip home since then. She told The Sunday Gleaner that she had absolutely no expectations when she decided to visit Jamaica and her childhood home in Duhaney Park but was pleased to see things almost exactly how she had left them.

"I feel at home. A lot of the people I grew up with are still here, and they all recognise me. When I came back here, the minute I came, I started crying. It wasn't because I was sad or because there was such a difference in how I am now, it was love," she said, with tears streaming down her face. "I had all my childhood memories here. This is my life, my core. This is where I come from, and I love it. People think that America is everything, but all that glitters is not gold."

Antoinette explained that coming back to Jamaica at this point in her career was one of the best decisions she ever made. She pointed out that as an artiste, it is important to make the connections between one's past as well as one's present in order to bring across the message more efficiently through one's music.

"The most I have to give is my music, and so I want to make sure that what people get from me is real. I wanted people to see where I've come from and that I'm real," she said. "When I sing about hardship and struggles, I don't want the message to be lost because people think they cannot connect with me because I have no experience of the things I sing about. Music means so much more when people can connect with it."

 

JAMAICAN PULL

 

During Antoinette's time in the competition, many supported her for the mere fact that she was Jamaican, while others compared her to Tessanne Chin. Some even went as far as to say that she was using her Jamaican background to catapult her into the finals as Chin's win was still fresh in the minds of many. However, Antoinette told The Sunday Gleaner that she has never been the type to focus on negative energy and explained that she felt no need to prove her 'Jamaicanness' then and still sees no need to prove it now.

"I am a real person. I do actually come from here, and I'm not just some random person you saw on your TV screens, but I'm never going to force someone to feel something that they don't feel, and I'm never going to try to be more Jamaican than I am," she said. "I am not putting on a show, neither am I trying to become something that I'm not. A lot of people out there sing about Jamaica and its culture but don't know what we stand for. I am just trying to make good music; music that connects with people and music that shows the world who I am at the core."

After releasing her first single - Care - last year, Antoinette is gearing up to release her debut EP in June. The EP, she hopes, will showcase her diversity as she dabbles in reggae, jazz, funk, soul, and R&B.

entertainment@gleanerjm.com