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Dual musical citizenship - Petraa balances Toronto, St Ann for reggae career

Published:Thursday | August 25, 2016 | 12:00 AMCarl Gilchrist

Multitalented reggae artiste Petra Grant decided at an early stage to add an extra 'a' to her first name and create the stage name Petraa, as she sought to establish herself in the reggae music industry.

Another, even more important, decision was to come to the land where reggae originated to get the real feel as she built her career. Petraa, who is also a DJ, songwriter and producer, comes from from Leeds in England and relocated to Toronto, Canada. But she actually spends six months each year in Jamaica.

"With me being an artiste who focuses mainly on reggae and dancehall, I have to come to the land where it originated in order for me to get not just inspired but to also push the movement. Because music is a movement, it's not just a sound," Petraa explained.

Currently working with engineer Christopher Coombs at Di Lab Records in Exchange,

St Ann, Petraa is hoping to go back to her high of 2008. She and Janny Popps collaborated on a track named Butterfly, which hit number one on WBLK 93.7 FM in New York.

She hopes her latest track, Love is Eternal, is a step towards achieving her goal. "Love is Eternal is a song about two people meeting, falling in love and experiencing the beauty of love. Love, that's how we all got here, that's what keeps us all going. We need something positive to hold on to," Petraa said.




Although Petraa writes and sings a lot about love, there is another angle to her style. She also writes a lot of reality songs such as Poverty a Catch Me and Still a Do Me. "Still a Do Me means I wanna do me, regardless. I'm gonna be the best I can be, I'm gonna be successful, I'm gonna go to school and get an education. I'm gonna do what I can to inspire myself and also inspire people along the way," Petraa said.

Singing professionally for over a decade, Petraa seeks longevity for her career. "Music is not a fad to me; music is me," she stressed. "I used to line up all my teddy bears and sing to them (she laughs), so music has always been me. I wanna do music as long as I can stand, as long as I can breathe and let the world know what I have and share not just my message, but their message also," she said.

Petraa will be doing studio work for the rest of the year, except for a show in Toronto in October, as she works on her

13-track album. It is a mixture of reggae, R&B and dancehall and should be ready for release next year. The album will "talk about what it is to know struggle, to know success, to know love, to know tragedy, a whole bunch of different things.

"I want to share people's stories through my music," Petraa said.