Island Stage and Reggae Reflection caught up with the Jamaican songstress for a quick conversation. Although her schedule is packed,Anita took time out to speak with us.
First, a little about Anita.
Singer-songwriter Anita Antoinette creates insightful, passionate melodies that combine the soulfulness of her Jamaican roots with a profound understanding of the world we inhabit. A riveting, inspirational performer, she shares passion and intensity with audiences large and small. Her stirring original compositions offer a unique take on the reggae tradition, incorporating elements of jazz, blues, funk and soul to create a musical hybrid that races the mind and lifts the spirit.
Daughter of reggae icon Clinton Fearon, Anita grew up dancing to the rhythm of her father’s songs in Kingston, Jamaica. She came to the United States in 1996, where she settled first in South Boston and then New Britain, Connecticut with her mother, brothers, and sister. A self-taught singer and guitarist, Anita began writing her own music as a teenager, inspired both by her father and by other legends such as Bob Marley, India Arie and Erykah Badu. She graduated from the prestigious Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts in 2008, and was accepted to the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, where she earned a Bachelors Degree in Professional Music: Concentration in Music Business and Songwriter.
Anita Antoinette has performed on stages large and small throughout New England, the Northeast and the Pacific Northwest, including a 2008 appearance at the Library of Congress in Washington DC. She has appeared on the 3rd season of NBC’s hit show, “The Voice” in 2012. An artist in every sense of the word, she paints, writes, draws and takes pictures while continuing to write music. She currently lives in Boston, where she is now working on her debut album.
Here is our conversation:
Q: How has your education at Berklee College of Music prepared you for this journey?
Anita: It was at Berklee that the musical foundation that I had built at the Greater Hartford Performing Arts Academy flourished. Berklee gave me the tools I needed to succeed in the musical arena and now it’s up to me to put that to good use. It’s a great school for anyone who’s really serious about music in the academic area.
Q: How has your father, Reggae Icon Clinton Fearon, influenced your musical direction and what advice has he given you for this next challenge?
Anita: Certainly, there is some musical influence there, but the journey has been one that I sought out independently. My journey is about my music and having the opportunity to perform it for the people. This experience has been an eye opening one for me. It taught me to be more sure of myself and to never let fear hinder my progress.
Q: What is your strategy for competing in the Wild Card Rounds?
Anita: Wow….that’s a good question. My strategy is to just go out there and be myself. I want the folks watching back at home to understand that I am doing this not just for myself but also for them. It’s for anyone who’s ever had any self-doubt, it’s for anyone that has dealt rejection time and time again or felt as though they’re not good enough….I want my music to inspire people and motivate them to a higher level. That’s what I hope to accomplish. Winning the competition is the ultimate goal, but if I fall short of accomplishing this it certainly won’t be for nothing. If my performance on the Voice stage and the message that I am sending through my music touches people and elicits any amount of emotion, where people are moved, then for me that is good enough. I guess you could say that I’ve won in that sense!
Q: How has your day to day life changed since appearing on the Voice Season 4? What advice will you offer upcoming contestants on the show?
Anita: Since appearing on the Voice my day to day life has changed a bit but not a grand scale. People recognize me when I’m out in public and the ones that aren’t too shy to approach me come over and say hi…I love those moments. I can’t tell you how wonderful it makes me feel. I would say to them…. never lose yourself and understand that it isn’t all glitter and gold, its hard work, and work that is not guaranteed, so if you do choose this path, choose it from your heart. Also, choose it because you love the music, and the power of music. Learn your craft inside and out including understanding ‘the business’ aspect in itself as well.
Q: You made it to the blind auditions in 2012 and did not turn a chair. This time you turned all four! Tell us how you stayed inspired to not give up and try again this year.
Anita: After my failed attempt to get any chairs in 2012, I took a break from playing music; you could say I had I bit of stage fright. I managed to overcome this and tried to just really focus on myself as an artist and my music. I got back to doing what I love the most i.e. playing music. I got a few gigs here and there and would travel between, MA, CT and NY. My inspiration comes from within, but most important, my inspiration comes from others who have paved the way for musicians like me. Bob Marley’s music is empowering, moving and compelling. His legacy is my inspiration; this is what keeps me going.
Q: We love the way you represented your Jamaican heritage with your song choices, especially when you did your rendition of Bob Marley’s Redemption Song. How did it feel to know that you were singing that song for millions of young people who may have never heard it? And how important do you feel that song choice is in this competition?
Anita: Song choice is absolutely critical. It can either go really well or really bad. You know, when I went up to perform that song, I just thought, to myself I have to get this right…I have to make Bob proud. It’s a song that I can relate to personally. Growing up as a young child in Jamaica was a struggle. I was the youngest of 4. My mother was a single parent working as a seamstress in a factory (Freezone) to make ends meet. There were many times that she had to leave me in the care of other people so that she could go to work. There were nights we went to bed hungry…it was rough. I want my generation and the younger generation coming up to understand that life will throw you curve balls and sometimes the system will do all that it can to keep us down, but we have to rise above it, we must persevere, we must emancipate ourselves from mental slavery. Be the change we want to see in the world, love each other, and build up our brothers and sisters. One love unites us…there is no other way!