Anita Antoinette – ‘My Journey Was For Me’

By Hume Johnson, PhD and Sabrina Caserta

Jamaican-born singer-songwriter, Anita Antoinette

Jamaican-born singer-songwriter, Anita Antoinette. Photo Credit – AnitaAntoinette.com

My goal isn’t to win, it is to develop, and cultivate a career that can allow me to empower others to live out their dreams’.

This is how 25 year old Jamaican born singer-songwriter Anita Antoinette described her journey on the popular American talent competition, The Voice, when The Re:Imagine Jamaica Project caught up with her for a brief chat recently.

For the second year in a row, a Jamaican performer lit up the stage of NBC’s popular television talent competition, The Voice. This time, its the strikingly beautiful daughter of Jamaican reggae artiste, Clinton Fearon. Anita grew up on the sounds of her father’s music in Kingston, Jamaica. Relocating to the United States with her family at just 8 years old, Anita returns to her Kingston roots when creating music. Her original compositions pull on traditional reggae sounds, but seek to incorporate elements of jazz, blues, funk and soul to create a unique musical hybrid that is all her own.

A self-taught singer and guitarist, Anita brought her unique style and personality to The Voice. Competing on Season 7 of The Voice as part of Gwen Stefani’s team, Anita showed early that she is a strong performer with amazing vocals. She wowed the American audience from the early blind auditions to her ultimate elimination (Anita made the Top 8). This is not the first time Anita was eliminated from The Voice. In The Voice Season 3 in 2012. Anita was eliminated during the Blind auditions. In a recent interview with the Re:Imagine Jamaica Project, we asked Anita about early elimination, her experience on the show, the ‘Tessane effect’, and her connection to Jamaica.

***

Re:Imagine Jamaica: Hello Anita. Congratulations on your success on NBC’s The Voice competition. How disappointed are you by the early elimination from the competition?

Anita: Thank you! I feel grateful for having gotten so far. My blind audition still takes the cake for me! I’m always nervous, but I was the most relaxed during that performance. As for the early elimination… everything happens for a reason, one door closes, a plethora of other doors open!

Tess Anne Chin was such a hit on the Voice 2013, having won the competition. How much pressure did this put on you?

Anita: None, My journey was for me, fueled by my want, need and desire to inspire others. My goal isn’t to win, it is to develop, and cultivate a career that can allow me to empower others to live out their dreams.

Anita Antoinette performing on NBC's 'The Voice' Competition.  Photo Credit - AnitaAntoinette.com

Anita Antoinette performing on NBC’s ‘The Voice’ Competition.
Photo Credit – AnitaAntoinette.com

To progress in this competition it appears contestants require a strong backative [fan base, social media support, financial capital]. Can you comment on this?

Anita: Yes, having a strong fan base on the social media side is absolutely crucial as you saw with the Twitter Save outcome and my own experience. When I first started with The Voice I had a small following and then it sort of blew up almost overnight. I try to stay connected with the fans by doing status updates and letting them know what’s going on in my world. I try to follow back some of my followers and I do video journals when I’m able to do so.  I want to explore all avenues possible to keep in sync with my fans; this is something I am strongly working on. Change is constant and as the social media environment  changes, I want to be that much more engaged with my fans.

Although the people in her home country of Jamaica do not have voting rights on this American show, Jamaican artistes know that home country support plays a crucial role in their success. Having relocated to America at 8 years old, many Jamaicans were unaware of who Anita Antoinette was, and did not feel as strong a connection with her as they did with reggae artiste, and winner of The Voice 2013, Tessanne Chin. So we asked Anita to connect us with her Jamaican roots, and what it was like growing up in a Jamaican household.

Re:Imagine Jamaica: What you do remember about your childhood in Jamaica, and growing up in a Jamaican household.

Anita Antoinette at 6 years old.  Photo Credit - AnitaAntoinette.com

Anita Antoinette at 6 years old.
Photo Credit – AnitaAntoinette.com

Anita: 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. My father, Clinton Fearon would travel back and forth to the United States for his music career. I hardly saw much of him. Some of my greatest memories growing up in Jamaica were playing in the gully that separated the playing field and our little house on “Hill Foot”. They would play cricket on Sundays. My siblings and I would sit out on our verandah and watch the matches. Many of our neighbors were doing the same. When it rained the gully got flooded and I remember we would look down from our little board house at the goats, pigs, chickens and other livestock got washed away. I would see our neighbors standing close by to rescue those animals that all of a sudden now became their property. It was fun watching that. I love, love, love me some ackee and salt fish with fry dumpling. Love my rice and peas too with some steamed snapper!

Re:Imagine Jamaica: You are now an ambassador of the Jamaican Brand on the global stage. What kind of responsibility do you think this presents?

Anita: This creates a huge responsibility. First off let me say that I’m truly honored to even have such a title floating out there on the global stage. I want to show the world that Jamaica has a lot to offer. We are a small island but we always strive to put ourselves out there whether it’s in sports or the entertainment industry. We have so many amazing talents on our little island. I also really want to get involved in charity work. I look forward to working with the Rockhouse Foundation on a few initiatives. Giving back to my homeland and to the community in general is something that I am really looking forward to.  The Voice has given me this platform and I want to capitalize on it as best as I can. Jamaica is known for its Reggae music, rum, its luxurious resorts and beaches but we  also need to make people aware that there are other things happening on our small island. From a philanthropic perspective I want to make a difference for the children of tomorrow. They are our future; we need to invest in them!

As for her future, Anita Antoinette is working on her debut album. She lists her musical influences as Bob Marley, Nina Simone, Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu, India Arie, John Mayer, Amy Winehouse Bill Withers, Marvin Gaye, Tina Turner and Beres Hammond. Anita also enjoys painting, writing, drawing photography. She has performed on a slew of stages- both large and small- throughout the country, most notably, the Library of Congress in 2008. Yet, she knows her biggest stage is yet to come.

Please connect with Anita on social media:

Website

Twitter
Facebook

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