POWER BALLAD: "I tap into what's out there now," the singer says of her musical sensibilities.
In her stage performances (rendering tunes like "Fly Away," "Hard Way" and her most recent chart-climber "Bang Bang"), Ikaya Blair comes across as the round-the-way chick with attitude and big voice who sings from the gut. Offstage, you'd be hard-pressed to find a more delicate flower. Chatting with TALLAWAH in her Ranny Williams dressing room following a knockout performance at the National Festival Song competition on Saturday night, the gritty songstress opens up on matters of identity, career success, and female empowerment.
TALLAWAH: The bold subject matters you tackle in your music range from our harsh socio-economic realities to abusive relationships. Why those topics?
Ikaya: Everybody has their ups and downs when it comes to being in a relationship or being a survivor, so I sing about reality. I tap into what's out there now and just put it to pen and paper. We all go through a rough phase in our relationships, whether its cheating, being manipulated or being abused. We all go through it.
So how do you define yourself as an artiste?
I'm a very soulful artiste, and my music reflects that. My inspiration comes from the fans and everyday living; what we're going through as a society. People around me inspire me, so I have a lot to draw on as an artiste.
How do you feel about being a Jamaican woman at this critical point in our nation's history?
How do I feel? I'm making sure I do the hard work that it will take to make me even more successful. (Laughs). Moving forward and putting in the work. The songs will speak for themselves and doing good music will speak for itself. So I'm just gonna continue doing good music.
Be honest: How do you really feel about the Etana comparisons?
She's a good artiste, and I love her music. It doesn't bother me at all.
As history will attest, one of the constant refrains among women in local entertainment circles is the 'Can't we all just get along?' catchall. What has been your experience in the biz so far, in terms of getting along with other female entertainers?
I think we need more unity in the business. That's one of the things we really need to work on as females. Women empowerment and supporting each other. Personally, I don't have anything against any other female artiste. I love everyone that's out there right now and doing their thing. I don't have beef with anyone.
What is the biggest misconception people have about you?
I don't know why some people think I am hype. Maybe it's because I'm more of a reserved kind of person. I don't speak a lot, and if I go out I'll say hi and then I'll just stay in the corner. But they don't know seh ah just shy mi shy.
Yes. They interpret it the wrong way. I'm very, very shy.
> Watch the video for Ikaya's latest record "Bang Bang"