Tanya Stephens performing in Ilosaarirock 2012.
|Birth name||Vivienne Tanya Stephenson|
|Also known as||Tanya Stephens|
|Born||2 July 1973|
|Origin||St. Mary, Jamaica|
|Labels||VP, Madhouse, Tarantula|
Tanya Stephens, (born 2 July 1973, St. Mary, Jamaica, as Vivienne Tanya Stephenson) is an influential reggae artist who emerged in the late 1990s. Stephens is most known for her hits "Yuh Nuh Ready Fi Dis Yet" — the single was later featured on the Reggae Gold 1997 compilation album — and "It's a Pity", which achieved Tanya international recognition. She and business partner Andrew Henton have together co-founded Tarantula Records.
She began recording in the mid-1990s for producers such as Dave Kelly and Philip "Fatis" Burrell. Her 1996 single "Yuh Nuh Ready Fi Dis Yet", produced by Kelly, brought her to the attention of the Jamaican public, and she had further success with singles such as "Draw fi Mi Finger", "Freaky Type", and "Cry and Bawl". Her debut, Big Things a Gwaan, was released in 1994 (featuring Yami Bolo on a cover version of Suzanne Vega's "Tom's Diner" and Prezident Brown on a remix of the title track), and second album Too Hype followed in 1997.
She moved to Sweden, where she signed a record deal with Warner Music Sweden and recorded the 2001 pop album Sintoxicated. After returning to Jamaica she released the critically acclaimed Gangsta Blues album in 2004.
Her album Rebelution was released in August 2006, and the first single "These Streets" was a number one hit in the Caribbean staying on Tempo's Chart at number 1 for more than 4 weeks. The album was totally sold out in Jamaica and other parts of the Caribbean. The track "Come A Long Way" is a dedication to black leaders.
Stephens has a daughter, Kelly, born in 1994.
In 2006, Tanya sued American rapper Lil' Kim for plagiarism on her song "Durty" from The Naked Truth asking for all rights to the song, past, present & future. Stephens claimed that Kim used the lyrics from her song "Mi and Mi God", stating that "she even used a west Indian accent". She claimed that in 1999 Tanya was flown out to New York by Kim, who claimed to be a huge fan & owned her albums, Kim wanted her to record for an album, but her vocals were never used.
Her early material was lyrically typical of dancehall and drew comparisons with Lady Saw, along with whom she was proclaimed "the top female artists in Jamaica" in 1998 by the Washington Post, but later developed beyond what she called "the same old four topics" to 'reality' themes and even lyrics critical of homophobia. Social scientist Clinton Hutton said of her: "She is very intuitively intelligent and deftly tackles relevant social issues".
In a talk in 2011 at the University of the West Indies, she urged her fellow artists to be more socially responsible, and spoke out against the objectification of women in dancehall lyrics and the promotion of bigotry and violation of human rights, saying "The music that once spoke to and spread messages of peace and love, now merely judges, condemns and provokes."
In 2009 she made her acting debut, playing Nurse Tracey in the CVM TV series Royal Palm Estate. She also opened the restaurant 'H2O' the same year in the Coconut Grove Shopping Centre in Ocho Rios.
|Title||Year||Label||Peak chart positions|
Top Reggae Albums
|Big Things a Gwaan||1994||Runn||—|
|Work Out||1997||Joe Gibbs Music||—|
|Sintoxicated||2001||Warner Music Sweden|
|Guilty||due in 2012||Tarantula/VP||—|
|"—" denotes releases that did not chart.|
- Tanya: Collection Of Hits (2009), VP/Warner Bros. Records
Duets and combination singles
- "How Many Ways" (1996), Brickwall - Shabba Ranks and Tanya Stephens
- "Crazy For Your Loving" (1996), Sampalue - with Chevel Franklyn
- "Independent Gal" (1997), Pot of Gold - with Lady Saw
- "Cry and a Bawl" (1998), Fat Eyes - Bounty Killer and Tanya Stephens
- "Freaky Type" (1998), Hi Profile - Tanya Stephens and Richard Browne
- "Buck Them Up" (1999), Insomnia - Lady Saw and Tanya Stephens
- "Fire" (1999), Kings of Kings - Tanya Stephens and Spanner Banner
- "Come Nuh" (1999), Wallstreet - Dillgin and Tanya Stephens
- "Nuh Mek It" (2000), Jamdown - Spragga Benz and Tanya Stephens
- "Don't Take My Love for Granted" (2002), Xterminator - with Sizzla
- "Skettle 2004" (2004), Golden Kartel - Tanya Stephens and Cecil, B-side of Sasha's "Run Dung Me"
- "Enuff 4 U" (2004), Wall of Sound - TCC Prassay featuring Tanya Stephens
- "Dance 4 Me" (2006) - Mark Morrison featuring Tanya Stephens, promo only CD-R
- "Heart of Stone" (2008), Bass Inna Yu Face - Taddy P. featuring Tanya Stephens
- "Want Love" (2012), Kirkledove - with Marcia Griffiths
- Lim, Ann-Margaret (2004) "All Woman: Tanya Stephens", Jamaica Observer, 3 May 2004, retrieved 2010-10-31
- "STAR FILES …Tanya Stephens - musical rebel", Jamaica Star, 14 January 2011, retrieved 9 September 2012
- While most sources (Lim, Jamaica Star, and other Jamaica Observer articles state Stephens as her surname, some state it as Stephenson, e.g. Larkin, Colin (2006) The Encyclopedia of Popular Music, OUP USA, ISBN 978-0195313734, p. 738, Prato.
- Yursik, Patrice Elizabeth Grell (2006) "Viva la Rebelution!", Miami New Times, 14 September 2006, retrieved 2010-10-31
- Prato, Greg "Tanya Stephens Biography", Allmusic, retrieved 9 September 2012
- Sanneh, Kelefa (23 May 2004). "MUSIC: PLAYLIST; Reggae's Riddims And Crews". The New York Times. Retrieved 8 September 2012.
- Kenner, Rob (July 2004). "Boomshots". Vibe. p. 138. Retrieved 8 September 2012.
- Campbell, Howard (2006) "Newsmaker: Tanya Stephens - Dancehall evolution sparks 'Rebelution'", Jamaica Gleaner, 26 September 2006, retrieved 2010-10-31
- "Tanya Stephens Performs At Christopher's Tonight", Jamaica Gleaner, 29 April 2010, retrieved 2010-10-31
- Brooks, Sadeke (2010) "Tanya Stephens Is No 'Infallible' Mom", Jamaica Gleaner, 9 May 2010, retrieved 2010-10-31
- "Lil’ Kim Sued By Reggae Artist Tanya Stephens for Plagiarism". xxlmag.com. 28 August 2006. Retrieved 10 September 2012.
- "Tanya Stephens files lawsuit against Lil' Kim". Jamaica Star. 29 August 2006. Retrieved 10 September 2012.
- Fisher, Janon (27 August 2006). "Ex-Con Kim a Lil' Plagiarist: Diva - Hip-Hopping Mad Reggae Star Sues". New York Post. Retrieved 10 September 2012.
- Barrow, Steve & Dalton, Peter (2004) The Rough Guide to Reggae, 3rd edn., Rough Guides, ISBN 1-84353-329-4, p. 325
- Wartofsky, Alona (1998) "LADY SAW "Raw: The Best of Lady Saw" VP; TANYA STEPHENS "Ruff Rider" VP]", Washington Post, 9 October 1998
- Walters, Basil (2011) "Tanya Stephens talks female responsibility", Jamaica Observer, 11 April 2011, retrieved 9 September 2012
- Walters, Basil (2011) "Music has the power to shape society — Tanya Stephens", Jamaica Observer, 3 April 2011, retrieved 9 September 2012
- Gayle, Sheena (2010) "Tanya Unplugged - Artiste Rocks Montego Bay With Stellar Performance", Jamaica Gleaner, 4 November 2010, retrieved 9 September 2012
- Cooke, Mel (2012) "STORY OF THE SONG: 'Still Alive' And Fighting HIV Discrimination", Jamaica Gleaner, 26 August 2012, retrieved 9 September 2012
- Cooke, Mel (2007) "Tanya Stephens thankful for scholarship", Jamaica Gleaner, 12 August 2007, retrieved 2010-10-31
- Henry, Krista (2007) "Deejays go for degrees", Jamaica Gleaner, 9 September 2007, retrieved 9 September 2012
- Brooks, Sadeke (2009) "Stephens makes acting debut on 'Royal Palm'", Jamaica Gleaner, 15 February 2009, retrieved 9 September 2012
- Interview with Tanya Stephens on Jamaican Observer (2003)
- Robbo Ranks interviews Tanya Stephens for 1Xtra (audio interview, 2006)
- Recent interview with Tanya Stephens (2008)
- Tanya Stephens at Facebook