New Music Friday: Thana Alexa's ONA
Vocalist and composer Thana Alexa latest album, ONA, drops today.
ONA, which is the word for “she” in her family’s native Croatian language, Alexa explores the complex theme of what it means to be a woman. It features eight unique original compositions and two outstanding new arrangements. The album reflects Alexa's Croatian-American roots, yet resonate with the many cultures of women who have come into her life and influenced her music. ONA ultimately embraces the experience of women everywhere.
In celebrating the feminine throughout the album, Alexa also features an all-female line up of special guest artists of the highest caliber: Regina Carter, Becca Stevens, Claudia Acuña, Sofia Rei, Nicole Zuraitis, Sarah Charles, poet Staceyann Chin, and ROSA Vocal Group, including Aleksandra Denda, Astrid Kuljanic, Tiffany Wilson, Shilpa Ananth, Valentina Blu Lombardi and Eleni Arapoglou - who specialize in Balkan singing.
The idea for ONA evolved over the course of two years, but started in early 2017 after Alexa attended the Women's March on Washington, D.C., "I have never felt so motivated to express my right to resist, to protest, to be heard and to support a positive movement of change." Immediately following her return from the march she composed the showstopper "The Resistance", thematically punctuated by the spoken word of poet and activist, Staceyann Chin. “Cassandra”, Alexa’s salute to the #MeToo movement honors the unheard and unrecognized women of the world who have suffered abuse, assault and harassment.
In Alexa's own words, "ONA is the musical expression of what being a woman means to me. It is the discovery of the wild woman spirit within me and the experiences I've encountered in setting her free. It celebrates the inspirational women who have given me the confidence to realize my truth and express it freely."
The title track, "ONA," marks the first time Alexa has ever written lyrics in Croatian and introduced ethnic sounds in her original compositions. The Croatian lyrics are comprised of sayings and teachings she has learned from her grandmother and the English lyrics are rooted in life experience with her mother. Alexa says, “It is a beautiful combination of the two most prominent female voices in my life.”
Alexa was nominated for a PORIN - Croatia's Grammy equivalent - for Best Jazz Composition and also won the international Jazzon Alpe Adria Composition Competition. She has since been in the Downbeat Magazine Rising Star Female Vocalist Poll for four consecutive years (2016-2019). Most recently, in recognition of the uniqueness of ONA, Alexa recently received the first music production grant ever awarded in New York City by the Cafe Royal Cultural Foundation.
Alexa is also one of the organizers for the upcoming streaming, Live from our Living Rooms Festival and Fundraiser.