wayna*When you’re raising a toddler little things like following up your Grammy nominated song “Lovin’ You (Music)” just doesn’t seem to matter as much as they once did.

That’s the case for Wayna; the Ethiopian-born singer who’s eschewed any jinx related to her follow-up project and immersed herself in a sound that encompasses all of her influences and observations over the last few years. She’s connected with a group of musicians in Toronto and their jam sessions have resulted in The Expats, a collection of songs with a new sound, meant to reflect a new Wayna.

“I Don’t Wanna Wait,” the first release is all about urgency, taking life in your hands and living It to the fullest. It’s one of the lessons she’s learned during the brief hiatus; she hit the road for most of 2008 and 2009 promoting “My Love” and the album is was part of, Higher Ground. While on the road, she began to survey the land and take account of the changing world around her as life grew in her belly. As her priorities shifted, so did her need for a sound that fully encompassed her heritage, view of the world and the influences of the band members. The aim is to live at her best, in life and art, showing who she is, even as her life spins around and up and down like a “Yo-Yo”, one of the other strong singles on the album.

Wayna is of Ethiopian descent and the rich culture of her heritage and influences of the region are prevalent throughout the new project. The Expats features slices of reggae, Arabic and bossa, soul, jazz, with a hint of pop. Yes, that about covers the world. The album’s title is derivative of the term “expatriate”, which not only speaks to the music makers’ being away from their homelands, but weaving their cultural influence together to create a cohesive sound. This was all part of Wayna’s journey towards self-realization; she discovered that to be at her best, she needed to be true to the stories she’s experienced and heard, true to the place in her heart that’s provided love and life for so long. The lyrics have always held the truth according to Wayna, but she wanted to match the sound with her soul and this collaboration is the result of that desire.

This journey has also afforded her with the confidence to step back in front of the people who’ve come to expect excellence from her, her listeners. She’s overcome the fear of the follow-up and is now rock solid with what she’s preparing to deliver on October 29th. She’s heading back on the road, engaging with the world through social media, because that’s where her fans are. She’s come to understand freedom; she’s outgrown boxes and become an innovator. In her quest to become fearless, she’s had to unpack all of the parts of her: she’s an African woman, who grew up in the Black church and loves gospel, but also loves U2 and Radiohead. She’s already exposed her heart, now she’s baring her soul, defining who she is, now.

See Wayna tonight (09-11-13) opening for Goapele at the Howard Theater in Washington, DC.

For dates and new music, check in at Facebook.com/Waynamusic or follow her on Twitter @waynamusic.