ARIETTA WARD, commonly known as Ms. Etta, is the the eldest daughter of the late, legendary Janice Scroggins. It was the sudden loss of her mother that became the catalyst to solidifying her space on the stage—a space that Arietta has already occupied for years.
Alongside everyone who is anyone in Portland’s multi genre music scene, Mz. Etta has been a staple. From Linda Hornbuckle to LaRhonda Steele, Ken DeRouchie, Tony Ozier, and Norman Sylvester, Arietta has shared the stage with the elite and on her own merit. You’d be hard pressed to find anyone affiliated with jazz, soul, funk or R&B that doesn’t know who she is. Yet only now is she on the cusp of releasing her debut solo album, a body of carefully crafted musical masterpieces.
When asked why now in regards to releasing her work, Ward says “Carrying on my Mother’s legacy is a huge motivation”. She also acknowledges that her mother did a lot of the work so that she and her sister, Nafisaria Scroggins-Thomas, who is also an established vocalist, don’t have too. Subsequently, Mz. Etta is able to successfully navigate an often male dominated and difficult industry – and she does so with a following of respect. “I got grandfathered into it [the music scene]. It’s a blessing because I can get into rooms that it takes years for others to access.” For example, Mz. Etta’s third solo show was at the renowned Jimmy Mak’s—a venue typically reserved for music royalty, not still blooming solo artist who haven’t yet released an album. And as if being booked for a show at the venue wasn’t impressive and powerful enough, Arietta’s show was sold out. That is the power of Etta’s world.
Arietta worked closely with the late Obo Addy and she credits him, amongst others, for helping her “work outside the box”. Addy’s friendship and mentorship was a blessing, even leading to her learning different Ghanaian dialects. Ms. Ward is featured on Obo’s last recording, which was released in September 2015. Arietta has also shared the stage with many local turned national and international stars including Liv Warfield and Esperanza Spalding, Thara Memory, Jarrod Lawson, Curtis Salgado, Lloyd Jones, Farnell Newton and far too many more to name.
By trade, Arietta is a licensed cosmetologist and spends her days as an educator in the field. It’s not really a secondary career but instead, a compliment and conjunction of her life as an artist. “Singers and Stylist actually have a lot of commonality” she says, flashing her warm smile that reminds you of a woman filled with wisdom well beyond her years. “In both fields, you have to create. “ The steady income from the cosmetology career gave Arietta the stability she needed to raise her now 22 year old son. “Music money comes and goes but in Portland, you can make it—you can definitely make it.”
As she plans to release her first solo album in Spring 2018, Arietta seems destined to be among those who will not only make it, but make it big. The album will not only stand as a testament to Ms. Etta’s unrivaled vocals, but it will also serve as a tangible contribution to the continuation of a legacy. “I am indeed, my Mother’s child. All the music, all the songs, these are my stories. They’re stories that need to be told, and I am here to tell them.”
Arietta doesn’t define herself by any particular genre. Some would call her neo-soul, others jazz, and still others R&B. But Mz. Etta is more focused on content and the responsibility that she believes every artist has. “Be mindful of how you deliver. Be mindful of your intent while delivering your messages. When you open your mouth—always hold that intent in the highest positive vibration possible. Artists are healers; music has healing power. Music is sacred.”
And from that sacred and healing space, we meet Arietta Ward. A name you’re bound to be hearing for a long time; a name that, like her Mother, will be spoken of in reference to legendary music royalty for a long time coming.
“With high energy, humor and passion, the unique sound experience of Etta’s World will surely have you wanting more.” — Music on Main