Part One: The "Queen of Dancehall" Lady Saw Is Still Bold, Now Stronger
Hall's career took off with Jamaican sound systems when she was 15 in the early 1980s after she took the name Lady Saw in honor of reggae artist Tenor Saw. She is the first woman to headline dancehall shows outside of Jamaica, and she won a Grammy in 2002 for her triple-platinum duo with Gwen Stefani, "Underneath It All."
When we spoke, Hall was holed up in Florida, writing new material.
She has her own independent label, Diva Records, and is working on a new, self-titled album, Marion Hall. She'll be flexing her talent muscles on this endeavor by including other genres -- like blues, gospel, and even country -- in her songs. "I'll still drop a few of Lady Saw in it. Not the hard-core Lady Saw, but I'm planning to drop a few dancehall tracks on it," she says, referring to the work as her masterpiece. "Two years ago, I was the first female Jamaican artist to really go and do jazz and blues, and I really blew everybody's mind."
The album will also include a song she did with UB40 singer Ali Campbell. It takes on a topic she's familiar with: cheating. "I also sing songs about cheating, because I'm a woman, and I've been through a lot of that. Broken marriages and broken dreams, things like that, that's what I'm touching on right now."
A relationship of 16 years had just ended when we spoke. "I left before he left," she says. "I didn't shed a tear. But I guess there'll be days when I'm down and days when I'm sad, but I pray about it, and God knows what's ahead of me and what's best for me."
The adoptive mother of three, Hall bravely took on a taboo topic her song "No Less Than a Woman (Infertility)." "It was based on my story when I had four miscarriages and was having problems holding a baby," she says. "I also touched topics about rape, because I lived in the ghetto for part of my life when I was younger, growing up. I went through things; I listened to other people's stories."
As one of the first women to sing explicitly about sexuality, her gentler side also recognizes the universal challenges women face. "I feel all women have the same experience. It doesn't matter where in the world you live."
Lady Saw will be performing jazz, blues, gospel, laid back reggae, and some country as Marion Hall at the Icons of Reggae in Concert presented by Effective Music and Entertainment on March 11 at Central Broward Regional Park (3700 NW 11 Place, Fort Lauderdale). The show starts at noon and tickets can be purchased at Ticketmaster.com.
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