Part Two: The "Queen of Dancehall" Lady Saw to Appear at Icons of Reggae
For the first part of the interview, click here.
One thing that sets Lady Saw and other female icons' experience apart
from the common woman is that their lives are also full of attention and
praise. Every day, she says, women approach her, thank her, and tell
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her how she's inspired them. Even Beenie Man, she says, pointed out,
" 'I love Lady Saw! She's my favorite artist, truly, because she's like
fine wine: The older she gets, she writes better.'"
As for fame, "I enjoy it, I take it in stride, and," she concedes, "I hide sometimes."
Her recent stay in Florida was one of those times. "My family stress me
the hell out, but they're family. They'll always be there. My man stress
me out by making babies while we're together and then he expect me to
take him back and forgive him. I forgive him, it happens again. I'm
stressed by losing my own kids and not being able to have none yet. I'm
stressed out by having to pay everyone's bills and all my bills." Hall
finds solace in prayer.
As accessible as she is, people contact her and tell her their problems. Hall relates a story about a young girl who called her and announced that she was going to commit suicide. Hall asked herself, "Why did God send this girl to me?" The girl had been raped by five guys, her mother lives in Miami, and her grandmother said they couldn't go to the police because the men were criminals.
Hall told the young girl what she believes: "If you kill yourself, you won't be seeing God's face."
"I'm already in hell, Ms. Hall," the girl lamented.
Hall told her the story of her own rape, something she'd kept to herself for years. Growing up in the country, life was peaceful and quiet, safe, but when her family moved to Kingston, Hall's whole life was torn apart.
"I've been raped too. I've never allowed it to break me. I'm still here. I'm very successful. Never allow people break you. Never let them see you broken. You pray about it and be strong."
She was inspired by the girl's story and her own to write a song about it. The girl later called back. She's still alive, and she'd heard the song. "If my story can help a little girl not to take her life," Lady Saw says, "of course I'm happy."
She believes that what got her where she is today wasn't luck but talent. "What I do on record is what you get onstage," she says. "The producer doesn't have to use a computer to fix my voice or make me sound like a chipmunk."
Though she believes dancehall remains relevant, she is disappointed in the trend of musicians paying off disc jockeys to buy radio time and even awards. But she's willing to keep up with dancehall's changing musical direction. "In Jamaica, people are saying dancehall has changed, because a lot of people not been in the real dancehall rhythm. They're making it like hip-hop."
Though Hall continues to explore other genres, singing gospel is more personal for her. She hums it in the shower. Sometimes then, words come to her, and she sings, "And where do I go when my heart is broken? And where do I go when words are spoken? I fall on my knees and beg the Lord please."
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