LADY SAW - Came, saw... still conquering
DANCEHALL diva Lady Saw has enjoyed a prolific career, easily one of the most successful in a genre known for its share of one-hit wonders and flash-in-the-pans.
After more than 22 years in the game, the 43-year-old deejay is still a hot number.
"I am still durable as an artiste. Promoters still call me for shows and nobody is complaining about the price that I charge them," the feisty Saw told Splash. "I am still able to pull a crowd each time I perform. I have the body of a 25-year-old and age means nothing to me. When I get old, I'm still going to be doing what I am doing," she continued.
The dancehall mainstay, who was born Marion Hall in Galina, St Mary, got her big break in the early 1990s. After honing her skills on local sound systems, she set her sights on Kingston where she hooked up with the Stereo One sound system.
"When I was a teenager I would go to the dances even though I couldn't afford to pay to get inside, I would still find a way to get in," she recalled. "From there I would ask the selector to give me a touch on the microphone."
It was at one of those dances that Saw met producers Castro Brown and Garfield 'Sampalue' Phillips from Diamond Rush Records.
Her first recording was for a producer called Piper. But it was the song Love Me or Lef Me for Olive Shaw's (since deceased) Capricorn International label that got some traction on the airwaves.
Saw followed up with Half and Half Love Affair for producer Noel Browne's New Name Muzik label. Her next song, the X-rated If Him Lef, was a hit and Saw's career took off.
"When I started out I was just another female artiste getting the attention that I needed. Sampalue would go to the distributors with the records and they told him that female artistes don't sell," Saw said. "It was a bit discouraging but we still continued to push. And one night I was at a Stone Love dance and the song If Him Lef started to play and it mash up the dance. I stood there in awe; I just couldn't believe how the people reacted to the song."
Other hits like Good Man for Diamond Rush topped charts in Jamaica and overseas. Mama Don't Worry, Stab Out the Meat and It's Raining established the outrageous Saw as a dancehall force.
She later teamed with Beenie Man for Healing, which is considered one of dancehall's classic recordings. She also collaborated with Luciano, Dennis Brown, Bounty Killer and Beres Hammond.
In the late 1990s, Saw maintained her hit run with Sycamore Tree, Dial Tone, Hoist it Up, No Long Talking, Glory be to God, and Woman We Name.
Your Boyfriend, Chat to Mi Back, Loser, Dreaming of You, Sunday to Sunday and Been So Long are some of her recent hits.
She has enjoyed international attention with Beenie Man on the song Boss Man which entered some of Billboard magazine's smaller charts.
In 1999, Saw had even greater success with Elektra Records artiste Vitamin C on the pop hit Smile which peaked at number seven on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Sales chart; number 21 on the Top 40 Mainstream chart and number 18 on the Hot 100. In New Zealand the single peaked at number 13 and stalled at number 29 on the Canadian pop chart.
Smile went gold in the United States and was certified by the Recording Industry Association of America for sales of 500,000 copies.
Three years later, Saw again tasted international success, but on a larger scale. She collaborated with pop band No Doubt on the single Underneath it All which was eventually certified triple platinum for sales of over three million copies.
That song peaked at number three on the Billboard Hot 100 and won a Grammy Award for Best Performance by a Duo or Group.
Saw rates performing with No Doubt in front of thousands of fans as a career highlight.
"That performance was major for me. When we finished performing Gwen (Stefani) said to me, 'Saw you were the star of the show, why don't you join us on the rest of the tour?' Being at the Grammys hearing the members of the group mentioning my name on stage when they were accepting the Grammy for the song that we did. That was also a good moment for me," Saw reminisced.
She says there has never been pressure to reinvent herself to stay current.
"It hasn't been a major concern to me. People love me in a certain way. Sometimes it makes me blush or cry to see the outpouring of love that the fans give me. I love to do what comes naturally, which is to perform," Saw said.