Toni-Ann sings Popcaan's praise
Popcaan and Toni-Ann Singh

FORMER Miss World Toni-Ann Singh is beaming with pride at today's release of Next To Me, a collaboration with dancehall heavyweight Popcaan.

Asked if the song is a testament to their alleged romance, the former beauty queen neither confirmed nor denied the rumours.

"All I'll say is that there's only love between us; and a lot of it," she told the Jamaica Observer.

Earlier this year, Singh and Popcaan sparked dating rumours after the two were reported to have travelled together on a private jet to Grenada. They have been spotted together several times since.

Singh, the longest-serving Miss World in history (2019-2021) due to the COVID-19 pandemic, said the song represents the strength of her home parish—St Thomas.

"Since I was a teenager, I've been a big fan of Popcaan, and he has represented so much more to me because he comes from the same place that I come from. So, many times when I would say: 'Oh yeah, I'm from Jamaica' and people would say, 'OK, where in Jamaica? Kingston…Montego Bay?' I'd say: 'St Thomas' and, of course, when I'm greeted with the confusion and the 'Where is that?', I'd say, 'You know Popcaan? Yeah, where he's from! We're from the same place' and that always helped to make me feel strong and empowered… and very proud of St Thomas. People tend to give us reason to think we need to be ashamed or hide the fact that that's where we're from," she told the Observer.

"Even in my adult life when I was competing in Miss World, I didn't think anything of saying, 'Yes, I'm from St Thomas' because for so long Popcaan had given me the strength to feel confident about that fact. So, I've always wanted to work with him. It's a great honour to work with somebody who's such a giant in the music industry and who lent so much to music itself 'cause Jamaican music influences the rest of the world's music, hands down. So, it was a no-brainer and a bit of luck, I suppose. The rationale is that God is good all the time and I got a chance to create music with one of my favourite artistes of all time," Singh continued.

Next To Me will form part of Popcaan's forthcoming album Great Is He, Great Is Me. A release date is yet to be announced.

Singh said Anju Blaxx produced the collaboration which was even more of a dream come true because of how seamless the process was.

"Anju Blaxx is, hand down, one of the best producers. He was so understanding. This is one of my first times really getting in the studio for something like this. So, he helped me to feel comfortable and helped us to create something even more special I realised that all of us helped to paint the picture here with our different talents and skill sets. Together we painted this, so it's great to be able to work with one of the legends," she said.

Next To Me represents her first major release, but the beauty queen has been the subject of songs as she was the centre of attention of Afrobeats giant Burna Boy's Toni-Ann Singh (TAS), which features Popcaan and appears on Burna Boy's Love, Damini album.

Burna Boy is slated to perform in Jamaica for the first time on December 18. But Singh said she is uncertain if she will be given the opportunity to perform Next To Me at that concert.

"I can't really speak to performing at the Burna Boy concert. That would be incredible. I'm very, very honoured that he entitled a song on his album after me, but I always say: 'If God opens the door, I'll walk through it. If he calls, I'll answer'. But I can't speak to that," she said.

Singh is no stranger to the spotlight. During the finals of the Miss World 2019 pageant in London, England, she performed an outstanding rendition of Whitney Houston's I Have Nothing. She recorded an official cover of the song later that year.

Popcaan and Toni-Ann Singh on a private jet reportedly travelling to Grenada earlier this year.
Kediesha Perry

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