Friday, July 12, 2013

July 12: Jamaican reggae singer Lady Saw – dubbed the female Bob Marley - is 45-years-old today.

Marion Hall – AKA Lady Saw - was born on 12 July 1968 in Galina, Saint Mary, Jamaica. She has been called the Female Bob Marley and “the First Lady of Dance hall.” She is the first female deejay to win a Grammy Award and to be certified a triple -platinum artist. She is also the first woman to headline dance hall shows outside her native Jamaica.

At the age of 15, she took the name Lady Saw after the famous Jamaican Deejay Tenor Saw, whose style she was said to emulate. She quit a sewing job at The Free Zone on the outskirts of Kingston and began performing with local sound systems. She was signed to the then small Jamaican label VP Records; now a major label for many reggae artists.

She debuted in 1994 with “Lover Girl.” Her performance on the Jermaine Fagan track, “Life” brought her to the attention of a wider audience. Lady Saw’s first success began at the beginning of the 1990s.

While lyrics about guns and masculine themes dominated the dance halls of West Kingston, she sang sexually explicit lyrics, known as “slackness,” from her perspective as a female.

Recording for the local Diamond label, she released early hits like “If Him Lef” and “Stab Out de Meat.” At that time, she also became known picking men from the audience - or her own band members - to simulate sex acts with on stage.

Lady Saw was banned from many events due to her lyrics. As a female, Lady Saw endured censorship and even outright banning in more places. She often addressed controversial topics such as unfaithful lovers, female degradation, and safe sex in the wake of the emergence of AIDS (with her single “Condom”).

Subsequent hits like “No Long Talking,” “Sycamore Tree,” and “Find a Good Man” further fueled her success as Jamaica’s most prominent female deejay. These also were the first songs to gain exposure in the U.S. Lady Saw has also collaborated with her male and female peers on several songs, including artists outside of the dance hall genre: Missy Elliott, Eve (rapper), Lil’ Kim, Vitamin C and Foxy Brown. In 1999, Lady Saw released the album “99 Ways.”

After a six-year break, in 2004, she released Strip Tease. It has been called her most balanced album to date. “I’ve Got Your Man” had significant video and radio airplay in the U.S and peaked at #85 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles and Tracks chart. In 2007, she released Walk Out. The album debuted at number 8 on the Reggae Albums chart.

In 2010, Lady Saw released her eighth studio album, My Way. The album was her first release on her own record label, Divas Records. In November 2012, Lady Saw announced that she was turning her back on dance hall and would be concentrating on Gospel music in future.


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