To think that Madonna was initally perceived as a one-trick pony! Rising to the pop pinnacle with her Like A Virgin album in 1984, many music critics thought her peer at the time, Cyndi Lauper, would outlast Madge in career longevity. Three decades later, Madonna has cemented her place as a one-woman force in the industry, with her 2012 MDNA Tour the highest-grossing female concert tour raking in $305 million.
Lesson: never discount the power of drive and ambition. Lady Saw knows this all too well.
Drama with second-tier dancehall divas aside, she is keeping her head high above water, and heels — Christian Louboutins, preferably — firmly planted on the ground.
The hard-working Grammy Award-winning dancehall star is in the midst of a career comeback with her hot single Heels On, which sees Ms Marion Hall, famous for her raunchy catalogue of music, waxing poetic about the horizontal limbo with a paramour... with her heels on!
Hall called on long-time music artiste friend Shaggy to play her love interest in the song's recently shot music video. She tells SO that the initial treatment for the video had buff-bodied Olympians, but she nixed that idea thinking that Shaggy better fit her perception of male sexiness.
"I called him up and asked him if he would do it. He was in the British Virgin Islands at the time and asked me to send the treatment and the song. He called me back in minutes and said he loved the song and was in," shared Hall, whose brazen sexual confidence is imbued with both Grace Jones's and Madonna's assertion of feminine power.
The atmospheric video, directed by Renais Marshall, was shot at Lady Saw's luxe Chancery Hall home and alternates between solo shots of a fashionable Hall and her in sexy vixen mode (yes, in heels and lingerie) in bed with Shaggy. The mood recalls Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin's 1969 seminal hit Je t'aime... moi non plus.
Hall divulges to SO that the idea for the Heels On song was inspired by her now estranged record producer beau Lloyd James, Jr.
"I was home and saw him driving home up the hill and decided to get naked with only my heels on, and wait for him on the floor of the bedroom," she reminisced, adding that James was more than happy with her spontaneity.
As for their estrangement, which she notes involves his infidelities and fathering a child by another woman, Hall is resolute that while she still loves him, they need distance between them now.
"I don't know where we are at now; he wants to talk to the world and apologise for what he did and gain back my trust," Hall shares, revealing that she still carries the engagement ring James gave her in her purse.
"I loved him for 17 years. I see where he's hurting, but what about my pain? We still love each other, but I'm at a place where I am considering if I should move on."
What 's definitely in the cards for her, for sure, is an upcoming album titled The Alter Ego. Describing the soundscape of the album as "blues and reggae ballads", the 43-year-old dancehall icon said she already has 12 tracks in the can, including songs with Beres Hammond, UB40, and a track with Estelle also possibly in the making. "I did a collaboration with her on her last album and she would love to return the favour," she notes.
And what of the war of words waged in the press between Saw and fellow dancehall female stars. "I have helped a lot of people and they have turned on me," we're told, "It was one of Jesus Christ's disciples that took the money and had him crucified, so who am I to say?"
Make no mistake about it; she's been burnt. Going forward, she plans to be extra cautious in her relationships with not only women, but men too.
"I have a heart that is soft but I'm guarding it," she admits.
As Edith Pilaf would say: Non, je ne regrette rien.
— Omar Tomlinson & NMW