KingSinga Nuh Fraid Fe Talk; In This Muma Shilo Exclusive, She Puts All Her Business Outta Door
With unparalleled vocal power and passion, diverse style, edgy lyrics, exotic beauty, and a sharp, opinionated mind, Diana King is quite simply a star. Known to her fans as ‘KINGSINGA,’ she’s responsible for chart topping hits like “Shy Guy” from the soundtrack of the movie Bad Boys, “Say a Little Prayer” from the soundtrack to My Best Friends Wedding, “Spanish Town Blues” from Anniversary, Sly & Robbie’s Grammy-nominated album. She also co-wrote and was featured on “Treat Her Like a Lady” from Celine Dion’s Let’s Talk About Love album. She’s even flipped a fierce dancehall style on “Respect” from The Notorious B.I.G’s debut album Ready to Die. After selling more than 5 million copies of her debut album Tougher Than Love, King went on to establish her own ThinkLikeAGirl imprint, which will release her album AgirLnaMeKING—which maintains her unique style of blending reggae with R&B, soul, dance and straight-up pop. As a woman in the reggae business, she’s no stranger to adversity. But she developed a resiliency that helped her when she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis a few years ago. After a long bout with depression she rejected the drugs that her doctors prescribed, tried natural remedies, and literally willed herself to walk again. More recently she made headlines around the world when she decided to proclaim her sexual identity as a lesbian—breaking a major taboo in Jamaican cutlure. As you can see from our exclusive interview, Diana has always believed in staying true to herself, both as an artist and as a person.
SHILO: Greetings King Singa, how are you, love? It’s been a while since we’ve had a chance to talk. What has one of the hardest working women in the industry been up to?
DIANA KING: Hey Mumma, I’m great. I’m doing a water fast to cleanse my body and mind. Just like regular fasting but with water. I’m on my 7th day. The first three days were hard, but I feel great now. I’ve been doing nuff work!! I just released a seconnd single and video, “Jeanz N T-Shirt,” from the new album, AgirLnaMeKING, and I’ve been traveling, performing and promoting that. Since I’m now a DIY [Do It Yourself] indie artist with my own label, it’s much more challenging because I now have to do things that I didn’t do before—like foot all the expenses, manage everything, and make all the decisions. So I’m wearing many more hats. It has been a dream that took years—since the moment I realized I didn’t and would never own the rights to my older music. So it feels good. I now own all my intellectual properties so it’s very fulfilling. But it’s no joke. Mi physically & mentally tyad everyday, but it’s so worth it.
That right there needs to be reiterated. OWN YOURS! Anyway, you recently shared the fact that you are gay with the public. Has the decision to “come out” affected your life in any way?
In some ways, but nothing to make me sorry I did it. I wish I had done it sooner. Every now and then you get a bigot or two but I can deal with that. I’ve personally gained more. I have always been an open book, so it felt natural to just be who I am. I just had to get over the fear first. No one is immune to fear but amazing things happen if you can overcome it.
What made you decide to let the public in on such a private part of your life? I applaud you by the way. People need to worry about their own lives…not others’.
Thank you. I know, right? Alla mi bizniz outta door. I’ve always been myself from the start, except for revealing that. From my style of music to the way I do my hair to the way mi chat—everything. I am a very private person by nature when it comes to my personal life, but it just felt right to just get it out of the way. I needed to be and feel 100% real and live up to the face tattoo I’ve had for years, which means: “Love Yourself Live Yourself.”
I know not everyone agrees or condones, but I’m not seeking approval. I never have. I believe it is always best to be upfront so people know who you are and in turn you know who they are. We must always be ourselves so the right people will love you.
Real talk! You’ve been in this industry for decades. What would you say have been some high and low points for you?
There have been so many highs, but being able to still do this every day, to write and sing and have people appreciate and love it worldwide is a daily high. When you have been through adversities you appreciate the things we sometimes overlook, like health. I was diagnosed with MS a few years ago and told that I may never walk again, so even walking and dancing—naturally, with no help from drugs—is a big high. The low points I don’t even mention. I’m an eternal optimist and I know they can never stop me. I live grateful. Ah jus’ pure good vibes I stay focused on.
Wow. I applaud you for not accepting the negativity surrounding the diagnosis. WALK UP! Anyway, if you weren’t an artist, what would your occupation be?
I strongly believe I’d have been someone like Deepak Chopra. His works fascinate me—a cross between science, medicine, spirituality and humanity.
I can totally see that. I’d probably be Miss Lou. Outside of the industry, what are some of the things you enjoy?
I’m not an outdoorsy type. I enjoy time alone. I will not talk for days… I know it sounds peculiar, but it’s the way I am. When I’m not working overseas or in my studio, I’m in solitude or I go to Jamaica. It’s the only place I feel totally connected. I love liming at home with my close friends and family. It feels much better than going out to clubs and cruising round town. I have a phobia of crowds, which is ironic since I need crowds as an artist. God must be a comedian. I love to read and I love movies and films, I may very well have seen them all.
Yuh done know I feel you on the Jamaica part. What are you currently listening to?
I listen to everything, no set favorite. The new music to keep me updated but I mostly listen to older ’70s to ’90s R&B, pop, rap, reggae music. Chaka, Anita, Bob, Super Cat, and mi love disco. I must admit though, I listen to my own music a lot so I stay true and focused on my own style. Some things I choose to let in. Like, I love dubstep but I don’t get too distracted by what I hear.
What’s your view on the state of our reggae/dancehall industry?
This question always get me heated because I have so many views. We don’t have an industry. We look outside too much. No disrespect intended, but we are always looking for a man—usually a white man—to help us cross. When are we gonna take control of what we got right here? I know I don’t do authentic reggae or dancehall, but I realize from early while traveling the world as a backup singer that for me to be a standout artist I had to keep my roots present, because I saw how Jamaican music affected people in a positive way and I felt proud. The younger artists nowadays don’t look back to learn. Many female artists don’t even know that Grace Jones comes from Spanish Town—and so do I. Reggae artists want acceptance so much that they don’t believe the music of our country and our culture is good enough. Even though it has been proven to last. People everywhere else can see it except us… Blinded by the hype so they try to fit in to have a better chance of being played or get a “buss.” It seems the best way to be, but it’s wrong thinking. We all cannot be Beyonce or Gaga. Why don’t we strive to be the next Bob? It’s our culture that makes us unique and different. It’s hard to imagine if our elders in music had thought this way—and they had a lot of pressure.
The worst is how we complain when other artists from abroad do reggae and hit it big when all the time we have it right in our hands. How do we just chill back suh and jus a pree other people’s genres and dialect? We just let outsiders “study up wi ting” and come and do our music better than us? We need to recognize our worth. We need education about the history and the business. We need to have more pride in the music that we created. It’s deep.
Wheeew! Lawddd DK, come outta mi head! Gimme a second while mi salute yuh! BRAP! Ok…soo, 2012 is almost at an end…did you fulfill all your resolutions, or did you not make any? (I know I didn’t)
I don’t make those at all. It works for many but for me it’s a recipe for failure. I don’t even make long-term plans. Nothing I’ve ever done in a big way was ever planned, and my best experiences have been spontaneous. I choose to just go with the flow… My own flow. I take things as they come and make decisions that feel right and good for me. I know things can change quickly so my mind is set to that, always open to change and ready to adapt if I need to… Yuh kno like a green lizard or chameleon.
We sure think alike. We mus related. OK, right about here I like to give everyone I chat with a chance to just say what they want to say—anything I might have neglected to ask. Feel free to talk up…
I’m going way off here but here goes: We are one. Bob Marley and John Lennon were right. We must learn to live together in love, respect, compassion and peace in spite of our differences and take care of each other. We must evolve with the times. No one is better than nor less than. We all want and need the same things. This is the only way to move ahead in a positive way and a brighter better future. And be good to the music because it is nature’s therapy. I think my “water fasting’ is making me super emotional but yeah… that’s what I have to say for now. Thanx Mumma.
I thank you and I salute you King Singa. Real person! I only hope the eyes that will benefit from your words most actually take the time to read this. More blessings and ONE LOVE!