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Diana King gets 'Closer' to her roots

Published:Monday | November 22, 2010 | 12:00 AM
Diana King gets 'Closer' to her roots

Leighton Levy, Gleaner Writer

Closer, a new single, on Diana King's latest compilation, Warrior Girl, set for release next year, has already hit a chord with Jamaicans.

King performed Closer during her first set in Jamaica in many years, something she was nervous about. She wasn't nervous about that song.

"Mostly I sing about love, all things love; so I performed that song on a tour I just came off of in Japan and the band loved it so much they said, 'you have to do this song, you have to play it for Jamaica', and it seemed like it was well received," she said.

She was right. People swayed and smiled as she sang the words to Closer, which some patrons were overheard describing as 'powerful.'

The song is among those appearing on the album, which is to be released about March next year, she said. King, who records for her own ThinkLikeAgirL Music, describes making the album as a challenge. "I wrote and produced all the songs. It was crazy, most of the times I didn't know what I was doing. I just went along with how I felt and it took a long time sometimes," she explained. "But it was something I wanted to challenge myself to do and it's a great feeling."

100 per cent control

She is releasing the song on her own label, which means she has 100 per cent control over her work, something that all artistes want to achieve. "So I am happy about that. It's harder. Oh my God, it was so hard sometimes, I had to talk to myself not to quit but it's better in the long run," she said. King said she knows her true fans will appreciate the latest work.

King arrived in Jamaica for her performance two Sundays ago at 'Babyface's' concert, a little apprehensive.

"It was a few years ago (that I performed in Jamaica) and the last time it was one song because it was an awards show. So I did one song with a band, but it was one song. I guess, nothing happens before the time because I have always wanted to come," she said.

That, and knowing how tough a Jamaican crowd can be, had her on edge. "You know what? I would have driven myself nuts just thinking about this show. I was so nervous because I am a Jamaican and I know how that is; and if you don't bring it you're getting booed," she revealed with a laugh.

'I was just myself'

She did recognise, however, that there are advantages to being a Jamaican performing before her own people. "What is great about Jamaica is that I can talk to them and they know what I mean. How we talk, I can just talk my Patois, English if I want, but certain things I can say and they know what I mean, and that's what's special about Jamaican audiences and I was just myself and I think they appreciated that," she said. "I was just myself, and it worked."

Armed with that knowledge, she came to the stage at the National Indoor Sports Centre and immediately got a boost when the near sold-out venue gave her a rousing reception. Scores of patrons from the 2000-seater VIP section rushed to the foot of the stage, eager not to miss a single note from her golden vocal chords and snap photographs. She blew their minds.

Clad in an ankle-length black spaghetti-strapped dress and barefoot, King began with Ain't Nobody, a song made famous by Chaka Khan, but which she has made her own over the years. Her short but very sweet set also included Treat Her Like a Lady, L-L-Lies; her Billboard top 20-hit Shy Guy to rousing applause; and Say a Little Prayer during an encore.

King is expected to return to Jamaica in January for the Jazz and Blues Festival. She promises that when she returns, fans will get a lot more of her and her music. She only performed a handful of songs at the Babyface concert because of time constraints, she explained, but come January, "I will be able to do all the songs that people didn't hear (last Saturday) night."