Say the name Diana King and music fans the world over think, Shy Guy, the block buster three million worldwide selling single from her first album, the 6 Million selling CD ‘Tougher than Love’ comes to mind. Say “Kingsinga” and you get blank stares and the reaction, huh? King, whose new moniker is “Kingsinga” was a hit on two continents back in the 90’s when her name and monster jam, Shy Guy, which was certified gold in the US, crested at #13 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the US, #1 on the European Hot 100 chart and # 2 on the UK chart made her an house hold name across the globe. Shy Guy was also featured on the soundtrack of the movie Bad Boys, staring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence. Her last successful musical outing on this side of the Atlantic was in 1997 when her ‘Think like a Girl’ album entered Billboard’s Top Reggae Album chart at # 1 and her cover of “Say a Little Prayer for You”, featured on the soundtrack of the movie “My Best Friend’s wedding’, entered Billboard’s Hot 100 Top 40.
Diana’s soon to be released CD, the first in number of years, titled ‘Spanish Town Blues” is a tribute to her birthplace, Jamaica’s first capital, Spanish Town or Saint Jago Dela Vega. On ‘Spanish Town Blues, King, flexes her considerable production skills along with world renowned producer/musicians Sly and Robbie.
Senior writer Stan Evan Smith talks to eclectic King about, her growing up, her music, being sexually abused as child in Jamaica, and the way females are treated in the music industry.
SS: How long have you been singing professionally?
DK: I've been singing professionally for 10 years.
SS: Who were your major influences, internationally and locally?
DK: Many, many people but I loved the big voices of Chaka khan, Whitney and Patti La-Belle, The lyrics and style of Bob Marley and the dancehall vibes of Shabba and Super Cat and Michigan and Smilie. I loved "MISS LOU"
Interview With Diana King -‘ Kingsinga’ Respeck due-Body
SS: How would you describe your music, which genre best describes your sound?
DK: I'm yet to find one word that describes my sound but I'll go with Jamaican Soul.
SS: What are some of the obstacles you as female artist have encountered in your career?
DK: When I started one of my biggest challenges was being respected. I know that something U earn but mutual respect has to be there from the get go. It was and is still very hard for some members of the opposite sex to view us as anything other than a sex partner or someone to cook and clean. Your brain or creativity is never acknowledged till later. It's always feels like a battle of the sexes.
SS: Does your gender play any part in helping or advancing your career?
DK: It's great being a woman but I believe it's harder. Let’s face it, I’m black, I'm Woman and I'm Jamaican. The work is three times as much. U constantly have to prove yourself over and over again. Being all of that isn't always embraced. It takes a lot of mental strength.
SS: Do you think that radio, TV and the concert stage offer the female artists the same opportunities to be seen and heard as your male peers in reggae?
DK: No....Up to this day, even with years of experience and hits I don't get called much. You still have shows that are 99% male artiste. Reggae Sun splash US ( this past summer) and not 1 female artist. It has gotten better with radio and TV but still a long way to go for JA female artistes. I give thanks for the improvement though.
SS: What are some of the things you think the reggae industry could do to make it easier for female artist to break into the industry or succeed?
DK: Don't treat us like an after thought. More promotion is given and more money is spent on male artist and that’s not fair. Give us the same attention. Believe in us a little more. And pay us what we deserve. Ha-ha!
SS: What can female singers/dj do to improve and increase their visibility on stage and on record?
DK: Well I'm old school at heart (not in age LOL) and I do believe that somewhere, somehow a lot of female artist/DJ and women in general have lost the respect for themselves. We need to remember where we came from and how hard it was for women before us and represent with the utmost respect. There was once a time when men used to ask if they could touch or hands; now there's nothing left to the imagination. And then we wonder why we always get dissed. We were once Queens and princesses and now we answer to Bitches and Hoe's.
SS: What can the males do to help females’ artists get more exposure?
DK: Just give us respect, the same support and treatment that a male artist would get.
SS: What is, or has been the biggest obstacle you have faced as female artist?
DK: Just being respected. Your ideas, your input in your own career, your strengths. It took years for me to able to say I produced my own music. I have always done that but it was never acknowledged. I never got the credit. That’s not right.
SS: Why do you think that promoters shy away from booking female artists?
DK: Even though we are just as good, we are dubbed "emotional" That's not coming from me but from men I've asked. I agree that we are different but we can definitely work together. I've had the same band (men) forever. What they shouldn't do is categorize us. We don't all have the same personalities and work ethics but this is not only a Music industry problem it's also a corporate one. On the other hand I do sometimes believe they just don't want us "UP THERE" with them, in the back cooking some food maybe but not "UP THERE"
SS: List your most successful singles or album?
DK My 1st CD "TOUGHER THAN LOVE" (6 million in sales) and singles "SHY GUY" and "SAY A LITTLE PRAYER" also my live CD "TOUGHER AND LIVE" sold 3 million in Asia/Europe.