It's all about give and take," said a sleepy Diana King. She had stepped off an overnight flight from Zurich, Switzerland, earlier that morning and continued to stay awake to speak to me.
Staying true to her word, she was where she promised she'd be — sat patiently by her hotel suite telephone at 6pm.
"Sometimes it's good to remember it's not all about me," said the Jamaican singer-songwriter.
It's this life and work ethic which has helped get King, most famous for her No 1 single Shy Guy, to the top of the castle.
In 1997, she handed over her previously written and recorded hit Treat Her Like a Lady to an interested Celine Dion. The next year Dion repaid King ten-fold when, having recorded the song, she asked King to join her on stage to perform the hit.
"The first thing you see in Celine is the discipline," said King ahead of her debut performance in Abu Dhabi this weekend. "She's so professional, so warm. What an incredible woman."
The love continued when Dion then asked King to support her on tour. "After we sang that night, things went to the next level. I toured with her in major cities and it was such an experience. When Celine Dion does a concert, it's a stadium tour. I was singing to thousands of people and the exposure was immense. Not only that, but I was also exposed to a different audience altogether."
King's career started 17 years ago when, aged just 23, she made an appearance on The Notorious B.I.G.'s 1994 song Respect from his album Ready to Die, a move which subsequently led to a recording contract with Sony Music.
Her version of I Say a Little Prayer — originally recorded by Dionne Warwick in 1967 — was featured on the soundtrack to the film My Best Friend's Wedding. In 1997, her run in the movies continued after she and Brian McKnight recorded the title track for the Muhammad Ali documentary When We Were Kings.
"I was honoured to meet him," she said. "He was honoured to be having a film made about him. Everyone was honoured," she joked. "He was fantastic. He was nothing like you see on screen before a fight. No anger. Funny and very humble."
Now living in Florida in the US, King's first impressions of the UAE mainly revolved around the heat. "It's the first thing that hits you, that's for sure," she said with a big laugh. "But I have a few days to explore and that's what I plan to do. I keep finding myself commenting on every building we drive by. Such wonderful architecture."
King's latest album, A Girl Named King, is due for release in September.
Living by her "give and take" theory King wrapped things up perfectly. "Much love to all my fans, because without them there's no me."
don't miss it
Diana King performs at Eight, Shangri-La, Abu Dhabi, tonight. For more information and bookings, call on 050-1446662.