Dance diva Kristine W to perform at Nashville Pride Festival
Kristine W is the ultimate chameleon. The beauty queen-turned-club-siren enjoys the professional freedom to go from black evening gown and gloves one minute to pink and blue dreadlocks the next.
Still, Kristine W knows where her bread-and-butter is. She’s topped the dance charts a record-breaking nine consecutive times and plans to do it once more with her newest single, "Walk Away." The track originated from a conversation between Kristine and Alan Rich, who co-penned her #1 dance single "Stronger."
Not to be mistaken with the Kelly Clarkson song of the same name, the former Miss America contestant says Rich initially planned "Walk Away" for Whitney Houston. Kristine W snapped it up, though, and with her on board, Tony Moran was instantly interested. With the pair's previous success, the DJ/producer has already said he will include the track on his new compilation disc. It will also appear on Kristine W's upcoming fourth full-length release.
A fourth generation entertainer who hails from Pasco, Washington, Kristine W began honing her musical skills at a young age. After winning titles as Miss Tri-Cities, Miss Washington and placing first in the talent competition at the Miss America pageant, Kristine went on to pursue her educational and musical dreams in Las Vegas, where she found success headlining her own show at the Las Vegas Hilton.
Numerous awards followed, including several 'Las Vegas Entertainer of the Year' wins and being officially sanctioned as the entertainer who performed more live shows at the Las Vegas Hilton than any other performer in its history - including Elvis! This award led to June 28th being officially sanctioned Kristine W day in the state of Nevada.
After conquering Las Vegas, Kristine reached the top of the dance charts in 1994 with the now classic anthem "Feel What You Want" landing at #1 on Billboard's Dance Chart and holding at the top five in more than ten countries worldwide. Signing with RCA Records and releasing the 1996 critically acclaimed album, LAND OF THE LIVING, Kristine catapulted to the top of the dance music spotlight with two more singles, the beautifully spun "One More Try," which won Kristine an ASCAP Award for co-writing, and the album's title track "Land Of The Living", in which the artist shares real experiences of survival and overcoming life's obstacles.
Finding herself in the executive producer’s chair for her second RCA studio album, Kristine W recorded the smash follow-up album STRONGER. Released in 2000, the savvy collection of rhythmic tracks, encompassing dance floor grooves, neo-soul and unadulterated pop, again placed the versatile performer at the top of the Billboard Club Play Charts. The album's title track "Stronger" and the timeless single "Lovin' You" both added to Kristine's vault of number one singles.
Overcoming a two-year battle with Leukemia, Kristine W then completed work on her next album FLY AGAIN. While in that process, she recorded and released her sixth chart topping single, "Some Lovin'." The track quickly became a hit both in the U.S. and overseas and was a featured single for the hit Showtime series Queer as Folk. The music video featured Kristine with the cast, including award-winning actress Sharon Gless.
Kristine eventually passed superstars Madonna and Janet Jackson (each with seven #1 dance songs in a row) to rack up eight consecutive chart-toppers. When her 2005 single “Wonder of It All” went all the way, it became her ninth #1, breaking her own record.
Currently planning the release of not one but two full-length albums this year, Kristine W will be performing June 1, at Centennial Park as part of the Nashville Pride celebration. Recently, she took time to talk with O&AN during an exclusive phone interview from her home in Las Vegas.
O&AN: You have been going strong as a performer for a good long time now and as that time has passed your work has evolved greatly over the years. What area do you fell you have had the most evolution in your work?
Kristine W: I think that I have evolved the most as a live performer because I am really in love with it. I feel the most comfortable in front of a live audience because I feel like a member of the family, so to speak. In a lot of ways my connection with my audience has evolved the most because my fans are very important to me. A lot of artists have a take the money and run sort of attitude when releasing their music but I have always wanted to keep a strong connection with my audience so I really think a lot about what they want based on the huge amount of e-mails and messages that I get from them regularly.
O&AN: You have perhaps one of the most rabidly dedicated fan bases of nearly any other mainstream performer on the planet. Why do you think your fans are so incredibly dedicated to your work?
KW: They are not just my fans. They are my family as well. I think that creating work that is connecting a large group of different people - gay, straight and otherwise is the key. It has always been interesting to me that I have such a strong gay fan base as a straight woman. I have learned so much from them that I am truly grateful. The straight world is hungry to have fun too; it’s just that no one has told them how to have fun a lot of times. Performing in front of audiences every night I have had to pull it out of them sometimes so that they know they don’t have to be three sheets to the wind in order to have a good time, but I really don’t think people in this country are taught that a lot of times. My goal is to help people learn to let loose and enjoy themselves.
O&AN: Back when you were starting out did you ever envision you would be where you are today as one of the most internationally well recognized performers in your genre?
KW: No, I didn’t. Sometimes it can be really kind of surreal especially when I am talking with people after a show. I will be talking to someone who is in the line and they tell me they are from Sydney, Australia or whatever and they tell me how much I have influenced them and touched their lives with my music. I have people all the time tell me that they met their significant other over one of my songs. It’s just really cool. That’s the power of music. I just feel my success is connected to my fans so I always want to be making music that brings them happiness. People crave good music and sometimes it is really hard to find. I want to make my music as accessible and affordable as possible so that people can buy my music and enjoy it without having to stress out over the price of it. People need to have their music because it is so important to their lives. I don’t know what I would do without all of the Donna Summer songs I heard as a kid. My life would probably have been completely different than it is now. Music inspired me to dream and has made it possible for me to have all of these great friends all over the world.
O&AN: What advice would you give to someone considering following a career in dance music?
KW: Being an entertainer is nothing like becoming an engineer or a lawyer or what have you, so the best advice I could give someone wanting to get into the industry is to be realistic. It is a long, hard road and there will be a lot of sacrifices along the way. You really have to be ready for all of the challenges and you have to be thick skinned or else you will never make it. There will always be people telling you you’re not good enough or that you will never be anything. You really have to want it more than you want anything else. You really need to start by sitting down and having an honest conversation with yourself. You need to ask yourself if you have the skills to compete with the best of the best. Beyond just pure talent you really need to educate yourself on the various technologies that are available to artists now as well as basic business practices. All of this is indispensable if you really want to follow this path.