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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

EXCLUSIVE Q&A with Kristine W, part 1

Kristine W talks like the girl next door with no attitude, no pretenses. She was utterly and disarmingly charming. A diva only when she takes to the stage, she was frank when she spoke with me about her beauty pageant days, her singing career (a multi-Billboard club music charter for three decades now) and her struggle with leukemia. I was happy to be able to get her talking with producer Bob Esty and have my fingers crossed we might see a collaboration. (Wouldn't that be divalicious!) It's all here in my interview. She will be performing this Sunday, March 15, at Saved, 175 MacDougal Street, NYC with Dj Escape and Dj/remixer/producer Hex Hector. She has a new club hit, "Love Come Home" and an upcoming new album for us to look forward to.

Ladies and gentlemen (and everyone in between and beyond), Ms Kristine W....

Buddy Beaverhausen: Thank you, Kristine for your time and for agreeing to do this Q&A with me.
Kristine W: Thank you, I'm happy to. Are you in New York right now? How's the weather?
BB: Cloudy but relatively warm, near 50.
KW: Well, I'm planning on bringing a lot of sunshine with me [from Vegas], so I'm conjuring that up right now.
BB: What can your fans expect when you appear Sunday night at Saved?
KW: We're going to do "Do What You Want" and just sort of check it out and see how everybody's doing. It'll be fun. And Escape wants to surprise everybody with what we're doing.
BB: You were born and raised in Washington state, am I right?
KW: Yep, farm girl!
BB: What kind of music did you listen to growing up and what influenced you?
KW: Oh, we had a really cool mix of ethnicity where I grew up, Tri-Cities, Washington. We had the farm people who liked Country, migrant workers who played Latin music, vacationing Seattle residents in the summer playing Rock and Easy Listening, Black railroad workers.... I was exposed to a lot of different types of music all the time. I was very rooted in soul and adored Earth, Wind & Fire.... Chaka Khan and Rufus.... My mom sang at a nightclub there. Standards, you know, like "You Light Up My Life."
     When I first heard Donna Summer's voice, that's what got me really excited. I knew, when I was a kid, that's who I wanted to do. And she was very glamorous! The stage presence, the big hair, the eyelashes and make-up, the beaded dresses!
BB: I think I recall you being compared to Donna Summer, especially vocally, when you first started recording, am I right?
KW: Yeah, that was such a compliment to me because she was my idol!
BB: Talking about Donna Summer and glamor, what was it like to be a Miss America contestant and a beauty pageant queen.
KW: You know, it was never about the glamor. I was raised by a single mother with four kids, and this was a way to get scholarship money. It was a way out of my life back home; my ticket to move on. So I got my money and headed to Vegas where I got my Master's degree. I worked all the time. I sang in other people's bands and sang whatever type of music they did. Back home, I'd been in church choirs and sang in bands. At 13, I was, like, 5'10" so nobody ever asked how old I was or for my i.d. or anything.
BB: In your private life, do you consider yourself high-maintenance cosmetically?
KW: Not really. When I'm not doing a show, like today, I have my lipstick on. No eye make-up. But we slather it on big-time at showtime.
BB: You have a slew of top-ten dance hits on the Billboard club chart. How many at this time?
KW: I have 16 #1s right now.
BB: Wow!
KW: And I have twenty records that made it to the top 5.
BB: Incredible.
KW: And I didn't even know it until Billboard shared that with me now that "Love Come Home" has made it onto the chart.
BB: Let's talk about "Love Come Home." What made you decide you wanted to cover that in particular?
KW: Because it's sort of underground; not many people have heard it over here [in the US]. And because I sang on the background vocals with Frankie Knuckles when nobody knew who I was. I was ready to record "Do What You Want," but the back-up singers didn't show up on Frankie's song. I was so young then, I didn't ask for anything. I didn't ask to get paid, or for riders. I later did a duet of "Love Come Home" with Franke Pharoah, of all people, for Our Tribe that I loved!
BB: You write most of your own songs and they're not fluff. They have depth and are serious songs about life and deeper feelings, really, yet they're so dancefloor-friendly. How do you do that?
KW: I listen to what people have to say, and the serious issues about their lives. It touches my heart. It's just put it to a high  number of beats per mnute, about 128 bpm or so. And the beat makes people happy and want to dance even if the song is dark.
BB: The only other dance-music artists who do that consistently, I think, are the Pet Shop Boys.
KW: Yes, I think that's right, too. And I love their music.

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