One on One with Dance Music’s Leading Lady Crystal Waters

Photos Courtesy of Crystal Waters

Crystal Waters has made a career for herself in the recorded music industry. The dance music leading lady was born into a family of music geniuses; her dad Junior Waters was a jazz musician and her great aunt was Ethel Waters the African American blues, jazz and gospel icon. Waters first topped the Dance and Pop charts in 1991 with her debut single “Gypsy Woman (She’s Homeless),” which was later followed by a string of hits including “Makin Happy,” “100% Pure Love,” and “What I Need.”

Waters first emerged on the music scene in 1987 as a writer of music demos for the house music production team known as the Basement Boys; later in 1989 she was signed to contract with Mercury Records. In 1991 the stars were aligned in the right position for Waters when she wrote and recorded a demo for the song “Gypsy Woman” for another artist; the producers were so impressed they signed her to a contract.

Waters will be in Chicago on Sunday August 26 performing at the Chicago Black Gay Men’s  Caucus’ 8th Annual Lovefest, the free annual  “edu-tainment” festival takes place from 12p – 8p at Jackson Park (63rd & Cornell Drive). Pride Index had the honor of talking to Waters via email, the New Jersey raised-Washington, DC resident talked about her new single, longevity in the music industry, and plans to someday record a jazz album.

PRIDEINDEX (PI): Ms. Waters it’s a pleasure to finally catch up with you, what have you been up to this summer?

CRYSTAL WATERS (CW): I’ve been on tour this summer from Russia to Ibiza to South America, Los Angeles and back again…

PI: Describe the vibe of your new single.

CW: Hmmm I’m guessing you’re speaking of “Long Day” with Inaya Day and Stone Bridge Pure House. I think some of the dance music today is missing a little soul; real emotion that connects…It’s a lovely ride.

PI: Where did you find your muse for it?

CW:  I have friend who works at Fanny Mae, as you know the company and its workers have been through a lot. I’ve heard many stories over drinks, this song sums it up.

PI: You have been on the scene for over two decades what do you attribute your longevity to?

CW: I still bust my ass every day to stay in the game. I listen to everything, go to all the conferences  shake all the DJ’s hands and you can still find me in the back of the club on a good night. (LAUGHS) I love my job!

PI:  “Gypsy Woman (She’s Homeless),” “100% Pure Love,” and “What I Need,” are still being played at parties just as they were years ago; they’re all feel good songs, why do you think your fans love them so much?

CW: “Gypsy Woman (She’s Homeless),” just went #1 again on the Beatport House Chart and #3 on the main ( I re-sang it), I was SMH. I just thank GOD every day for those songs, they bring so much joy to people…I think the fans feel some of my personality in those songs allowing them to connect. It makes the song personal. Those songs always seem to conjure up good memories.

PI: I’ve read somewhere that you are related to jazz great Ethel Waters, has music always been a part of your life?

CW: Yes, she was my great aunt; we are working on getting her a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. My father was a Jazz musician; he had a hit in the 60’s and appeared on American Bandstand. I used to travel with him in the summer. My uncle was the lead saxophonist in MFSB and played lead on many hits like Diana Ross’ “Touch Me in the Morning.” My mom is good friends with Gamble and Huff; so yes music is a big part of my life.

PI: Given your last name did you feel obligated to succeed in the music industry?

CW: No, not the way you would think; but I am a jazz singer. I do feel obligated to finish my jazz album. I think that would make my family very happy. I’m working on it.

PI: Describe for us how you felt the first time you performed, if you could go back to that moment what would you do differently?

CW: At my very first live performance I remember having no fear, the stage felt very comfortable to me; if I could go back I would have taken a few more vocal and dance lessons.

PI: Name some of your musical influences.

CW: My favorite artist was Ella Fitzgerald, she always sounded like she was smiling when she was singing, and I try to emulate that. Michael Jackson and Prince are also my favorites; I like them for their songwriting and performance. And I like Gil Scott Heron for giving meaning to a song and Chaka Khan for blowing it out of the park. Chaka once told me that when I’m singing just say fuck it! (To yourself) and let the melody flow.

PI: What color best describes your personality?

CW: I wear black most of the time, but I’m guess red is best for my personality, I’m hotness. (Laughs)

PI: What do you like to do when you’re not performing?

CW: Ah that’s funny….Rest, I’ve been on the road for 21 years. I do a lot of writing and I love being by the water.

PI: You’re coming to Chicago to perform at the Chicago Black Gay Men’s Caucus’ Lovefest event, and the LGBT community loves your music, why do you believe you have such as large gay following?

CW: Every interviewer asks me this question and I still haven’t come up with a good answer, maybe because they have good taste. (Laughs) I appreciate them (the LGBT community) so much, they’ve been so loyal for so long (and many weren’t). I’d do just about anything for them.

PI: Share with us something your fans would be surprised to know about you.

CW: I practice TM (transcendental meditation) and I’m addicted to the Science Channel (I’m a member of SETE).

PI: What are your long term goals as a performer?

CW: I’m doing a lot of singles now but I’d like to do one more dance album and a jazz album. I’d also liked to write more songs for others.