Kristine W: The Queen of Club Music

By Carlos Astrala

Named by Billboard Magazine as the #8 Greatest Dance Artist of All Time, Kristine W has proven herself a lasting talent. Through more than twenty-five years in music, she has consistency delivered songs that touch hearts and souls and compel bodies to find the mighty groove out on the dance floor. Her latest single, “Out There,” the title track from her soon-to-be-released album, continues her legacy, recently climbing to #3 on the US dance charts.

Kristine W launched her career in 1994. In that time, she has scored 17 #1 dance hits on Billboard and a record-setting string of nine consecutive #1s on the Hot Dance Club Songs chart. Her chart successes have broken records held by the likes of Madonna and Janet Jackson (most consecutive #1s) as well as Mariah Carey (most #1 dance hits). She is named among the top three of the last decade’s club play artists trailing only Madonna and Beyoncé. While she has the talents of a diva in spades, Kristine W eschews all the excesses too often associated with the term such as narcissism and egoism.

She keeps her focus on the art and profession of being a singer, songwriter, and musician, and enjoys a grassroots mutual affection with fans who revere her voice, appreciate how the aspects of life and emotions she sings about echo their own feelings and experiences, and enjoy how Kristine continually pushes the envelope to forge dynamic grooves and mixes that keep the dance floor pulsing. We recently sat down with Kristine and talked about beginnings, inspirations, and how much she loves what she does.

Thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to seat down with us, let’s get right to it.

When did you first realize you wanted to become a musical artist?

I knew I wanted to perform music the first time I sang with my Mom at an outdoor show on a flatbed stage In Columbia Park Washington State. It was a summer show and the party In the Park had a Hawaiian theme so my Mom, my sister and I had costumes on made by my Grandmother Mauriel. I must have been 8 or 9 and we were Mom’s backup singers. My sister was scared to death of the large crowd, but I loved it. I had sung before that show for Church and other events with my Baby Martin Guitar, but this was different, more people, it was exciting, and super fun!! I knew I wanted to create music and perform it but that show cemented it.

What or who are your biggest inspirations and why?

My Mother of course, Donna Lee was a great singer and professional working musician, also my Godmother Joel Wells also a guitar player and singer. I grew up watching the 2 of them performing as a duo after my Dad died when I was 3. Later they split up the Humdinger Duo and continued their successful solo careers. Aunt Jo performed on cruise ships in Florida full-time and Mom got a full-time residency at The Clover Island Hotel on the river. They were able to make a living making music and doing what they loved. They loved each other and always supported each other. They were as close as sisters. I was always running ideas and arrangements past my Mom. I called her over the years constantly for advice about everything going on with my bands, shows, and career. She was so Intelligent and fun. I miss her so much.

Donna Summer, Al Jarreau, Manhattan Transfer, Ella Fitzgerald, Diana Ross, Mel Torme, Luther Vandross, and several others were my musical staples of mine as well. I began trying to fuse Jazz with Dance-Funk _ Pop Music early on LOL.

When not performing or recording how do you spend your time?

I have a horse Hotel In Las Vegas so I overnight people’s horses when they are traveling cross country with them. I also have horses of my own, so I spend time riding and just hanging with them. They are so good for your mind and spirit. Better than a therapist for my state of wellbeing …LOL

You have so many hits, which is your favorite and why?

I think ” Land of The Living “is my favorite right now. My Mom recently passed, and it was her favorite, so it brings me comfort.

What is your favorite music genre?

My favorite music genre to move and live to is Dance music. I love smooth Jazz to decompress to and chill with friends or at home. I like to wake up to Classic Rock. I listen to Old School Funk and Dance when!! I’m driving. I crank Country music in my horse barn. I got all flavors. I listen to classical for musical inspiration too. I’m all over the place musically. I love it all.

What is your creative process when writing a new song?

I usually start with a title idea then that moves to a chorus. If I have something hooky in creating those two ideas, I keep going from there relaxed

What do you love the most about performing live?

I love seeing people react to the messages inside the songs. It’s so fun to see them sing along or get fired up when you perform a song they love. It is rewarding to watch the power of music connect people. What fabulous medicine for the soul.

What is the project that you have been most proud of in your career thus far and why?

I’m very proud of the vast sea of fundraisers I have performed for and lobbied for with my Rainbow Family. My album Land of The Living came out 1997 when people learned they might be able to live with AIDS. There was so much fear back then. The medical breakthroughs were bittersweet.  Very few people could afford the high-priced medications to stay alive.  I witnessed the problem firsthand In Vegas losing many show biz friends because they couldn’t afford to stay alive, and many hid the fact they were positive because of the shame factor. I was committed to help anyway I could.  The word Pride is very special and personal for me. The Gay Community has come a long way and I’m honored to have been able to serve my friends.

Do you have any causes that are near and dear to your heart?

I have so many causes that are dear to me: I’m a mom so I’m a child advocate, I have been active in all stages of my children’s school experiences.  Animal advocate, senior services advocate, a Patriot, a music royalty rights lobbyist, No Hate and Anti-Bullying advocate, child trafficking, etc… There are so many Issues that need to be addressed. It is never ending lol.

What is the project that you have been most proud of in your career thus far and why?

A project I’m very proud of recording Is my Double Jazz album Straight Up With A Twist “. It was a 3-year project with 33 tracks and my Mom was so proud of that album and listened to it non-stop on our road trips to Seattle, Portland, and Spokane together. That album brought her a lot of joy!!

You are a performer, singer/song writer and businesswomen, how do you balance all of that?

I think starting my own label Fly Again Music in 2008 was one of the most terrifying, difficult, and expensive projects I’ve ever taken on. I had no idea what I was doing but little by little it has come together. It was a bucket list accomplishment and I’m still learning daily.

If you weren’t a musical artist, what would you be doing?

If I wasn’t a musical artist, I would be a Farmer. I have been a small-time farmer since 2003. Currently raising wheat this season with my farming partner In Eastern Washington. I would raise grass fed beef if I did it full time or go into the hop growing box with my bro Karl.

What was your reaction when the state of Nevada named a day after you?

I cried my eyes out when the Governor of Nevada presented me with the certificate on stage at the Hilton. I remember my fake eye lash sliding down my cheek through the tears lol. and of course we ended the night with the Donna Summer medley so, more tears.

You’ve performed in Palm Springs many times. What do you enjoy about audiences here?

I have always loved Palm Springs. It is a magical place, always has been for me. So many great people and memories there.  I turn off from the highway and wind into the city as my heart swells with happiness.  The family at KGAY 106.5 welcomes me with Love and music. Pretty fabulous.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?

I think we are all too hard on ourselves when we are young. Love who you are, where you are, and who you are with. Take good care of your health!!

What is next for Kristine W?

I used to do all this planning but its way more fun to take each day as it comes. I just love surprises and I’m full of them… LOL Kisses to everyone. Can’t wait to share all this new music with you.

And that ends our interview but as we finish Kristine has one more thought.

“I love creating the work and seeing people’s reaction to it,” she concludes. “My voice is a gift and I’m thankful for it. It has definitely made my life very interesting. I’ve gotten to make a difference and bring a lot of joy to the world, and that’s really what’s important.”

Love you KW