How does one of the most influential, chart-topping, international “Dance Divas” and high-energy dance club performers start the day? With a simple act of gratitude and meditation. That might surprise people but once you get to know Crystal, you know that is a true part of her character.
Crystal gave the CARAVAN NEWS an exclusive interview as she prepares to come to Stockton to perform at the 5th Annual Stockton Pride Festival, August 27th at downtown Weber Point Events Center.
Her journey has been surprising, even to her at times.
Crystal broke onto the dance scene in 1991 with her international hit “Gypsy Woman (She’s Homeless). Billboard hits one after another, continued to come her way with her the latest “Synergy” topping the Billboard magazine dance club song chart at number 1 in November 2015. Talk about enduring!
“Gypsy Woman (She’s Homeless),” her first big hit, was about a real woman outside a hotel that would sing each day for money after losing her job. This homeless lady would put on her makeup, do her hair and sing. She had self-respect and wanted to look proper for those that might make give her some money. Even though the sound was a huge dance hit, Crystal wanted people to listen to the lyrics about homelessness. She actually was upset that they weren’t listening to the lyrics. At her prompting, the record company put a label with the addition of “She’s Homeless” on the cover. The song is just as applicable today in that that lady could be anyone of us; working one day and losing our job the next.
Crystal actually started writing poetry as a child and received numerous recognitions for it. She graduated high school at 16 and ended up studying computer science and business at Howard University. That’s a far cry from singing!
As she tells the story, “I’ll tell you what happened. I wanted to be a physical therapist. This first thing they have you do when you start there, is you go to a hospital every morning. The third day in, I said Oh no, I can’t work in a hospital the rest of my life I got very depressed because people were sick. Being that young, you get depressed. I just couldn’t handle it.”
She continues, “I spoke with someone in the (college) business department and looked into computer science. The thing I liked about computer programming was that I could work by myself. Like I write, I like working by myself. I was taught programming. I really, really, did enjoy it and the business part helped me in my career. It was good move.”
The STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) program came up during the interview. Albert Frausto, local computer expert with Mayaco Marketing & Internet, explained to Crystal that part of the STEM program is that they teach them how to do computer programming. She enthusiastically replied, “I wish I had that!”
She decided that business was not for her and she became a writer and backup singer for others for several years. She paid her dues and realized that this was her passion. Part of her duties with record companies was to write songs for other singers. “Gypsy Woman” was originally written for another singer but once the producer heard Crystal sing just to give him a sample of the lyrics, he knew SHE was the one to sing it! And the rest they say is history.
While Crystal has found strong fans in the United States, her popularity and music skyrocketed in Europe and elsewhere over the years and still remains to this day. When asked if she was surprised at her amazing following in Europe, she shared, “I had several hits over there. I had a hit “Destination” (2009) was the number #1 hit on the music charts in 20 countries.”
“House music is back in a big way. This year it exploded. It’s a real blessing.”
Prior to coming to Stockton, within the last few months her tour has taken her to Hong Kong, Montreal, and Peru. Immediately after Stockton she heads to South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and then back to the United States.
Crystal is a person of many talents. Her latest hit last year was “Synergy.” She did the whole video with a graphic designer with animation out of Asia. She’s also getting ready to do two other videos. “I try not get too involved but I want it to be different and with feelings. That’s what I look for (in each video).”
Being involved with social causes has been important to her as well. Many of her songs, while they are thumbing dance club songs, have a real message to them. She’s also been a courageous supporter of the LGBT community-- performing at Pride Festivals for many years. “The gay community has been good to me and I want to give back.”
“I started out in the 90’s and I always wondered why I was so embraced in the beginning by the gay community. I never figured out why; maybe because I was different and groundbreaking. A drag queen taught me how to put on my makeup! A lot of years with AIDS and persecution. I go to these Pride events nowadays. Many people today feel that it’s just a big party without realizing that they stand on the shoulders of giants. It wasn’t always like this. A lot of people went through a lot to be able to have these Pride events these days. A lot of people got beat up. A lot that went down over the past 25 years that got everybody here.”
She continues with wise counsel regarding coming out as gay. “People can tell when you’re hiding. People can see through that. I think you get a lot more respect just being yourself. I know people still struggle with it but I think it’s very important to just be yourself.”
Her New Album “IAMHOUSE”
On September 13th, Crystal will release a brand new album titled “IAMHOUSE.” While she’s had extremely popular chart-topping hits even up to the end of last year 2015, she’s been focused on producing singles and has not released a full album since 1997. “I’ve been working on the album for a couple of years. It’s going to be totally House Music. At a recent worldwide top DJ and music conference I sang it and they just loved it! I’m writing everything on the album. I’m really excited about it. I haven’t been this exciting in a long time.”
It’s going to be everywhere. True Crystal Waters’ fans and those that love dance / urban music will not be disappointed!
Words of inspiration for budding artist
In closing, she had some final thoughts for budding artist. Even after all these years and having such a worldwide success, Crystal continues to work as hard as possible. Her words of inspiration “You’ve got to get out there. I go to all the conferences and especially anything that involves music. Seeing your face and doing the “grip and grin” is very important. It’s very easy to do those emails. You’ve got to stay true to yourself. Got to have a good attorney. Stay focused. When you’re on stage, you’re not there for them to look at you. You’re an entertaining and your job is to make sure all those people have been entertained by the time they leave. So many young ones get all dressed up. Look at me. Look at me. It’s not about the money. It’s about giving more than people ask for. You’ll get it back in a big way.”
Crystal shared a comment regarding her trip here. “Can’t wait to see what Stockton looks like!” We can’t wait to have her here in Stockton and enjoy her warmth, sincerity and amazing music! Welcome to Stockton Crystal! Like you, it’s something special!
Favorite foods: “All my favorite foods I can’t eat. Pizza, wings, nachos and all those things you’re not supposed to eat. I cheat all the time. I have these two dancers that can eat anything that they want. I’m a big fan of Neapolitan pizza. Stuff like that.”
Ritual before concert: When asked about her ritual before each concert, it led to some interesting thoughts about performing and her desire to always put on a good show. “I warm up in my room with a vocals App. There’s an App for everything now” she says with a laugh. “I do a lot of visualization. I always want to give a good show. I’ve been doing that for years. I try to teach that to my dancers; you don’t just wait until you get up on stage. We do a fist-pump we call the “Power of Three.”
Surprising Hobbies: "I spend so much time writing. I do a lot of meditation. I’m very spiritual. I meditate every morning and just before I go to bed at night. I love wine. I love going to vineyards. I’m a big fan of New Zealand wines and will be traveling to that area (on this world tour).”