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 - Kristine W

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KRISTINE WIn the rarified and cutting edge realm of the dance music diva – where singers have to hit and deliver notes that thrill, truly touch hearts and souls with the words they sing and compel bodies to find the mighty groove out on the dancefloor ¬– Kristine W has proven herself an Olympian and lasting talent.And it’s only the beginning.She has scored 16 potent #1 dance hits and a record- setting string of nine consecutive #1s on the Hot Dance Club Songs chart over the past 15 years, earning Kristine third place on Billboard’s Best of 2000s Dance Club Play Artists rakings and landing this highly-musical and multitalented independent entertainer squarely within a pantheon of legends and major stars. Her new 15-track-tour de force album, aptly named New & Number Ones and released on Kristine’s own Fly Again Music label, revisits some of her past hits with new mixes and edits and offers new songs sure to also top the charts.The title of Kristine’s sizzling international Top 10 single, “Everything That I Got,” epitomizes her total commitment to making music and entertaining, the deep appreciation she shows to her worldwide cadre of fans, and how she meets life’s challenges with all she can muster and lives to the fullest. It’s produced by and written with the red-hot UK team Bimbo Jones (aka Lee Dagger and Marc Jacobs) whose remixes include tracks for Lady Gaga, Pink and Katy Perry. Kristine met them at the Winter Music Conference dance music summit in Miami and found an immediate rapport. “They have that same kind of goofy, crazy energy like I do, and they’re passionate about music,” says Kristine.Bimbo Jones also wrote and produced “Room at the Top” with Kristine, whose voice soars to the implied heights on the number, which also features her on saxophone. The duo also created a cutting edge remix of “Feel What You Want,” her very first #1 hit.The collection includes seven new Kristine W originals, including “I Get Up,” “So Close To Me,” Glow On,” “Busted,” “and “Through the Fire.” Past #1s like “Land of the Living” (1997) get a Subgroover edit, ‘96’s “One More Try” enjoys an expansive JRMX mix, “Lovin’ You” from 2001 is edited by Soul Seekerz, and “Love Come Home” opens the album in Subgroover style and closes the set with a Franke Knuckles Vs. Bittrocka Epic Club Duet. The collection is rounded out by covers of Chaka Khan’s “Through the Fire” (revved up for today’s dancefloor in two vastly different producer takes by Bittrocka and an “Iberican club mix” by Chus and Cebellos) and “Sometimes Like Butterflies,” a rare B-side song by Kristine’s heroine, Donna Summer, on which Kristine collaborates with Simon Langford and Soul Seekerz for a “tribute” edit that recalls the golden days of disco.Kristine continues to enjoy many and quite fertile and satisfying collaborations with today’s leading dance music producers and remixers. Most all of those she works with also spin in clubs to help ensure that her beats and grooves are in sync with what gets people moving now and in the future.Her chart successes find Kristine breaking records held by the likes of Madonna and Janet Jackson (most consecutive #1s) as well as Mariah Carey (fourth most #1 dance hits) and winding up in the top three of the last decade’s clubplay artists trailing Madonna and Beyoncé. While she has the talents of a diva in spades ¬– a spectacularly adept and gifted emotional powerhouse of a voice ¬– Kristine W eschews all the excesses too often associated with the term such as narcissism and egoism.Rather, 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 floorpuls ing.So how did a ranch-raised small-town girl from rural Washington State end up “probably the most soulful vocalist in dance music, period,” as All Music Guide says of Kristine? Due credit goes to Summer ¬– to whom New & Number Ones is dedicated ¬– who caught a youthful Kristine’s ear with her mighty and stunningly fluid pipes and instilled a lifelong love of the dance club beat and eternally evolving style in the child whose family already boasted four previous generations of entertainers, singers and musicians on both sides.“She had that big gorgeous voice,” says Kristine of the late disco music pioneer and superstar.“Her voice sounded almost like a gospel voice to me.And it was dance with the big background vocals and the layered harmonies and she also has a jazzy overtone to her voice. She was everything I would aspire to: Wow, that’s what I want to do. How do I do this?” Kristine’s mother also showed her that a singing career was possible. “She did it because my Dad passed away when we were babies and it was a matter of survival. That’s what she got a job doing right away and how she was able to keep us eating,” Kristine notes.Her maternal grandmother, who helped raise Kristine and her four siblings, was a classical violinist who was struck by lightning – “One of the few people to survive that,” Kristine notes – which threw her arms out of their shoulder sockets. After they were wired back in place, she could no longer play the violin, so she taught herself how to play the guitar set in her lap. “It just showed me the power of music because she continued to be musical, and figured out ways to adapt to her situation. She was an amazing woman.”And there was also her paternal grandfather, a rancher and competitive horseman. “He was like John Wayne.” Her late father was a rodeo champion and country music singer.” I had a lot of inspirational people around and nurturing me. I was blessed,” she says of her childhood.From almost the time she could walk Kristine was singing in church, talent contests and local Oprys. The music she heard ranged from the sophisticated jazz her mother sang to hard-core country to the classical warhorses and all between, plus the pop music on the radio. When she first heard Summer, Kristine saw how all she was learning was also a part of her icon’s training and background.“When you latch onto an artist like that at such a young age and just immerse yourself in their music, you pick up on all of their nuances,” Kristine explains. “She really was a huge influence on how I approached my music career, including taking opera lessons.” She learned to play guitar and piano from her grandmother, and took up alto saxophone at seven years old to help her with her scat singing and improvisation. She would ride her bike around her hometown of Pasco, WA searching out classic jazz albums at yard and garage sales. “I studied with jazz coaches and was in all the jazz choirs, church choirs and in R&B groups. Won all the local talent contests and then went to Seattle and Portland and Spokane and beat them all there.”Ultimately Kristine won the biggest local competition, Miss Washington, and went on to compete for Miss America, winning the opening swimsuit and talent categories (the latter by singing the Gershwin Broadway classic “Summertime”). The scholarship funds she earned enabled her to head out from Pasco to pursue her musical dreams.“I decided to take my scholarship money and head to Las Vegas,” Kristine explains. “I couldn’t afford UCLA, it was too expensive. I couldn’t drive to New York because my car was too old and beat up. So I thought: I can make it to Vegas and I can afford to go to school there. And I know I can work my way through college performing. And I did. As soon as I arrived here I started getting hired to do everything.”She was determined to front and lead her own band as her mom had done. “I heard a lot of you can’t do that, you can’t do this, you’re not going to be a female bandleader, it’s not gonna happen, you’re going to have to sing with somebody else’s band. I was like I’m going to sing with other people’s bands until I make enough money to buy my own PA and put together my own band.”And so she did, leading her group Kristine W and the Sting to prominence in the fiercely competitive Vegas market, eventually performing at the Las Vegas Hilton more than any other entertainer, including Elvis. “I won Entertainer of the Year, Best Singer, Best Band, Best Showband,” explains Kristine. “I had 18 employees. I was the most successful female bandleader probably ever as far as showbands go.”Record labels and production companies constantly courted Kristine with offers to sing every style of popular music imaginable. But her band’s specialty – molding pop and rock hits and classics into propulsive dance numbers – belied her musical aim. “I’m a high energy person,” she says. “I love the energy of dance music, always have. It’s really joyful and happy. To me dance music is like the energy of life.”So she took her voice and songs to Europe, where dance music reigns supreme and most of the genre’s cutting edge producers and mixers are found, and recorded her first album in London. In 1996, “Feel What You Want,” Kristine’s debut single, made an immediate mark in the dance clubs, soaring to #1 here and abroad and becoming a dance floor classic. “One More Try” followed for another #1 dance hit, and a third chart-topper on the album’s title song, “Land of the Living,” secured Kristine’s place as a new dance floor star. When the album was officially released in 1997, Kristine’s in-store concert at the Virgin Megastore in Times Square drew lines of adoring fans around the block.She signed with RCA Records and followed with more #1 hits on her 2000 album Stronger like its title tune and “Lovin’ You.” Just as she was establishing her career, Kristine was diagnosed with a particularly aggressive strain of leukemia and given only a 30 percent chance of survival. She was given an experimental stem cell transplant and spent two years fighting the disease while also raising two infant children. Ironically, songs she had written before being struck by the disease like “Land of the Living” and “One More Try” proved almost prophetic as well as motivational as Kristine struggled to overcome the disease. “My music always seems to give me the inspiration to keep fighting for it,” Kristine notes.When Kristine returned with Fly Again on the pioneering indie dance label Tommy Boy in 2003, She racked up three more #1s: the title song, “Save My Soul” and “The Wonder of it All.” Writing the album while hospitalized and recovering, Kristine further distinguished herself as an artist whose songs of struggle and triumph speak to the lives of countless fans as well.After topping the charts again with her dance remake of the Ashford/Simpson-penned Diana Ross hit “The Boss,” Kristine then debuted as a totally independent and self-managed artist with The Power of Music in 2009. Its seven #1 hits proved Kristine’s enduring appeal as a major dance music artist.Next up was a longtime singer’s dream project that also fulfilled a promise to her mother: Straight Up with a Twist, a Top 15 two CD jazz chart album on which she enjoyed three radio hits, including a sensual reworking of her first dance hit, “Feel What You Want” and a jazz rendition of heroine Donna Summers’ disco music landmark, “On The Radio.” Kristine also transformed such rock classics as “Stairway to Heaven” and “Take It to the Limit” into vocal jazz stunners, redid “The Boss” in yet another genre, and closed the set with her impassioned reading of the folk-pop standard “First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.”Now dancing again with New & Number Ones and “Everything That I Got,” Kristine continues to be a one- woman celebration of the power of music as well as determination, perseverance and independence. And the sheer ecstasy of the inspirational dance beat. When she sings “I’ve still got my pride” on that number, it speaks to how she herself forged a global star career from the power of her music and talent.And took the lead on her entire musical endeavor, including her alluring and adventurous look to staging her live performances.The song is also a statement her fans can well understand. “I’m fascinated by the many ways people are connecting with ‘Everything That I Got,’ which has become something of an anthem for the times we’re living in,” she notes. “We originally wrote it based on my musical experiences inVegas and surviving these days as an independent artist in the very challenging music business.“Yet it touches people on a lot of different levels. The song really sums up how people are feeling today. It’s about persevering, not giving up. These are pretty trying times for many folks, performers included. I hope my music helps to lift people’s spirits and also gets them moving on the dance floor, at the gym, in their cars and living rooms.”Kristine will continue giving her followers and the music she makes everything that she’s got. “I love creating the work and seeing people’s reaction to it,” she concludes, acknowledging how her voice is a blessing to be shared with others after all it has brought to her life. “It was 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 lotof joy to the world, and that’s really what’s important.” And so on New & Number Ones, Kristine W lets her voice, soul and spirit fly again.

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