Entertainment » Music

Straight Up with Kristine W

by JC Alvarez
Thursday Oct 28, 2010

Always the crowd pleaser, dance-music maven Kristine W confesses that her latest release is all about the fans. Since the chart-topping success of her widely popular 1996 Land of the Living, the album that put her front and center as one of the most innovative artist in popular music; it was an effort that she has endeavored throughout her career to impress upon -- yet this time, the project had become a lot more personal.

"This album was totally fan inspired," she says of the duo-disc concept offering amply entitled Straight Up With a Twist. "Fans have been asking me for this album," and as proof Kristine W had printed and saved her fans' emails to her. "Whenever I would think I was crazy and wondered why I was doing this, I would turn to those letters for inspiration."

The inordinate collection of tracks are some of Kristine W's most recognizable hits set among other popular standards, arranged with a contemporary jazz flare that has given the diva's vocals new room to breathe. And if her performance on each song is any indication, she's been waiting to exhale. Yet she admitted it was much more than she could have ever imagined bringing about this labor of love.

"It was a lot tougher than I thought it was going to be," she says about the challenge of producing Straight Up. "This was old-school recording, like from back in the day, with you and all the instruments -- a full band -- all in the same room," she elaborates. If one musician failed to deliver, the entire song would have to be re-recorded. "Doing the live sessions -- finding really great musicians, that really vibe together -- that was super challenging."

Segue to jazz

Yet the results on the tracks appear effortless and favorites like the signature "Feel What You Want" have been reinvigorated with such panache and skill that each familiar song is bristling with new life. "It’s also a long process putting together the arrangements -- finding the songs that we could put into that [jazz] genre, especially picking songs of mine -- it was really something else," she cheerfully admits.

Kristine W, who’s powerful vocals have been synonymous with some of the greatest club anthems of the last decade, can segue easily into the smooth, soulful melodies of jazz. It’s when you first listen to her renditions of "Save My Soul" and the Donna Summer classic "On the Radio" turned on their ear with live instruments, elegant keyboard licks, bass thumps and that indelibly pure sound of hers that you grasp how special an effort Straight Up was for the independent artist to produce. "The first 15 tracks have the same flow from beginning to end -- it’s completely live and organic," and reminiscent of the music she grew up listening to, which is perhaps why she decidedly took this opportunity to dedicate this collection of music to her mother. "She taught me just by letting me absorb it," referring to the stolen opportunities she’d take as a young girl to watch her mother sing in her lounge act. "My mom was part of a singing trio -- and she was very inspiring." She’d cuddle herself into whatever corner she could to mindfully stay out of the way and indulge herself in her mother’s performances. "She always taught me -- and still does -- there’s nothing you can’t do."

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Watch Kristine W sing "The Power of Music":

Shaking things up

Shaking things up on the 15 tracks on the second disc is more familiar territory but still somewhat previously unexplored by the artist -- "That was the idea," she says, "sonically each disc sounds very different." Lady W is in no way timid to explore the trip-hoppy lounge techno-scene and offers some ultra-sexy, uniquely cool riffs on several additional reinventions, delivered with a twist. This approach is genius, simple and satisfying and you wonder why Kristine W hasn’t tried her hand at this before.

With Straight Up With a Twist the multi-faceted Kristine W simply proves that she still has so much more to contribute with her music. "I’m here to make music and have people enjoy it -- it’s good medicine!" She likes to keep things rolling and is in the midst of release a new single from her last pop album The Power of Music. The single is called "Fade". "It sounds so good -- it’s gorgeous," she revealed about the track which is being remixed by noted producers Johnny Vicious and Alex Acosta to tease a few of the names that will be working with her. There’s also a greatest hits package in the works that will no doubt illustrate her unstoppable two decades in music, and especially now as a formidable independent artist. "I didn’t think I could do this," she’s referring to producing and distributing her own music on her label. The thought of it nearly paralyzed her with fear when we spoke a year ago. "But now we’re doing it -- and we just gotta rock it out!"

And as for performing, it’s always about putting on the best show. While we were chatting, she was busily putting her outfits together for her upcoming appearance in Halloween weekend in Atlantic City. For the sake of her fans, I will not divulge what she has in mind accept that "W" is bringing it! She’s excited to get back on the road and especially perform these new hits especially now that the arduous effort of producing Straight Up is behind her.

"If I had known what an ominous job it was going to be... I don’t know if I would have had the balls to do it," she says in retrospect of this latest evolution of her as a musician. "But I’m really glad that people are enjoying it." The scintillating songstress is getting her ghoul on for a fantastic performance on the Jersey Shore. She’ll premiere songs from Straight Up: "This will be the first performance of the songs from the album since it was released." Kristine W and her band will be jazzing with the big boys on Sunday, October 31 at Caesars Lounge in Harrahs in Atlantic City, New Jersey as part of the Hallo-Queen Brunch and Tea Dance hosted by Joey Arias and Sherry Vine.

Kristine W also be appearing on Friday, October 29th at Club Worship’s Charity Monster in Atlantic City with DJ Larry Tee. And on Sunday, October 31st at Hallo for the Queen Brunch & Tea Dance at Harrah’s in Atlantic City as part of the Out in AC Weekend. For more information about her performances visit the Out in AC Weekend web page. performing her club hits...no doubt with a twist!

Kristine W’s Straight Up With a Twist the duo-disc is available through digital download on iTunes and Amazon or visit her website to visit the Kristine W Store directly and purchase a limited edition autographed copy.

Watch Kristine W sing "Stronger":

Native New Yorker JC Alvarez is a pop-culture enthusiast and the nightlife chronicler of the club scene and its celebrity denizens from coast-to-coast. He is the on-air host of the nationally syndicated radio show "Out Loud & Live!" and is also on the panel of the local-access talk show "Talking About".


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