Divine Diva Meter: Crystal Waters

How three legends performing at WorldPride measure up


Track record

Although everyone knows her for “Gypsy Woman,” the Philadelphia-born talent has three albums and nearly 30 singles to her name. This includes such recent across-the-pond hits as “Oh Mama Hey” (with Chris Cox) and “Blow” (with Armand Pena, Harry Romero and Alex Alicea).

Her modus operandi

Feminist scholar bell hooks once described Waters as “fierce and politically on the job” — a description the singer still feels rings true. “I’m aware of the world,” she says. “I’m educated. I watch Jon Stewart and the evening news — that makes itself known between the lines of my lyrics.”

Vocal range

A graduate from the Grace Jones school of chanteusery, Waters’s deep contralto is all about projecting cool, snappish sighs, gasps and whispers rather than Mariah-high notes. To her credit, Waters chooses songs that suit her smoky “la da dees la da das.”

On today’s dance scene

“I’m happy house has come back in a big way. But when I saw Mary J Blige doing that Disclosure duet, I thought ‘Whaaaat?,’” she says, laughing at the UK duo’s recent re-release of “F for You,” featuring Blige. “They should have asked a seasoned house vocalist to work with them. I remember being on tour with Mary in the ’90s and she was not appreciating dance. She thought house was bullshit. Everyone was coming up to me in the ’90s and saying stuff like “When are you gonna make real music?” They put us down so bad that now it feels validating.”

LGBT connection

“Black women and gay men have strong commonalities. If you give trouble to a confident black woman or a strong gay man, good luck to you. Once you have life hit you in the face like we do… honey, you do not mess with that person! Watching Lady Bunny and RuPaul also helped me find my own personality onstage.”

What’s next

A house-styled album produced by DJ StoneBridge, the mastermind behind Robin S’s remix of “Show Me Love.” She’s also working on a reality-TV series called Unveiled. The series casts Waters as a host who helps queer people who want to come out of the closet.

 

Check out how CeCe Peniston measures up on our Divine Diva Meter.

Blockorama Sun, June 29, TD Wellesley Stage

Elio Iannacci is an award-winning writer and editor who lives in Toronto.

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