A mellifluous expression, it sounds as much like a meditation technique as a name, but a name it is, and a genuine name at that.
Born in Philadelphia to Betty and Junior Waters, Crystal was blessed with a name that truly rolls off the tongue. Still, if it sounds like an idyllic realm (there is actually a Crystal Waters Ranch in British Columbia and a Crystal Waters Fishery in rural France) perhaps it’s an appropriate reflection of her music career, at least from my outsider’s perspective. While the musician’s lot might be characterised by vertiginous highs and interstitial lows, Crystal seems to have found consistency over almost thirty years in the business. At least in the dance/house charts. I ask how she’s remained such a mainstay of the genre for so long.
“That’s a good question,” she replies. “I feel that it’s probably because I keep myself out there in the dance community. I attend all the conferences and go out just to hear what’s new. Song writing styles constantly change so you have to keep up with it.”
But if you don’t keep up to date with the dance music charts you might only now have rediscovered Crystal Waters, who had worldwide success in the early nineties with Gypsy Woman (She’s Homeless). And, actually, if you’re a bit younger than I am, you might only now be getting your first taste. In either case that will be courtesy of the new single, Testify, which is currently getting serious air time on UK radio. No doubt she had some presentiment of the track’s forthcoming success.
“No I had no idea,” she laughs. “I never know which ones are going to hit, I write so many. I wrote that song almost three years ago. I guess it’s timing. Everything in dance is starting to sound the same, it’s nice to hear something new.”
Ain’t that the truth.
Consistent success over the years is all well and good, but if I’ve inferred that it’s come easy to Crystal, I’ve done her an injustice.
“Typical day…” she muses when I ask if such a thing exists. “I wake up, meditate, work out, then it’s on to business. I’m self-managed: lots paper work, contracts. I’m already booked up to June so there’s doing the flights, hotels etc. Interviews. It’s usually 5pm by then. Then I go to my cave to write. After a song is written I have to schedule and fit in studio time. It’s a balancing act, it’s been going well.”
And if you think that sounds like a lot of hard work, you think right. As well as securing a college degree and raising two daughters, Crystal also held down a ‘normal’ job while she began writing music, landing a contract with Mercury Records in 1989. Go back a little further and you find this interesting trivia: at fourteen she became the youngest person ever to be inducted into the American Poetry Society.
Appropriate, then, that a twitter friend of mine and founder of the audiobook site Bibliophone, recently commented on the quality of prose in Testify. By now, I’m not surprised to discover that words are just as important to Crystal.
“Lyrics are very important to me. I love artists who write their own songs, you can feel the connection. I love the lyrics to Testify,” she adds with a smile. “I think I did an excellent job with them.”
For what it’s worth, I think she did too. In fact everything seems to be going rather swimmingly for Crystal Waters just now: a world tour, new album, and chart success. Presumably then she has a good understanding of what the concept means.
“Success,” she replies when I ask for her definition, “is loving who you are, where you are – in life – and loving what you are doing.”
And if you want to find success in the music industry?
“Study your craft,” she asserts. “Most people get in this business to be famous but they’ve got it backwards. It’s not about you. Your job is to entertain, make people happy with your music. Only then will the success come.”
Thank you to Crystal Waters for sparing some time in her hectic schedule. You can find out more about her, including all the latest releases and tour dates, on her official website: IamCrystalWaters.com.
You’ll also find Crystal on: