Straight people we love — CRYSTAL WATERS says voguing houses helped her come out of her shell and ‘come on down’
BY DANIEL KUSNER: Aug 31, 2001
After taking a four-year break, Crystal Waters — the diva with the narrow vocal range and wispy timbre — is launching a comeback.
She’s tight-lipped about her new single. But since Waters creates some of the strongest, hard-edged commercial beats, Waters is sure to win … the Showcase Showdown…
“The song is called ‘Come On Down.’ All I’ll tell you is that we sample the theme song from 'The Price is Right.’ And I’m Lady Luck,”she laughs from a cellphone after finishing a photo session where she was showered with gold-glitter.
Born in New Jersey, Waters comes from a distinguished line of musical ancestry. Her great aunt was singer-actress Ethel Waters, who popularized “Stormy Weather.”
“I never even got to meet her. Unfortunately, there was a family rift. And we weren’t allowed to speak to her,” Crystal explains.
But Ethel wasn’t the only influence in the Waters family. During girlhood summer breaks, Crystal went on tour with her dad, jazz musician Junior Waters.
Crystal graduated high school early and earned a computer science degree from Howard University.
After college, she scored a job with a musical production company and initially wrote a song intended for Ultra Naté. But Waters’ idiosyncratic vocal stylings on the demo recording convinced producers to turn Crystal Waters into a solo artist.
The song was “Gypsy Woman (She’s Homeless).” And Waters' cool-cat jam about poverty became the summer anthem of 1991.
Waters found her own sense of “home” within the gay community.
“Growing up, I was taught not to speak unless spoken to,” she remembers. “But the gay community was my first fan base. I didn’t have a clue as to why they liked me. But they took me in like a family member.”
Waters says she used to be painfully shy.
“It was the drag queens from the House of Milan and the House of Revlon who helped crack me out of my shell. They gave me lots of tips. Like how to have a stage presence. To have a good time and kiki it up,” Waters beams.
Waters’ crew is legendary for having fun — especially in the Lone Star State.
Just ask her back-up dancers…
“Texas is where the rumor started…. The rumor that after my shows, all my dancers have a big orgy. I believe that was in Austin,” she laughs.
Although she can lace hit-songs dealing with consciousness-raising issues like homelessness or chilling tales of child abuse (“Daddy Do”), when it all comes down to it, Waters says dancing to straight-up pop is a social necessity.
“Dance music gives people an outlet. Just to let go of some stress. And smile. Even if you’re dancing by yourself in your living room,” Waters says. “It makes me happy to think that somewhere in the world — at any moment of the day — there’s somebody dancing. At all times. Just people getting together to dance.”