Land of the Living – Kristine W. (1996)

Land of the Living album cover
Land of the Living album cover

The ’90s was a great decade for club style dance music. Once the disco backlash of the late ’70s forced the gay club scene to go underground once again, a new breed of dance diva emerged. What started with the Pet Shop Boys and Madonna lifting the profile of formally underground style club music,would end with gained momentum for club style dance music. Kyle Molouge, Ru Paul and C+C Music factory were just a few of the acts that rose to prominence during this period.
One of the most successful of these singers and perhaps least known outside club circles was Kristine Weitz or ‘Kristine W’ as she was known. Weitz, a former Miss America contestant was discovered in a Vegas drag show troupe, where she was said to have considerable stage presence, even in the company of drag queens. Of course Weitz was a woman, but one with an extraordinary voice.

She was often compared to Alison Moyet or Lisa Stansfield, but her material was closer to CeeCee Penniston or Martha Wash. Her first single which became a international hit prompted a major label bidding war. The result of that war was her first widely distributed album Land of the Living.

Co-produced with a few other dance music specialist, Land of the Living sounds very much like other mid ’90s dance music. That being, it has a slightly European sound with that period specific hopping horse beat. What really sets Land of the Living apart from all the disposable dance divas was Kristine W’s range. She could move from fierce to sweet and smooth – sometimes all in the same song.

It might sound racist or even elitist to say it, but it would have been easy to think of Kristine as another black diva had you not see her live or one of her videos. The irony of being a white woman made her all the more special may not have escaped some fans who secretly wanted an Anglo answer to the many manufactured idealized black divas of the club world. Her voice contained all the energy of the best club stars like Martha Wash, but arguably with greater range. Songs like “Don’t Wanna Think” and “Breath” show that she was one of if not the best voice in dance music during the mid ’90s.

The title song and “One More Try” reached #1 on the dance charts, while “Feel What You Want” nearly cracked the top 20 dance singles. Kristine W. has remained a popular fixture in dance music with each of her six or so albums scoring top 10 or better dance singles. Not bad for a white girl from a little town in Washington state.

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