This week, Kristine W scores her 15th No. 1 on Billboard's Dance/Club Play Songs chart, as "The Power of Music" ascends 2-1. In the list's history, which dates to 1974, the performer is now tied with Mariah Carey for third-most toppers. Only Madonna (40) and Janet Jackson (19) have more No. 1s.
Since her arrival with "Feel What You Want" in 1994, 15 of Kristine W's 16 chart entries have reached the top. Only 2006's "I'll Be Your Light" fell short of the summit, peaking at No. 2. "The Power of Music" marks her sixth consecutive No. 1 since.
In celebration of her latest leader, Billboard checked in with Kristine W for an up-close look at one of the most accomplished stars in the genre's history.
Does the "W" in Kristine W stand for your last name, Weitz?
When I had my first dance hit, "Feel What You Want," in the UK, I did a radio tour, and every interviewer butchered my last name. The next meeting I had with the label president, he said, "You are going by 'W'!" Now that director Chris Weitz ("New Moon") is a big name in the movie business, everyone knows how to pronounce it!
What drew you to a career in writing and recording dance music almost exclusively? (Your 2008 holiday album, "Hey Mr. Christmas" threw a curve, featuring a piano-based ballad with Jim Brickman).
When I was a kid, I heard Donna Summer's voice and was blown away. I remember singing "Bad Girls" at school for a talent show and getting the evil eye from a few of my teachers (which made me love the experience even more). My mom, Donna Lee, sang jazz and standards and played the 12-string guitar. Very laid-back music, which is very much her personality. But I have always been full of energy, and dance music was just a good fit for me. I love jazz, and it is my roots, so I always stay connected to it and, after three years, have just finished a double-album of what I call "electro-jazz." Working with the great Jim Brickman was a dream come true.
What other artists, in dance or other formats, do you admire most?
Al Jarreau, for his amazing improvisational skills. Big Daddy Kane, an amazing poet and a beautiful person. And, he has one commanding voice. Luther Vandross, who can make you cry when you listen to him. And, Maxwell has such a cool, sexy delivery.
Are you ever in awe of your standing among the likes of Madonna, Janet Jackson and Mariah Carey as the women with the most No. 1s in the history of Billboard's Dance/Club Songs chart? The general public may not realize just how much success you've earned on the survey.
I am so honored to be in the company of these amazing women. They are so talented. Having a mom who was a young widow, raising four children as a full-time working musician, I saw her focus, as well as the underbelly of the business side. I always focused more on becoming a great live performer. I've built a fan base one show at a time over years. It has given me a career and fans that feel like my family.
Dance music is in a great place right now on pop radio and in pop culture. What is your opinion of the artist that has primarily spurred the genre's current swell in popularity, Lady Gaga?
Dance music around the rest of the world has always been popular. That's why I could not wait to go to the UK and record. In the UK, people used to say to me, "Dance music is the pop music of now and for tomorrow." I have always held onto that. Its time has finally come in the U.S., and I am so thrilled. It can be very uplifting for people, and that's why I have always been so passionate about it. I think Lady Gaga is fabulous and has given dance more credibility because she is also a musician.