Sunday, March 15, 2015

Crystal Waters – "Gypsy Woman (She's Homeless)" (1991)

She's just like you and me
But she's homeless . . . she's homeless

You've heard of the Emmys and the Grammys.  But have you heard of the Wammies?  (Now that I think about it, shouldn't the Wammies be the Wammys?)

The Wammies are awards given each year by the Washington Area Music Association (or "WAMA") to recognize the musical accomplishments of musicians in the DMV – meaning the District of Columbia and its Maryland and Virginia suburbs.

The 29th Wammies gala will be held tonight at 8 PM at the State Theatre in Falls Church, VA.  I understand that good seats are still available.

I wish I could attend the Wammies but ESPN is showing I Hate Christian Laettner tonight – part of its wonderful 30 for 30 film series – and I really want to see it.

Wammies attendees lining
up at the State Theatre
WAMA had to disqualify a number of Wammies ballots this year.  Members are not required to nominate artists in each of the dozens of categories honored at the Wammies, but if you choose to nominate someone in a particular category – say, "Bluegrass Group" or "Classical Chamber Ensemble" or "Roots Rock Instrumentalist" – you must nominate more than just one artist in that category.  

It seems that a number of the voters in this year's Wammies nominated just one artist – themselves.  So WAMA had to take a mulligan and reopen the voting.

The 2011 Wammies
If you're a Washington-area professional musician and you aren't nominated for the Wammies, you probably should find a new career.  If my count is correct, there are a staggering 427 different groups and solo artists on this year's Wammies ballot.  I don't go out to listen to live music by local artists very often, so I've heard of only a handful of the nominated artists. 

The WAMA Hall of Fame was created in 1985 and currently has 70-odd members, the oddest of which is definitely Francis Scott Key.  Key may have written the words for "The Star-Spangled Banner," but I don't think writing the words to just one song makes you a musician – even if that song was a really big hit.

The Starland Vocal Band is in the WAMA Hall of Fame, but Crystal Waters isn't.  (Quelle horreur!)  

Crystal Waters
Waters (whose great-aunt was the legendary singer Ethel Waters) began writing poetry shortly after moving to Washington when she was a child.  When she was only 14, she became the youngest person ever to be inducted into the American Poetry Society.

After graduating from Howard University, Waters worked as a computer technician before trying her hand at writing songs.  "Gypsy Woman (She's Homeless)" was written for an established recording artist, but the production team she worked for was so taken with the demo of the song that Waters cut that they gave her a recording contract.

Here's the song, which made it to #1 on the Billboard "Hot Dance Music" chart, and peaked at #8 on the "Hot 100."

(La da dee, la da da, la da dee, la da da . . .)

"Gypsy Woman (She's Homeless)" was brilliantly parodied by Kim Wayans on In Living Colour:

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

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