Kristine Weitz delights in the effect music has on people, especially when a song captures something that's going on in their lives.
"One thing that makes me happy is when someone says, 'That song is my mantra.' Music gives people a lot of hope and inspiration," she says. "If you can put on a great song and that makes you feel good, maybe you don't grab a bag of pills or a razor blade."
The Las Vegas-based singer, songwriter, and record producer, who goes by the stage name Kristine W, will perform Sunday, June 10, during
Weitz identifies with the cause. She has worked with the Trevor Project, a suicide-prevention program aimed at LGBTQ youth. And a portion of the proceeds from her shows benefits Cyndi Lauper's True Colors Fund, which seeks to end LGBTQ youth homelessness.
"I'm all in," Weitz says. "Everything starts with the young people. That's how you bring good energy to the planet and keep it going when you're long gone, you know?"
Weitz is originally from Pasco, Washington. She describes her family as tough-as-nails German immigrant farmers and says she's applied their intense work ethic to her career in music. She moved to Vegas at the age of 18 to attend school and began auditioning as a session singer for stars such as Chaka Khan, Janet Jackson, and Vanessa Williams. Around the same time, she started her own band to make dance remixes of pop songs, which grew to include a full contingent of backup dancers and singers.
"It was like a live dance-music video, is really what we did," she says. "Everything was choreographed; we had costumes. It was a big party. We played two 90-minute shows a night. It was very hard work."
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Eventually, she set the record for the longest music residency at the Las Vegas Hilton, outlasting that of Elvis Presley. The stint also scored Weitz a record deal with a European label that was impressed by her original songs, which led to her first chart-topping dance single, 1994's "Feel What You Want." She's since penned 17 singles that reached number one on the Billboard dance charts, including last year's "Stars." At this point, she's earned a reputation as the queen of clubs.
Weitz's run of success is particularly impressive considering she hasn't had a major record deal since launching her own label in 2003. On top of everything else, she's a multi-instrumentalist who plays guitar and saxophone. She also produces all of her own music and music videos. At 55 years old, she doesn't plan on slowing down anytime soon either.
"I have a new album coming out, and I'm a perfectionist," she says. "So I'm trying to make sure it's fabulous."
Communitea Dance. With Kristine W, DJ Hottpants, Lolo, Adora, Pioneer Winter Collective, and Gender Blender Miami. 6 to 10 p.m. Sunday, June 10, at the Arsht Center, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; 305-949-6722; arshtcenter.org. Admission is free.