Who sings the song Gypsy Woman

The story of Crystal Waters' "Gypsy Woman (She’s Homeless)"

La da dee la da da, la da dee la da da "Gypsy Woman (She's Homeless)" by Crystal Waters became an absolute radio hit in 1991 and is still a timeless piece of chart-friendly house music. We asked Waters to tell us more about this summer hit, which still makes it a quarter of a century later to give us goose bumps.

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I knew what clubs were from a young age. My family was very musical. My great-aunt Ethel Waters was a famous actress and singer in the 1940s. My father was also a jazz musician all his life and my uncle was the lead saxophonist at MSFB, in case they tell you something. I grew up with all this stuff: rehearsals took place in our house and I accompanied my father on his tours during the summer holidays. So the musician lifestyle was just part of my life.

20 years later, I worked in the DC government's computer department, issuing arrest warrants. I said to myself, “No, that's not for me.” Luckily, I had a colleague whose cousin owned a recording studio. I found out they were looking for backing singers, so I went and was accepted It dawned on me. That was it! I realized, however, that if I was going to do the whole thing properly, I had to write my own songs. So I ran an ad in the local paper and met a keyboardist through it. We started to write a few songs together - just like that. I went to Washington DC for a conference and met the Basement Boys there. I wanted to be the next Sade. I had the ponytail and everything and I was working Also on more jazzy material. But the Basement Boys did house. They sent me a bunch of stuff and said I had to keep my own style. The first two songs I then sang for them I wrote were "Makin 'Happy" and "Gypsy Woman".

When we first got successful, people booed us and said we weren't going to make real music.

House was big in New York and New Jersey at the time, but in Baltimore and here in DC the scene was even more underground—so It wasn't much different now, however. In the end, it's just a big east coast family. I still remember going to clubs when the musical direction slowly switched to house and you could hear the music on the radio's late hours. You asked yourself, “What's that same beat pounding through there?” House was definitely here, but it was also something that you could only really hear in black clubs when we got successful for the first time people booed us and said we weren't going to make real music, it was a real struggle to get the record out.

When me and the Basement Boys wrote the song, it wasn't a house record for us. We just called it dance music - that's what we actually called everything with an 808. The track was there before I had the lyrics. I know some people who prefer to work the other way around, but I like to start writing the lyrics when the song is almost done.

The inspiration for the lyrics came straight from my life. The song is about a woman who used to stand in front of the Mayflower Hotel in Washington DC on Connecticut Avenue. My sister worked at the hotel and I passed this woman about once a week. She looked relatively normal — not like she was homeless. She was always carefully made up, wore black clothes and sang these gospel songs. At the time I thought: "Why don't you get a job instead of begging for money?"

Then one day a newspaper article appeared about her! It said she had recently lost her job in retail. However, the woman is of the opinion that if she were to ask people for money, she must at least look representative. And that totally changed my idea of ​​homelessness. It could be everyone. Before that, I only had the melody ready. When I read the article, the lyrics came naturally. As if the woman was singing them herself.

I never thought that by doing this I would have the influence that the song ultimately did. I thought it would just be a Washington record, a Baltimore record, with a little luck maybe a New York record. I kept my job for two years after it was published. I still remember when I thought to myself at the Top of the Pops gig: "Yes, maybe I can switch to part-time now ..."

It took me a while to realize just how great the song was - and still is. I would never have dreamed of it.

I'm just so grateful that I sat down and wrote this song. That came at a time when I was faced with a choice: "I can either continue with this run-of-the-mill job now or I take the risk and try something else." And I'm incredibly glad I did.


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