Katrina Of The Waves
Former lead singer of Katrina and The Waves, Katrina is one of the few women from the 80s who is still performing and recording.
Born in Kansas, U.S.A., Katrina Leskanich moved to England in 1976. Growing up with the West Coast sound (Fleetwood Mac, Linda Ronstadt, Emmylou Harris, Heart) she, together with fellow American and future Wave, Vince de la Cruz, formed the band Mama’s Cookin’.
As a singer, Katrina was inspired by Motown, Dusty Springfield and girl groups such as The Shangri-Las and The Shirelles. In 1983 Katrina and Vince joined The Waves (a Cambridge based band with ex Soft Boy, Kimberley Rew) and she picked up on some of their musical influences such as Etta James, Velvet Underground and the Stones.
The band became Katrina and The Waves and they had their first break in 1984 when The Bangles covered their song Going Down To Liverpool. This drew attention to the group and lead to an international deal with Capitol Records. And their first single, signed to Capitol was Walking on Sunshine and it was an international smash hit in 1985 and has become a feel good classic which is one of the UK’s most played summertime radio tracks. It’s been played over 2 million times in the U.S. and it returned to the Top Ten in the UK charts in 2010, as a mashup with Beyoncé’s Halo, sung by the cast of the TV series Glee.
Katrina and The Waves were nominated for a Grammy and Walking on Sunshine went on to feature in many Hollywood films, was covered by Dolly Parton who opens her live show with Walking on Sunshine, covered on both American Idol and three times on X Factor, and used in worldwide campaigns including TV commercials for Fisher Price, Opel cars and Halifax building society.
The band toured worldwide with artists such as Wham, The Beach Boys, Don Henley, Pointer Sisters, Chaka Khan, The Kinks, Fleetwood Mac, Coolio and Run DMC. Walking on Sunshine was followed by more chart hits – Do You Want Crying and Que Te Quiero in 1985, Sun Street in 1986 and That’s The Way in 1989, with performances at Madison Square Garden, The Mall, Washington DC, The Marquee Club and CBGBs where Katrina sang with Joey Ramone. Katrina was also the featured vocalist on Natalie Imbruglia’s Torn and albums made by Hanoi Rocks and Holly Vallance. She recorded We Gotta Get Out of This Place as a duet with Eric Burden and sang a guest track on Rick Wakeman’s Return To The Centre of the Earth.
In 1997 the band also had a huge international hit with Love Shine A Light which won the Eurovision Song Contest with the largest ever margin, followed by an unprecedented four consecutive appearances on Top Of The Pops and a Number 3 in the UK Charts. Following the success of Love Shine A Light, Katrina has performed and been a judge at Eurovision selection shows all over Europe.
The following year, Katrina and The Waves split up and Katrina pursued an alternative career on radio and TV. She was a TV presenter on Watchdog on BBC1 with Anne Robinson and was then offered her own show on BBC Radio 2 – where she presented a three-hour show, five days a week for the next year and a half. This was followed by a stint in musical theatre, where Katrina played the lead role (the songwriter Ellie Greenwich) in Leader of the Pack, singing some of the songs that had influenced her as a young singer.
In 2001, Katrina began a solo career, performing live in the UK and in Europe and resumed writing and recording. Her first solo album, Katrina Leskanich was released in October 2005. Katrina wrote and produced many of the songs on the album, which includes collaborations with Phil Thornalley, (Torn) and a stunning acoustic cover of Kirsty MacColl’s, They Don’t Know. In 2006, Katrina put together a new band with Darren Loveday (guitar), Elio Pace (keyboard and newly appointed MD of BBC Radio 2 Weekend Wogan), Jack Pollitt (drums), Andy Coughlan (bass) and Paul Newton (horns), performing their first gig at The Borderline in London.
In 2007 Katrina covered Hitsville UK on The Sandinista! Project – a new compilation and tribute to The Clash Sandinista! Album. And toured Australia on the Countdown Spectacular tour and Norway with Gylne Tider. Katrina’s single They Don’t Know was included on the Gylne Tider 2 album which went platinum. In 2008 Katrina had a UK club hit with a dance version of They Don’t Know.
2010 saw the 25th Anniversary of Walking on Sunshine which became a top 10 hit again with the cast of Glee’s mash up version. Katrina released her first live CD, THE LIVE ALBUM recorded at her shows in London and Germany, which includes a blues version of Walking on Sunshine, songs from her solo album and new material.
During the last year Katrina has been singing as a solo artist and performing with her new band in the U.K. and Europe. In 2011 Katrina’s EP Spiritualize – recordings from 1999 was released and she has been working on a book about London for publication in 2012. Katrina will be featured on a new album, along with Kim Wilde, Toyah and Mica Paris, called Ladies Love the Beatles to be released in 2012.
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