(Katrina & The Waves)
Former lead singer from the Grammy nominated band, Katrina and The Waves, was born in Topeka, Kansas, U.S.A, and grew up with the West Coast sound (Fleetwood Mac, Linda Ronstadt, Emmylou Harris, Heart). Katrina’s father was a Colonel in the USAF who was stationed in California, New Mexico, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, Nebraska and Alabama and so Katrina moved seven times while she lived in the U.S.A. and lived in Germany and Holland until, at the age of 16, Katrina arrived in England, where she met fellow American and future Wave, Vince de la Cruz.
As a singer, Katrina was inspired by Motown, Stax and American rock as well as girl groups such as The Shangri-Las and The Shirelles. In 1983 Katrina and Vince formed Katrina and The Waves with Englishmen Alex Cooper and Kimberley Rew.
Katrina and The Waves had their first big 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.
Katrina and The Waves appeared on Johnny Carson twice.
The band’s first album was produced by Scott Litt, who went on to produce REM and Nirvana – it was his idea to add the drum intro to ‘Walking on Sunshine’ which made it irresistible to radio DJs. The first Capitol album, ‘Katrina & The Waves’ released in 1985, was a substantial critical and commercial success and ‘Walking on Sunshine was a worldwide hit earning top ten spots around the globe. (No. 9 US, No.8 UK, No.3 Canada, No.4 Australia). Since then, the song has been broadcasted over 2,500,000 times in the U.S. and was the highest played track on radio in the Summer of 2008.
Films featuring ‘Walking on Sunshine’ include:
• Ask Max (1986) Disney movie
• Secret of My Success (1987) Michael J Fox – walking on the treadmill
• Look Who’s Talking(1989) danced to on-screen by John Travolta
• High Fidelity, (2000) danced to by Jack Black
• American Psycho (2000) with Christian Bale – to tone down a dark event
• Daddy Day Care (2003) Eddie Murphy – opening sequence
• Walking On Sunshine (2014) Leona Lewis and cast sing the song in this 80s musical
Katrina and The Waves’ song covers:
• Bangles ‘Going Down To Liverpool’ (1984)
• Dolly Parton ‘Walking on Sunshine’ on her Treasures album (1996)
• Celine Dion ‘That’s Just The Woman In Me’ (2008)
• Glee cast mash up of ‘Walking on Sunshine’ and Beyonce’s ‘Halo’ (2010)
• ‘Walking on Sunshine’ has recently featured on American Idol, X Factor and The Voice.
Follow Up singles:
• ‘Do You Want Crying’ was a top 40 hit in the US
• ‘Sun Street’ was a UK Top 30 hit in 1986.
• ‘That’s The Way’ reached No. 16 in the US charts in 1989 – from the album ‘Break of Hearts’.
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 and performanced on the Fourth of July at The Mall, Washington DC to an audience of over 250,000 people, and at Madison Square Garden, The Marquee Club in London and CBGBs where Katrina sang with Joey Ramone.
Katrina sang back up on:
• ‘Torn’ (1997) Natalie Imbruglia
• Hanoi Rocks (1984) album
• Holly Valance (2002) album.
Katrina sang duet or guest track on:
• ‘We Gotta Get Out of This Place’ duet with Eric Burdon (1989)
• Rick Wakeman’s ‘Return to the Centre of the Earth’ – guest track (1999)
In 1997 Katrina and the Waves’ ‘Love Shine A Light’ won the Eurovision Song Contest with the largest ever margin, followed by an unprecedented four consecutive appearances on BBC TV’s Top Of The Pops, a No. 3 in the UK Charts and a place in the Guinness Book of Records.
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 an acoustic cover of Kirsty MacColl’s, ‘They Don’t Know’.
In 2006, Katrina put together a new band, 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. The following year, Katrina had a UK club hit in 2008 with a dance version of ‘They Don’t Know’.
In 2010, Katrina celebrated 25th Anniversary of ‘Walking on Sunshine’ with the release of a new CD, ‘THE LIVE ALBUM’ and the Glee Cast had a UK Top 10 hit with a mash up of Beyonce’s ‘Halo’ and Katrina & The Waves ‘Walking on Sunshine’. The EP ‘Spiritualize’ was released in May 2011.
Katrina published her first book – Peggy Lee Loves London: My London Guide (Metropoodle Press 2013) where Katrina explores London in a new city tour guide series and in 2014 toured North America for the first time since the 80s with Retro Futura with other 80s artists including Thompson Twin Tom Bailey, Howard Jones and Midge Ure. In the last few years Katrina has performed with her band at festivals and shows in the UK, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Austria, Germany, The Netherlands, Italy and Scandinavia.
2015 – Katrina has just released ‘Blisland’ – her first solo album for 10 years. It’s the 30th Anniversary of ‘Walking on Sunshine’ and Katrina will be touring South Africa with Rewind from 31st January and has a North American Tour starting March 17th.