By Elise Finch

DEPTFORD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Singer-songwriter Crystal Waters is best known for her dance music hits, but her journey to the top of the charts took a very unusual path.

CBS2’s Elise Finch spoke to the New Jersey native about her career.

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Waters is best known for her hit songs “Gypsy Woman” and “100% Pure Love,” but her musical journey started long before she ever recorded a single note.

Born and raised in Deptford, just outside of Philadelphia, Waters’ family was filled with musicians, starting with her great aunt, the legendary singer and actress Ethel Waters.

“Growing up, we always talked about Ethel Waters and, you know, how famous she was. And my father was a jazz musician,” Crystal Waters said. “There was always music in the house, he had a band, my brother was in a band, my sister sang.”

Waters says writing was her forte.

“Because I was very shy, I took creative writing classes, and it was my outlet,”‘ she said.

This Waters had no plans for a career in music. She went to college, got married, had two children and was working at the parole board in Washington, D.C., but she was not fulfilled, so her mother suggested she talk to a psychic for career guidance.

“So I sat down with her and she said, ‘Well, you’re supposed to do something with your voice,'” Waters said. “I didn’t know what she was talking about because I wasn’t doing public speaking. I was like, she’s crazy.”

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But shortly thereafter, she heard about an audition for a back-up singer. She went, got the job and realized the psychic was right.

From there, she started working with a producing team who loved her writing. They put her words to their music, and the first collaboration was “Gypsy Woman,” a song about a woman living on the street.

“I was wanting to write about, you know, current events, things that were really happening in the world. And they said, don’t change it, so I said OK,” Waters said.

The upbeat music didn’t exactly match the somber sentiment of the lyrics about homelessness, but “Gypsy Woman” struck the perfect chord with listeners.

In 1991, it went to number eight on the pop charts and number one on the dance chart, a chart Waters topped over and over again with one hit after another.

“It just went from sitting at a desk job to touring all through Europe, performing on a TV show. I had never performed anywhere and my first performance was on a TV show,” she said.

Waters has been on a roll ever since. She owns her own record label, she owns a monthly podcast on iTunes and a weekly radio show on Sirius XM and she’s never stopped touring.

“This is what I’m here for and I know it,” Waters said.

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Waters just released her latest single called “I Gave You the World,” and she has more new music coming out in December.

Elise Finch