Every year on The 80s Cruise, one or two artists manage to exceed even the wildest of expectations and deliver breathtaking performances that leave guests clamoring for more. In 2018, that was Katrina, ex Katrina & The Waves.
I remember her performance in a jam-packed lounge atop the Celebrity Summit that spring. Katrina stormed the stage with her tight-as-a-drum backup band blasting out the opening notes of the anthemic “Walking on Sunshine” before launching into a 90-minute set that left everyone with jaws agape.
“Play ‘Walking on Sunshine!'” a crowd member encouraged her halfway through the set.
“Oh honey,” Katrina playfully replied. “Don’t you worry. I won’t leave without playing that one.”
Truth be told, it was all the OTHER tunes she played that wowed us that evening. Some covers. Several new tunes. And a few songs we never knew were hers to begin with.’
Later that week, when I met up with Katrina backstage before she joined us as a special guest for Big 80s Trivia, I confessed to her I was a bit nervous after witnessing her stage charisma. She put her hands on her hips, gave me the emphatic smile of an older sister and said, “Oh, Steve. You have nothing to worry about” before enveloping me in a reassuring hug.
So when Katrina Leskanich — now you know why she usually just goes by “Katrina” — makes her triumphant return in March 2020 aboard Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas, you can imagine why we’re all so excited about walking on sunshine with her again.
While we wait, here are 5 Things you probably didn’t know about Katrina:
- TRULY INTERNATIONAL: As she revealed in 2018 during the “Ladies of Rock” Q&A on the cruise — where she stole the show with her razor-sharp wit — Katrina can claim roots in a number of states and countries. Born in Kansas to a military family, she made her home in several states and eventually landed in the UK in 1976, where she still lives today.
- THE WAVES: Katrina joined an established band in Cambridge, England, called The Waves. Originally she was only brought on board to sing the band’s cover songs. It was only after a series of lineup changes and a full-time move to the front mic for her that the band was renamed Katrina & The Waves.
- THE FIRST HITS: Waves founder and chief songwriter Kimberley Rew wrote “Going Down to Liverpool” for the band’s 1982 album, but it was The Bangles who re-recorded it and made it a hit in 1984. Rew would strike gold again though with “Walking On Sunshine,” a song that still to this day is among the most-requested tunes by TV advertisers looking for music to license for commercials.
- THE LIGHT STILL SHINES: It’s hard to match the success of a signature anthem — and MTV staple — but the band remained together through the ’90s. In 1997, Katrina and her bandmates shocked everyone when their song “Love Shine a Light” won the Eurovision Song Contest — an elite competition that no other U.S. singer has conquered before or since.
- FINAL WORDS: Katrina is also a published author. In 2013, she published a photo-driven guidebook titled “Peggy Lee Loves London: My London Guide” and followed it in 2018 with a dog-friendly travel book named “Metropoodle: My Cornwall Guide.”