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POP FACES

HADDAWAY : Singer Won't Stay Long in Dance-Music Genre

March 13, 1994|DENNIS HUNT

To Haddaway, conventional is a dirty word.

"I avoid being conventional--I hate the thought of it," says the pop-dance singer, whose single "What Is Love" was a long-running Top 40 hit at the beginning of the year. The follow-up, "Life (Everybody Needs Somebody to Love)," is bubbling under the Top 40.

Haddaway, 29, may be the only dance-music star ever who's both a medical school dropout and a former prosperous marketing executive. He's also an international nomad. He was born Nestor Alexander Haddaway in Trinidad, the son of a nurse and a marine biologist. He was raised in Chicago and the Washington, D.C., area, has worked in Germany and is currently a resident of Monaco.

"I can't say I really call any place home," Haddaway says. "I can't say that will change. Maybe it's because I'm always looking for some kind of excitement."

Lack of excitement drove him from med school in 1984. In the music business, he says, there's hardly a dull moment.

"It's a continuous challenge--never boring. There's an excitement about singing and this business that I can't find anywhere else. I always loved to sing, from the time I was very young--all kinds of music."

During college and his tenure as a marketing executive, Haddaway moonlighted as a singer. In Germany, he joined a band, Elegato, that turned out to be fairly successful, leading to some studio work. His big break was hooking up with producers Dee Dee Halligan and Junior Turello, who created "What Is Love," which Haddaway parlayed into European stardom and a U.S. contract with Arista Records.

"I never thought I'd make a living at this because I didn't think I could sing well enough," Haddaway explains.

But he isn't a bad singer, and his first album, "Haddaway," which has a '70s disco sound, is one of the best dance collections of the past year.

Like just about everybody else in the dance-music genre, though, he's looking for a way out: "Being typed as a dance-music artist is a death sentence."

But isn't he already typed?

"Not at all," Haddaway insists. "I'm making sure that won't happen. Wait until my next album. You'll see a different side of me."

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