NYC new wave/no wave singer Cristina dead at 61, reportedly from COVID-19
Cristina Monet Zilkha -- who was born Christina Monet-Palaci, and recorded under the mononym Cristina -- died on Wednesday (Apr. 1). Her death was confirmed by Michel Esteban, co-founder of her label ZE Records, who wrote on Facebook, "Wake up this morning with this devastated news, dearest Cristina past away. So sad.." She was 61.
The daughter of a French psychoanalyst and an American novelist, playwright and illustrator, Cristina dabbled in theater (both as a writer and a critic) before turning to pop music at the behest of her eventual husband -- Michael Zilkha, co-founder with Michel of ZE, an influential New York post-punk label. Zilkha persuaded her to record "Disco Clone," a single ultimately produced by Velvet Underground guitarist John Cale and released on ZE in 1978. Campy, self-aware and infectious (with a young Kevin Kline as Cristina's spoken-word co-star on a later re-recording), the song developed an underground following.
Cristina would release two full-length albums on ZE, 1980's self-titled effort and 1984's Sleep It Off -- produced by a pair of left-field disco fixtures in August Darnell (of Kid Creole & The Coconuts) and Don Was (of Was (Not Was)), respectively. While the former followed in the winking disco model of "Clone," the latter adopted a sharper, punchier new wave sound to match Cristina's increasingly dry, acerbic songwriting: "My life is in a turmoil, My thighs are black and blue/ My sheets are stained, so is my brain/ What's a girl to do?" lamented the chorus to "What's a Girl to Do," arguably her signature track. [Billboard]
As Billboard and others have reported, new wave/no wave singer and ZE Records artist Cristina (full name Cristina Monet Zilkha, née Monet-Palaci) has passed away at age 61, and it is believed that the cause was COVID-19 complications.
Rest in peace, Cristina. Listen to some of her music below...