Although you may think yourself unfamiliar with the powerhouse voice of dance diva Martha Wash, you are probably wrong. With songs such as "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)", "It's Raining Men" and "Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody )" to her credit, it seems likely that anybody who has stepped onto a dance floor since the 1970s has encountered this musical force of nature. from unknown back-up talent to girl group co-conspirator to solo siren, Martha Wash's voice has contributed more to dance music than other single person's.
Little is publicly known about Martha Wash, prior to her debut as half of Two Tons of Fun. as Two Tons of Fun, Wash, along with friend Izora Armstead, sang back-up for 70s sensation, Sylvester.
Having garnered a large following among gay men, two tons of fun release two albums—Two Tons of Fun and Backatcha—as well as appearing on a Paul Jabara album (which also featured a twenty year-old Whitney Houston).
Baby!!! We wore the GROOVES RIGHT OFF that first Two Tons of Fun album!!! That "Just Us" track was (and is STILL a killer!!)
The first single from their third album, "It's Raining Men" made a name for two tons of fun…literally. rumor has it that DJ's unfamiliar with Two Tons of Fun, took the opening line of "It's Raining Men"—which introduces Izora and Martha as "your weather girls"—too seriously and mistook it for the group's actual title. the name stuck and the song became a huge success, returning to the charts again in 1984.
Success produced two other singles—"I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Out Of My Hair" and "Success"—but none fared as well as their signature song. Sadly Izora Armstead passed away from heart failure in 2004.
The Weather Girls were reborn in 1988, with a self-titled release. This time, Cheryl Pepsii Riley's boys, full force, stepped in for Jabara, producing three of the album's tracks. as the eighties faded into the nineties, Martha stepped behind the scenes to provide back-up vocals for some of the industry's heavy-hitters.
Just then (with the Milli Vanilli scandal still fresh in the minds of the music industry), yet ANOTHER scandal broke! Allowing greed to cloud good judgement, producers of Black Box, C+C Music Factory and Seduction used tracks intended as background harmonization as lead vocals without crediting or compensating The Diva.
It is alleged that the groups committed this heinous act to cover the fact that their own barbie-doll front girls couldn't sing; they feared that by including Wash, a full-figured woman, in promotional materials it would damage the groups' image within the club community.
(Sadly, enough...this BS still prevails in the music industry today. Don't y'all know by now that the Gay Boys LOVE the fierce plus sized Divas who can really BLOW!!)
Lawsuits were filed and, after a long and hard battle, Wash prevailed. Wash's courtroom efforts spurred legislation making vocal credits mandatory on CD's and music videos.
(Vocalists all over the WORLD, including myself, thank you for this one mama! A WHOLE LOT of folks are eating better because of this legislation!)
During an interview with Arsenio Hall, the talk show host asked Wash how she could have possibly proven that hers was the voice we heard on the songs in question. Without so much as batting an eyelash, Wash opened her mouth and let loose, "Everybody Dance Now!"; There were no further questions.
Settlements with Black Box included a recording contract with RCA Records, which led to her debut, self-titled solo album in 1993. As an aside, Black Box has since suffered relative obscurity, releasing only one new single since losing their golden goose. Clivilles and Cole (who died in 1995), regretting their transgression, invited Wash to accompany the factory's front girl, Zelma Davis, on their album Anything Goes. (lol...anyone else remember when Zelma Davis (shortly after the scandal broke) tried to prove she could sing on a televised awards show and was resoundly booed?) Details of any settlement reached between Wash and Seduction have gone undisclosed.
Wash's self-titled solo album, which produced the singles "Give It To You" and "Carry On", refused to perform as well as one might expect from the queen of club music, despite respectable club play.
(Really? Both these songs hit #1 on the charts...isn't that way past "respectable"?)
Wash has toured extensively on the club circuit and remains a favorite among gay men, performing at pride celebrations across the country. in 1996, Todd Terry teamed Martha with Jocelyn Brown for "Keep On Jumpin" and "Something Goin' On" which was released both as a single and on Terry's album. In 1997, Wash re-released the 1993 hit "Carry On" with '97 remixes, as well as the 1983 hit "It's Raining Men" with drag diva RuPaul replacing Izora Armstead.
Wash was scheduled to appear on Broadway (along with Sarah Dash of Labelle) in "Gals Too Big for Broadway." The show was supposed to run in late 2006, but has been temporarily postponed.
(hmmm....I am usually "in the know" about these sort of things...but I'll admit, I didn't hear a peep about this show.)
Martha Wash has endured a twenty year career peppered with hardship and strife, throughout which she has witnessed the death of friends and loved ones. By standing up for herself and for the gay community, and by setting a new standard of beauty for the music industry, Martha Wash has truly earned the name Diva and the title "Queen of Clubland".
Martha's most current project is one that is extremely close to her heart. In 2004, she began her own record company, Purple Rose Records, and immediately saw the first single, "You Lift Me Up" soar high into the top 5 on Billboard Magazine's Club Play Chart.
She is currently recording material for her upcoming project which she says will be "inspirational and uplifting".
To see what Martha Wash is up to next check out her website http://www.martha-wash.com/
Well, I am not surprised that she's doing okay...you simply CANNOT have a talent like hers and NOT do well (okay...well you can...but that's the exception and not the rule!). I bet she has a HUGE following in Europe (where they appreciate our artists MUCH more than we do!)
I am just glad she's well and I thank her for her changing the playing field for Plus Sized Divas everywhere!!!
"I stand alone in the eye of the storm. Pressures all around, tryin' to wear me down. But it's alright, I won't give up the fight. I said, 'Lord, lift me up!' Let me rise above. Nobody's gonna take my pride, I won't stop, I will not be denied - I carry on!". - Martha Wash