||This article relies largely or entirely upon a single source. (November 2011)
Wash performing in Sommarkrysset, Gröna Lund.
December 28, 1953 |
San Francisco, California, United States
||R&B, Soul, pop, house, disco
||RCA Records (1993-present)
||The Weather Girls, C+C Music Factory, Black Box, Sylvester, Luther Vandross, Tony Moran, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder
Martha Wash (born December 28, 1953) is an American R&B, pop, soul, house singer/songwriter known for her distinctive and powerful soprano voice.
Wash began her music career as a backing singer for Sylvester. With fellow backing singer Izora Rhodes, she was half of Two Tons O' Fun, who would later be renamed The Weather Girls. As such, they were responsible for providing much of the firepower behind several of Sylvester's earliest releases — often their voices were mixed so that Sylvester was actually the background singer and Wash's and Rhodes' voices were upfront. When they left to pursue a career on their own, they achieved success with a handful of disco-oriented tracks, culminating in the 1982 release "It's Raining Men", a worldwide hit that peaked at #2 on the UK singles chart, #1 in Australia, #1 on the Euro Hot 100, #46 on the Billboard Hot 100, #34 on the U.S. R&B chart, and #1 on the U.S. Hot Dance Club Play chart. It reached the top ten in numerous other countries. "It's Raining Men" receives regular play in dance clubs and R&B radio to this day: it stands as one of the classic songs of the late-disco and Hi-NRG era. The Weather Girls scored moderate, lesser-known hits with "Dear Santa (Bring Me a Man for Christmas)" and "No One Can Love You More Than Me" in 1985.
Later, when the Weather Girls disbanded, Wash continued to lend her vocals to various dance and house music tracks. Several of them became massive pop, R&B and dance hits. She sang lead vocals on all three of Black Box's U.S. top-forty hits, including the top-ten smashes "Everybody Everybody" and "Strike It Up," as well as "I Don't Know Anybody Else," which charted at #23 in the United States. Wash, however, was not featured in any of the music videos as it was customary for Katrin Quinol, a French model, to be used to lip-sync the lyrics. All three of these hit singles continued to receive regular club-play and mainstream radio airplay as of late April 2010. In addition, Wash sang lead vocals on the lesser-known Black Box tracks, "Fantasy," which charted at #5 in Great Britain, "Open Your Eyes," and "Hold On." All six of these songs appear on the Black Box album Dreamland. Also, she performed uncredited lead vocals on Seduction's "You're My One and Only (True Love)," and lead vocals on C+C Music Factory's "Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)," which hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1991.
Her post-Milli Vanilli litigation
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But with the Milli Vanilli scandal still fresh in the minds of the music industry, Wash was also perturbed by the fact that her image had been labeled "unmarketable" because of her size. She was, in fact, so perturbed that she successfully sued to receive proper credit, and appropriate royalties, as the vocalist on all of these songs. Wash's courtroom efforts spurred legislation making vocal credits mandatory on Compact Discs and music videos. It also awarded her a recording contract with RCA Records, which led to her eponymous debut solo album in 1993. The album scored three top ten club/dance hits including "Carry On", "Give It to You" and "Runaround". The first two reached number one and featured a song written by Kenneth H. Williams, Sami McKinny and Denise Rich, "God Bless The Road", a stirring uplifting ballad noted in Billboard Magazine.
In the later 1990s
In 1994, Wash covered Jean Knight's "Mr. Big Stuff" for the soundtrack of the film Disney's D2: The Mighty Ducks. Two years later, in 1996, she recorded a cover version of Elton John's "I'm Still Standing" for the soundtrack of the film The First Wives Club.
Wash, a notable star within the gay community, continues to record new music into the 21st century such as her first new single in more than 5 years, "You Lift Me Up" - a fusion of gospel and house, which is the first song produced on her own label, Purple Rose Records - 2005. Wash performed in the opening ceremony of the World's first OutGames in Montreal in July 2006. She performed at numerous Human Rights Campaign events in the U.S. The gay-themed podcast Gay Pimpin' with Jonny McGovern dedicated an episode to Wash and she obliged them with an extended telephone interview.
In 2006 Wash appeared as a guest on GSN's I've Got a Secret, and performed "It's Raining Men" for the all-gay panel.
DJ Tony Moran's compilation CD The Event featured a single featuring Martha entitled "Keep Your Body Working". It reached #1 on Billboard's Hot Dance Club Play chart for the week ending December 22, 2007.
She was a performer at the annual Big Gay Day in Brisbane, Australia on March 9, 2008. She also performed at the Chicago Gay Pride Street Fest on June 28, 2008, at the Nightingale as part of the Birmingham, England, bank holiday festival on August 23, 2008, at Washington, DC Capital Pride on June 14, 2009, and at the Opening Ceremony of the NAGAAA Gay Softball World Series in Milwaukee, WI on August 31, 2009. In April 2011, the song and accompanying music video for the song "I've Got You" were released. On Oct. 1, 2012, she was on "The Late Show with David Letterman" celebrating the 30th anniversary of the release of "It's Raining Men," which she performed the classic with Paul Schaffer, six back-up singers, three female dancers and three male acrobats descending from the sky.
Here is a list of the artist's Number One singles (group, solo, credited and uncredited) as determined by Billboard magazine as well as significant entries. Peak chart position for non-number ones shown in (parentheses). Billboard Hot 100 Positions and Australian ARIA Chart positions are depicted in designated parenthesis as well.
- as one of Two Tons O' Fun:
- as one of The Weather Girls:
- 1990 "I Don't Know Anybody Else" (#23, Billboard Hot 100; #3 AUS, #4, UK) (with Black Box)
- 1990 "Everybody Everybody" (#8, Billboard Hot 100; #35 AUS) (with Black Box)
- 1990 "Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)" (#1, Billboard Hot 100; #3 AUS) (with C+C Music Factory)
- 1991 "I (Who Have Nothing)" duet with Luther Vandross #1 R & B Charts
- 1991 "Fantasy" (#3 AUS, #5, UK) (with Black Box)
- 1991 "Strike It Up" (#8, Billboard Hot 100; #20 AUS) (with Black Box)
- 1992 "Carry On" (#1, Billboard Hot Dance Club Play)
- 1993 "Give It to You" (#90, Billboard Hot 100; #1, Billboard Hot Dance Club Play)
- 1993 "Runaround" (#10, Billboard Hot Dance Club Play)
- 1994 "Do You Wanna Get Funky?" (#40, Billboard Hot 100; #11 AUS) (with C+C Music Factory)
- 1994 "Leave a Light On"
- 1995 "It's Raining Men...the Sequel (#22)
- 1996 "Keep on Jumpin'" (with Todd Terry and Jocelyn Brown) (#1, Billboard Hot Dance Club Play)
- 1997 "Somethin' Goin' On" (with Todd Terry and Jocelyn Brown)
- 1998 "Catch the Light" (#1, Billboard Hot Dance Club Play)
- 1998 "Come" (#4, Billboard Hot Dance Club Play)
- 1998 "It's Raining Men...the Sequel" (#54 AUS) (duet with RuPaul)
- 2000 "Listen to the People" (#14)
- 2004 "You Lift Me Up" (#4)
- 2007 "Keep Your Body Working" (with Tony Moran) (#1, Billboard Hot Dance Club Play)
- 2011 "I've Got You"