Martha Wash

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Martha Wash
Martha Wash.jpg
Wash performing at Sommarkrysset, Gröna Lund, 2008.
Background information
Born (1953-12-23) December 23, 1953 (age 63)
San Francisco, California, U.S.
Genres R&B, Soul, Pop, House, Disco
Occupation(s) Singer
Instruments Vocals
Years active 1977–present
Labels RCA
Associated acts The Weather Girls, C+C Music Factory, Black Box, Sylvester, Luther Vandross, Tony Moran, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, RuPaul, Showtek, Eva Shaw

Martha Wash is an American R&B, pop, soul, and house singer and songwriter with a career spanning over thirty years. Known for her distinctive and powerful dramatic soprano voice,[1] Wash first achieved fame as one half of the successful act Two Tons O' Fun who sang backing for the often dubbed Queen of Disco[2] Sylvester. After gaining their own record deal, they released three consecutive commercially successful songs which all peaked at number 2 in the dance charts. The duo was renamed The Weather Girls in 1982 when they released the multi platinum single "It's Raining Men" in 1982 which brought the band to mainstream pop attention. After the disbanding in 1985, Wash subsequently made a successful transition into House music as a featured artist on several successful songs. This has led her being branded as The Queen of Clubland[3] with seven Dance songs peaking at number one on the American Billboard Charts and a further four Dance songs peaking at number two, her most recent #1 song being the 2015 Tony Moran radio edit of "Free People".

Wash is also noted for spurring legislation in the 1990s that made vocal credits mandatory on CDs and music videos after being denied proper credit (and royalties) for the million selling #1 song "Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)" after she had been labeled "unmarketable" due to her weight.

In December 2016, Billboard magazine ranked her as the 58th most successful dance artist of all-time.[4]

Early career[edit]

Wash began her music career as a backing singer for Sylvester. With Izora Rhodes, she was half of Two Tons O' Fun, later renamed The Weather Girls.[5] Their contribution provided much of the character of Sylvester's earliest releases: their voices were often mixed so that Sylvester was actually the background singer and Wash's and Rhodes's voices were up front[citation needed]. When they left to pursue a career on their own they achieved success with a number of disco-oriented tracks, culminating in the 1982 release "It's Raining Men", a worldwide hit which peaked at No. 2 on the UK singles chart, No. 1 in Australia, No. 1 on the Euro Hot 100, No. 46 on the Billboard Hot 100, No. 34 on the U.S. R&B chart, and No. 1 on the U.S. Hot Dance Club Play chart. It reached the top ten in numerous other countries. "It's Raining Men" still receives regular play in dance clubs and R&B radio, reflecting its status as a classic song from the late-disco and Hi-NRG era. The Weather Girls had moderate lesser-known hits with "Dear Santa (Bring Me a Man for Christmas)" and "No One Can Love You More Than Me" in 1985.

Solo career[edit]

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 No. 23 in the United States. Wash, however, was not featured in any of the music videos; instead, Katrin Quinol, a French model, lip-synced the lyrics.[6] 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 No. 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 No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1991.[7]

Litigation and solo debut[edit]

In reaction to her lack of credit on a number of successful dance songs, and exclusion from their accompanied music videos, Wash sued Black Box label RCA to receive proper credit and appropriate royalties as the vocalist on all of these songs. In an out-of-court settlement made in December 1990, Wash received financial compensation and a recording contract from RCA, as well as a guarantee to be properly credited for her work in recordings.[7][8] Wash later sued Clivillés and Cole, the producers for C+C Music Factory, along with the C+C record label Sony for "fraud, deceptive packaging and commercial appropriation," with $500,000 in damages; all parties settled by 1994.[9][10] As a result of the settlement, Sony made an unprecedented request to MTV to add a disclaimer that credited Wash for vocals and Zelma Davis (who lip-synched Wash's vocals in the official music video) for "visualization" to the "Gonna Make You Sweat" music video.[9]

Under RCA, Wash released her solo debut album in 1992. The album scored three top ten club/dance hits including "Carry On" and "Give It to You," both of which reached number one.

In the later 1990s[edit]

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.

Recent work[edit]

Wash 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 No. 1 on Billboard's Hot Dance Club Play chart for the week ending December 22, 2007. She would collaborate with Moran again for "Free People," which also reached number on the Dance Club Songs chart in 2015.

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 October 1, 2012, she was on "The Late Show with David Letterman" celebrating the 30th anniversary of the release of "It's Raining Men," where she performed the classic with Paul Shaffer, six back-up singers, three female dancers and three male acrobats descending from the sky.

In January 2013 Martha Wash released a solo album Something Good. Her second single It's My Time was written by Swedish singer and songwriter Helena Johansson. In March 2013 she was the special guest for the New York City Gay Men's Chorus in their spring production "Big Gay Sing 6: Club Night Out."

Martha will be performing at World Pride in Toronto, Canada, in the summer of 2014.[11][unreliable source?]

In 2015, Martha Wash collaborated with disco vocalists Evelyn "Champagne" King and Linda Clifford on the download-only single "Show Some Love", released on Martha Wash’s own label Purple Rose Records. Their collaboration was credited as a group to "First Ladies of Disco".[12] A video was released to promote the single [13] along with an alternate video featuring a remix by John LePage and Brian Cua.[14]

On December 21[clarification needed], a single by House Producers Showtek and Eva Shaw featuring Martha Wash will be released on Spinnin' Records.

Personal life[edit]

Wash has never married and has no children.[15]



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.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Black, Sean (January 16, 2012). "Favorable Forecast". A&U Magazine. 
  2. ^ APPublished: December 18, 1988 (December 18, 1988). "''The New York Times Obituaries'' | "Sylvester, Singer and entertainer, Dies at 42" | December 18, 1988". New York Times. Retrieved 2013-12-05. 
  3. ^ "Disco Dance Diva MARTHA WASH - The Queen Of Clubland Tickets, Sun, Aug 26, 2012". Retrieved 2016-11-03. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ Autobiography, Official Martha Wash website
  6. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2009). Top Pop Singles 1955–2008 (12th ed.). Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. p. 97. ISBN 0-89820-180-2. 
  7. ^ a b "Read Her Lips : R&B Singer Says Hot Dance Hit Is Lip-Synced – Los Angeles Times". 1991. Retrieved April 30, 2012. 
  8. ^ Pareles, Jon (December 6, 1990). "Lawsuits Seek Truth in Music Labeling". New York Times. Retrieved January 2, 2015. 
  9. ^ a b Newman, Jason (September 2, 2014). "Martha Wash: The Most Famous Unknown Singer of the '90s Speaks Out". Rolling Stone. Retrieved January 2, 2015. 
  10. ^ Shelton, Sonya (1996). "C + C Music Factory". Contemporary Musicians. Retrieved January 2, 2015. 
  11. ^ World Pride 2014 – Facebook Page "Pride Toronto"
  12. ^ "The First Ladies of Disco release new video - Gay and Lesbian Perth WA News - OutInPerth | Gay and Lesbian Perth WA News –". Retrieved 2016-11-03. 
  13. ^ "First Ladies of Disco - Show Some Love Official Video Debut". YouTube. 2015-06-30. Retrieved 2016-11-03. 
  14. ^ "First Ladies of Disco - Show Some Love (John LePage + Brian Cua Remix) Music Video". YouTube. 2015-07-12. Retrieved 2016-11-03. 
  15. ^ Helton, David (October 2, 2014). "Martha Wash: We Carry On – Left Magazine". Left Magazine. Retrieved January 10, 2015. 

External links[edit]