Once again Martha’s vocals have been used in a scandal. Watch the video of Boy Bandits: The Rise & Fall of Puberty’s Child
Her voice is among the most recognizable in American pop culture, being heard everywhere from basketball games to TV commercials to gatherings as private as family reunions or as public as outdoor festivals across the country. Yet, when that anonymous set of powerful pipes command “Everybody dance now!” few know that it is the voice of Martha Wash. Hopefully that is about to change with the release of the inspirational “Something Good,” her first solo album in 20 years.
In the tradition of most R&B artists who sing with her power and passion, Wash, a San Francisco native, began singing in church, and first captivated crowds on a grand scale when she teamed up with Izora Rhodes, a vocal powerhouse in her own right. Billed as Two Tons of Fun, they served as high-profile backup singers for the campy and colorful Sylvester, the disco divo who delivered such infectious dance tunes as “Dance (Disco Heat),” “Do You Wanna Funk” and “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real).”
However, it was as the Weather Girls that Wash and Rhodes made a global impact, with their catchy and clever dance tune “It’s Raining Men,” released in 1982, becoming a worldwide hit. Though Sylvester passed away in 1988 and Rhodes in 2004, Wash’s fiery vocals remained in demand for chart-topping dance hits by C+C Music Factory and Black Box — but only her vocals.
When she recorded “Gonna Make You Sweat” for C+C Music Factory as well as “Everybody Everybody” and “Strike It Up” for Black Box, decision-makers, who deemed Wash “unmarketable” because of her size, opted to have a wiry French model by the name of Katrin Quniol lip-sync in the videos, rather than have Wash, a bountiful beauty, deliver her own powerful vocals on camera. (As a former opera singer, I immediately knew that all of that sound was not coming out of that frail model).
During our recent interview Wash explained, “David Cole (C+C Music Factory producer) played for the Weather Girls. He was the musical conductor for four years or so, and sometimes I would go in the studio and record scratch vocals for other artists, which are like demo vocals for whatever artist may record the song. So that’s would I would do for him, and as far as ‘Gonna Make You Sweat’ was concerned, it was the same principal – I thought — until I saw the video for it on TV, and I’m saying, ‘What’s going on?’ So that’s how that occurred.
“With Black Box, they were some musicians out of Italy, and I did some vocals for them as well. So what they wound up doing was making a compilation CD and calling it Black Box. I guess that’s the name of the compilation, but the guys themselves, they were these studio producers called Groove Groove Melody, and basically, the same kind of thing happened. What made it so crazy was both of those situations happened within a year’s time, so it kind of magnified the whole situation. Also, it was during the time of the Milli Vanilli scandal, so it was totally crazy!”
“As far as C+C was concerned, we worked out the differences. There was a settlement made, and we were able to move on from that, because I even recorded another CD with them and was out on tour with them when David Cole passed.” Wash’s passion and persistence throughout the ordeal resulted in changes that would ensure that every artist in the recording industry – even those faceless voices behind the scenes – received their just due.
“During that whole situation, it was very uncomfortable for me, because I had never been in that kind of situation before,” Wash recalled. “There was press and all this other kind of stuff. But after all of it was over, there were other people – musicians and things that came up to me and said, ‘Good for you! I’m glad for you! It should have never happened.’ Now, there is legislation that says that you have to be credited for the work that you do on any type of music. I am glad about that.”
In 1993, Wash finally stepped into the spotlight with her self-titled debut solo album. “I think basically, it was time,” she explained. “‘Gonna Make You Sweat,’ the song had really taken off. I was getting calls for interviews and things like that, and I think at that time, the Weather Girls had kind of ran its course. We had recorded two or three albums and all we were doing was touring. We weren’t in the studio. The label dropped us, so it’s like, ‘Okay. I’m going to go out here and do this.’ With the agreement with Black Box, or Groove Groove Melody, I should say, RCA offered me a solo recording contract, so I decided to go for it.”
Now, with the release of “Something Good.,” Wash is finally claiming and taking control of her music and her sound.
“I had started my own label and I had put out a single, but I didn’t move forward with any other music, so we decided to go on and get started on getting this music together,” she said. “I met with Zach Adam and he wrote the first single, which is ‘I Got You,’ which got really positive reviews, and just continued on finding more music that would work for adult contemporary listeners. Not so much the dance, because everybody knew that I could do the dance stuff. I needed to go in another direction. I was getting older.”
As the vivacious and supremely talented Martha Wash embarks on the next phase of an intriguing career, she says of her latest project, “It’s uplifting! I want to uplift people and inspire people, and find songs that become anthems for their lives. ‘It’s My Time.’ That’s how I feel now about this project. This is my time to show people that I can do other types of music, and not be just stuck in one genre, because I never, as an artist, wanted to be pigeon-holed. I’ve always said that through my I career. Let me sing whatever I want sing! Hopefully the fans will like it and get behind it.”
Contact entertainment reporter Kimberly C. Roberts at (215) 893-5753 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally posted at http://www.phillytrib.com
You might not know her name but you probably know her mighty voice. Martha Wash put the oomph in a number of popular songs in the ’80s and ’90s, including “It’s Raining Men” with her group the Weather Girls, and on dance hits like “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)” by C & C Music Factory and “Strike It Up” by Black Box, amassing eight No. 1 singles on various Billboard charts.
After an almost 20-year layoff from recording, Wash has returned with “Something Good,” showing off contemporary pop tunes and dramatic ballads, including a thumping take on Aerosmith’s “Dream On.” We chatted with Wash by phone recently from New York about the five reasons she decided to strike it up again.
1. “First of all it was time,” she says with a laugh. “That’s the main reason.”
2. “I needed to find the right songs,” she says of the album’s eight tunes, some penned by Billboard songwriting contest winner Zach Adam.
3. “I wanted to go in a different direction musically.”
4. That different direction meant proving she could sing in varied styles, from peppy pop to uplifting anthems. “Everybody knows me for the dance music and I can do that standing on my head.”
5. She wanted to put her stamp on “Dream On,” but not at first. “I’ve always liked the song but I didn’t trip on it at the time,” she says of the Aero classic. But her manager convinced her to take the power ballad on and she’s glad she did, since she feels it fits the flow of the album. “From what I understand, no one has ever covered that song before.” Now she’s waiting to hear what the band thinks. “I don’t think they know who I am.” (But we bet they know the voice.)
Article by Sarah Rodman
Originally Posted at BostonGlobe.com
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Martha Wash, who started her professional career as one of Two Tons of Fun, Sylvester’s back-up girls, has been singing professionally for around 40 years now. Can you believe? She is also the diva who brought us to the disco and dance floors as a Weather Girl (“It’s Raining Men”), and as vocalist on club and radio hits from Black Box (“Strike It Up,” “Everybody Everybody”) and C & C Music Factory (“Gonna Make You Sweat”).
On her second solo album, the recentIt’s My Time, we find Martha awash in rock’n’roll, ballads, middle-of-the road easy listening and what might best be described as disco lite. Will her fans — her club following — embrace this effort? Or will they feel betrayed and abandoned?
Though, sadly, I hate to see Ms Wash relinquish her disco diva status, this album is clearly her attempt to advance from cult fame to mainstream artist. And she deserves to be a household name! Though Miss Martha’s vox on It’s My Time is clear and strong, she mainly refrains from heavy belting. It’s a new, more mellow, marshmallow Martha.
The album, which has largely garnered very positive reviews, opens with the rock-oriented “Alright,” then moves on to the ballad, “Destiny.” There are a mere eight tracks on this album, which might put off some potential buyers, but every song is a winner. Quality, not quantity, people!
The ballad “Proud” is particularly heartbreaking and beautiful; the lyrics reminding me a bit of Bette Mider’s “To Deserve You.” Martha’s cover of Aerosmith’s “Dream On” is a surprise, and wonderfully covered by old girl. The single, “It’s My Time,” a power ballad, has already been successfully remixed as a club number from Something Good. And the title tune, “Something Good,” with a light dance tempo, also seems ripe for the remixing.
I whole-heartedly recommend It’s My Time. For Martha Wash, it certainly is her time to shine.
By the way, I kissed this Weather Girl and I liked it:
Originally Posted at: djbuddybeaverhausen.blogspot.com
Sometimes you can’t get ahead, its hard to get out of bed, when clouds are knocking at your door, you’re standing on a ledge, getting closer to the edge, nothing seems to matter anymore…” All too often, society today seems to be repeating these words over and over again on social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook, and in such vast numbers, it surprises me that there’s even anyone left on this planet anymore, but enter, the one and only, Martha Wash!
*Insert clapping hands as you read this*
You may remember the cult classic track; “It’s Raining men” by the Weather Girls, yeah? Well that’s your gal! And she’s back with punch in her latest album “Something Good”.
Throughout the album, there’s an underlying tone of “keep going” and “never give up” with soft, smooth vocals that don’t just fall into one ear and out the other, oh no, these are vocals that tease you, make you feel curious, almost mother-like. The sound trickles down the side of your head, walks slowly into your ears and dances like nobody is watching, all the while, keeping you in a state of mesmerization and nurture as you day dream about your life and how much better it could get with the help of Martha playing through your headphones at every opportunity.
Don’t get me wrong, being a young musical entrepreneurial genius isn’t always easy, I have to listen to the charts every day and to be frank, chart music just isn’t what it used to be, with the likes of Flo Rida and Ne-yo esque club dance music constantly hitting the number one spot, with their electronic drum patterns and their over the top use of compression and reverb like it’s some kind of competition to see who can get the loudest sexual cheer in a room full of underage kids sneaking into clubs trying to get themselves a little bit of hot nooky.
Martha Wash takes a different approach.
Using her blend of out-standing vocals with such strength and clarity and power, she washes over you (see what I did there?) with a blend of what sounds like real instruments and backing singers, really giving you that old school feeling of love and passion and soul igniting fire, giving you strength to carry on with that difficult life journey you’re walking through right now.
The first track “Alright” hits you with a somber mix of drum kicks and guitars, with lyrics such as “you gotta keep breathing, you gotta keep believing, you gotta keep dreaming, you’re gonna be alright”, highlighting various home truths about the world we live in, whilst keeping the sound uplifting and hopeful, veering away from the depressing side of things and constantly reminding you that you’re worth something. I don’t think, for the past generation of music, there’s been a track as honest and painfully “cruel to be kind” as this.
“Destiny”, track two of the album, starts to get upbeat, with a flicking guitar, wide sensual piano and that all important motherly tone. Track three “I’m not coming down” is where things start to get interesting. If I could release an album called “shit you can drive to whilst in a state of melancholy”, this track would be on there multiple times. In fact it would just be this song from track one to track fifteen on all four CD’s. The song doesn’t veer away from it’s classic rock/disco style drumkicks and guitar, with a subtle drop of piano here and there, and a very positive sounding “I never fell until i fell down on my knees, I never knew I could feel such peace, i didn’t know I could soar above the clouds, and now I do, I’m not coming down”, it reminds you of a time when things were better, happier, more positive. A time when you would walk down the street with a spring in your step and not a “skank” like some all these little boys who think swagger is above class.
The thing I love about this album and all of it’s content, is that nothing is over done. Sometimes you wish the tracks were just a little bit longer so you cold enjoy the sound and the message for just that little bit longer, but it ends precisely when it means to, and more often than not, you end up putting tracks on repeat until you’ve had your feed. At first I thought it was going to be an annoying thing to have to do, but I’ve realised that, the more you listen to the songs, the stronger and more clear the lyrics become, making the experience all that much more pleasurable.
Tracks four “It’s my time” and track five “I’ve got you” is where things really start to hit a powerballad/ love-ballad combination. Your head will be nodding along merrily and your lips will be miming the words whilst you’re locked away inside your mind thinking to yourself “Yeah, things can get better…”. Track six “Proud” intrudes on the kickdrums and guitar and goes right back to piano and vocals. This is the kind of song you close the Bafta’s with, or hit number one in the charts with a charity single, Live Aid type thing. The feeling of this song is so eerily haunting, I still cannot figure out just how it still sounds so uplifting and positive! Again, the vocal clarity and articulation makes you wonder just how music has moved from an artist like Martha Wash to the likes of “P!nk” and “Wrong Direction”, who are good vocalists, but it’s like comparing karaoke performers to real concert performers. It makes me lose faith in humanity, but then I listen to the album again and I think, “It could happen…”.
Interestingly, track seven is a cover of Aero Smith’s “Dream On”, and I hate cover songs. The only cover songs I’ve ever liked is “Duke – Message In A Bottle” and “Polly Scattergood – New York”. Now as fortune favors the brave, this cover isn’t actually half bad. If you had never heard of the song before, you might actually be fooled into thinking that the original was by Martha and that Aero Smith covered it. We see the return of the disco/rock drums, subtle hints of piano lurking in the shadows and a beautiful dance of violins and rhythm guitar in a melting pot of delicious musical stew.
This brings us to our final track (eight, for all you three year olds reading this), “Something Good”. This is where Martha, I feel, really comes into the new era. It’s pop, but still ballad style. It’s up beat, it’s catchy, it’s positive, and it really is something I could listen to in the charts of today. It even has a hint of movie soundtrack (Love, Actually anyone?). It’s one of those songs that you hear once and humm to yourself for hours afterwards, the kind of song I imagine girls sing into hairbrushes when they’re having naked pillow fights at their sleep-overs.
The tricky thing about this album, is that describing each track, and the energy that cradles it, is no easy feat. You really do just need to listen. Not just listen; embrace it, appreciate it, share it, love it, and most importantly, take away the message Martha is sharing with you. In this day and age, an opportunity like this seldom comes along often. It has been an absolute pleasure listening to each and every track, and as I have it playing in the background right now as I write this, I’m scared the the last full stop will end up in me taking off and flying into the sunset.
Who say’s you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?
Martha Wash has released her stunning new LP, her first in two decades, titled, “Something Good.” The record is a full-length, long playing album that transitions away from her tradition of top-notch, foot-tapping, voice-soaring dance numbers. “Something Good” is a collection of new music from Wash in a different vein than her old favorites, the jukebox and VH1 hits that have not left the club scene since her rise to stardom and fame in the early eighties. Surely, there is not a soul within earshot of a radio who has not heard her infamous dancefloor battle cry, “Everybody dance now!” Nevertheless, Martha Wash may yet be most recognized for her part in the Weather Girls’ 1982 hit, “It’s Raining Men.” “Something Good,” while containing music that is sure to please longtime fans, is more an alternative pop-rock album than a traditional house record.
“Something Good” is a departure from the danceclub manner of excellence fans have come to expect from Wash, and commands its own powerful character among her releases. For one thing, “Something Good” is remarkably, almost poetically uplifting. “It’s My Time,” one of the album’s main singles, is a righteous celebration of the self, an oath to the universe that the indomitable human spirit is not only alive and kicking, but also on the rise toward ultimate achievement and glory. “I’m almost there,” proclaims the first verse. “It’s indescribable. It’s my time to shine.”
Martha Wash has called the eight songs on “Something Good” “empowering,” which is to dramatically understate the point. Wash, herself, who has encountered more than any artist’s fair share of adversity, is a patron saint of perseverence (Wash famously filed suit against Black Box for failing to give her due credit for her lead vocals on their album; the suit was in tandem with another case concerning the Milli Vanilli lip-syncing scandal of 1990). This new record showcases her staggering impetuousness and optimism – not to mention her flawless, Aretha-Franklinesque intonations – unlike any she has recorded before.
“Whatever song [my fans] listen to,” says Wash, “I hope they get something positive out of it. I want them to think about themselves, and about helping others.”
Whether “Something Good” changes the world in some small way or not remains to be seen, but the startling beauty and magnificence that is Martha Wash at this latter point in her career is plain to be heard, right now.
“Something Good” is available everywhere online beginning January 10th, 2013.
Staff Press Release Writer
The LP “Something Good” is distributed globally by MondoTunes (www.MondoTunes.com) and is available at iTunes for convenient purchase and download
MondoTunes (www.mondotunes.com) supplies the largest music distribution in the world and provides upstream services for many major labels in search of breakout artists. While most independent distributors reach only 45-50 retailers despite charging needless monthly and yearly fees, MondoTunes reaches over 750 retailers and mobile partners in over 100 world regions without any monthly or yearly fees.
Originally posted at: http://www.mi2n.com/press.php3?press_nb=160663
Today we honor and celebrate an amazing singer whose perseverance has made the music industry a more just place while entertaining millions and advocating for social justice. Martha Wash was born in 1953 in San Francisco. By her early 20s she was already known as a powerhouse vocalist. She teamed with Izora Rhodes Armstead as regular vocalists with gay disco icon Sylvester. Celebrating their big voices and ample frames, the duo billed themselves as Two Tons O’ Fun.
Two Tons pursued their own career starting in 1980, recording two albums that were very successful on the dance charts. Their first brush with pop stardom came when songwriters Paul Jabara and Paul Shaffer offered them a song that had been rejected by Donna Summer, Barbra Streisand, and many others. They renamed themselves the Weather Girls and had a huge international smash with It’s Raining Men. The track also solidified Wash’s credentials as a diva of the gay scene, an honor she has embraced throughout her career. Izora moved to Europe in the late 90s and Wash began planning a solo career.
In the meantime, Wash did session work with a number of producers. In 1989 and 1990, her voice was everywhere as she sang on hits credited to Seduction and Black Box. She had been led to believe that she was creating guide vocals or demos, but the producers were so impressed with her voice that she ended up on the final products. Sadly, she was not given vocal credit, however, and Black Box used French model Katrin Quinol as the face of the songs. Infuriated with the lack of credit, low scale compensation, and clear discrimination against her size in the video realm, Wash sued Sony music. She received an undisclosed settlement that included credit and royalties. Occurring in the wake of the Milli Vanilli scandal, her actions also changed music industry law, requiring proper credit and royalties for anyone used as a lead vocalist.
Besides her amazing talent and business determination, Martha Wash has used her fame and fortune for social justice. She is active in charitable work for autism and is the official spokesperson for Quality Services for the Autism Community. She is also a staunch supporter of gay rights and an outspoken advocate for marriage equality.
Look, from my perspective, there have been more gay couples who’ve stayed together longer than straight couples. My feeling is, if you are a citizen of the United States, you should have all rights and liberties of everybody else. If you’re paying taxes like everybody else, why can’t you have the full commitment from the United States government, from marriage on down?
Recognizing her debt to her early gay fans, she is flattered by the many drag performers that cover her songs. She also enjoys telling stories of the many people who have told her they came out while one of her songs was playing.Wash was part of the opening ceremonies at the first Out Games in 2006 and performs many benefits.
Having come to fame during the early days of the AIDS epidemic, she is also a strong advocate for the HIV+ community. She has no patience for those who stigmatize the LGBT community for the disease or for those who marginalize those impacted by HIV. On World AIDS Day in 2012 she was awarded a lifetime achievement award from the AIDS Emergency Fund for her ceaseless advocacy and fundraising.
Martha Wash isn’t resting on her laurels, however. She started her own label, Purple Rose, and released her first full album in 20 years on January 10, 2013. Something Good proves she’s lost none of her vocal fire and is aptly named for her presence in the world.
Originally posted at The Solipsistic Me