Wash performing at Sommarkrysset, Gröna Lund, 2008.
December 23, 1953 |
San Francisco, California, U.S.
|Genres||Disco · R&B · house · soul · pop|
|Singer-songwriter, record producer|
|Labels||Purple Rose, RCA|
|The Weather Girls, C+C Music Factory, Black Box, Sylvester, Luther Vandross, Tony Moran, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, RuPaul, Showtek, Eva Shaw|
Martha Elaine Wash (born December 23, 1953) is an American singer-songwriter. Known for her distinctive and powerful voice, Wash first achieved fame as one half of the successful act Two Tons O' Fun who sang backing for American disco singer 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 after they released the multi-platinum single "It's Raining Men", which brought the band to mainstream pop attention.
After the disbanding in 1985, Wash made a successful transition into house music as a featured artist on several successful songs. Her success on Billboard's Dance chart has earned her the honorific title The Queen of Clubland, with a total of twelve number-one songs on the chart to date.
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 platinum-selling number one 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.
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. 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. 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.
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-synched 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 No. 5 in the United Kingdom, "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.
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. 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. 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.
In 1992, Wash signed a recording contract with RCA Records. In October 1992, Wash released her single "Carry On", which peaked number one on Billboard's Dance chart.  In February 1993, Wash released her self-titled album Martha Wash, which peaked at number forty-two on Billboard's R&B Albums' chart. In January 1993, the second single "Give It to You" was released, which became her sixth number-one song on the Dance chart. The third single "Runaround" from the album was released and peaked at number ten on the Dance chart.
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, along with American singer Jocelyn Brown and producer Todd Terry, released a single "Keep on Jumpin'" in 1996. The song peaked at number one on the Dance chart. They followed up with the release of "Something Goin' On" in 1997, which also peaked number one on the Dance chart. In January 1998, Wash released her greatest hits albums The Collection. The lead single "It's Raining Men...The Sequel", which featured RuPaul, peaked at number twenty-two on the Dance chart. The follow-up single "Catch the Light" became Wash's tenth number-one song on the Dance chart. The album's final single "Come" peaked at number four on the Dance chart. Wash was also featured on Todd Terry's single "Ready for a New Day", which peaked at number twenty on the Dance chart.
In 2000, Wash released two singles "Listen to the People" and re-recorded version of "It's Raining Men". In 2005, she released a gospel single "You Lift Me Up", which was the first song produced on her own recording label, Purple Rose Records. Wash performed at the opening ceremony of the OutGames in Montreal in July 2006. She also performed at numerous Human Rights Campaign events in the U.S. 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. In 2007, Gay Pimpin' with Jonny McGovern, gay-themed podcast, dedicated an episode to Wash and she obliged them with an extended telephone interview. She would collaborate with Moran again for "Free People," which also reached number on the Dance Club Songs chart in 2015.
In March 2008, she performed at the annual Big Gay Day in Brisbane, Australia. She also performed at Chicago Pride Parade on June 2008. In August 2009, she performed at the opening ceremony of the NAGAAA Gay Softball World Series. In April 2011, the song and accompanying music video for the song "I've Got You" were released. On October 1, 2012, she appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman, celebrating the 30th anniversary of the release of "It's Raining Men".
In January 2013, Wash released her second studio album Something Good. The album's second single "It's My Time" was written by Swedish singer-songwriter Helena Johansson. In March 2013, she was a special guest for the New York City Gay Men's Chorus during their spring production "Big Gay Sing 6: Club Night Out". In 2014, the album's final single "I'm Not Coming Down" peaked at number two on the Dance chart. In the summer of 2014, Wash performed at the World Pride in Toronto, Canada.
In 2015, Wash collaborated with disco vocalists Evelyn "Champagne" King and Linda Clifford on the single "Show Some Love", which reached the number 6 spot on the Billboard Dance Charts and was released on Wash's own recording label Purple Rose Records. Their collaboration was credited as a group to "First Ladies of Disco". A video was released to promote the single  along with an alternate video featuring a remix by John LePage and Brian Cua. In February 2014, Wash featured on the 6th track on the album Born Naked by RuPaul. The track is called 'Can I Get An Amen?' and debuted after the season 5 episode of RuPaul's Drag Race of the same name.
In December 2015, Wash released a single "N2U", produced by Showtek and Eva Shaw on Spinnin' Records.
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