For most of my readers, Martha Wash will need no introduction. She began her career singing backup for gay musical icon Sylvester. While signing back up, she met Izora Redman and formed Two Tons Of Fun, who would later be renamed The Weather Girls.
While most remember Martha for her 1982 hit with The Weather Girls titled “It’s Raining Men”, she has been the voice behind several more hits. After the Weather Girls broke up, she provided vocals for all three of Black Box’s U.S. top-forty hits, including the top-ten hits “Everybody Everybody” and “Strike It Up,” as well as “I Don’t Know Anybody Else.” She is also the powerful voice behind C+C Music Factory’s “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now),” which skyrocketed to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1991.
Now, The Queen Of Clubland is back with a new single, “I’ve Got You,” a touching ballad that finds the singer stepping away from the dance floor. I had the chance to chat with Martha about her new single, her gay fans and her musical legacy.
How did you get your start as a musician?
MW: Oh, well, I guess professionally, it would have to have to be singing with Sylvester.
You sang back up for him, right?
You have had several hits over the years. Do you have a favorite?
Well, I think it all depends. If I was singing with Sylvester, it might be “Dance (Disco Heat)” and with Two Tons Of Fun, it would be “Just Us”. God, I don’t know.
There are so many to choose from.
I know. There are a lot.
Lets talk about your new artistic endeavor, “I’ve Got You.” How did the song come about?
Well, a guy by the name of Zach Adams and Ronnie Lee Goffer wrote the song. I had been over to his place listening to some songs and things. There was a time I wasn’t there, but my manager was and he heard the song. He thought it would be a great song for me to sing.
When he sent it to me, I listened to it and said “I don’t know. Maybe not. I’ll pass.” He said ” No. Keep listening. Keep listening to the song. I think this is the song for you.” He literally kept telling me to listen to the song. I did, eventually, fall in love with it. It really does speak to everyone.
Everyone can relate to it.
Exactly. That is what he was pointing out. This song is one everyone can relate to on some level.
Have you had a chance to perform it live?
No, but I will perform live on June 25th. I am doing a show out here in Long Island for an outdoor Summer concert series. So, I am going to do it then for a crowd of about 3 or 4 thousand people.
That’s a big crowd.
Can people get tour dates and information on your website?
I got an email from a fan who loves the new single and its artwork. Will it be released physically?
At this particular time, no. We are just doing the download on iTunes and Amazon.
That seems to be the trend.
Well, you know, it’s a little quicker. There are fans, and I do understand, that still want a physical copy. I do too. I still go to stores and buy CDs myself. I have at least one thousand CDs and still have cassettes. My gosh! [laughs] Seriously. I like to touch it, see it, look at the inside liner notes and all that stuff, but at this particular time, no. Hopefully, in the future. Usually, when I do that it is when I am on tour and sell to the Pride Festivals and things like that.
Will there be any remixes of “I’ve Got You”?
No, not at this moment. That’s always the next question: “We love the song and video. When is the remix out?” It’s going to be a long time before we do a remix because this is the song in its simplicity. You want the song to be in this form. Everybody can do a remix.
It is such a powerful song. It’s beautiful.
That’s why we wanted to keep it.
It is perfect the way it is now.
That brings me to my next question. I know a lot of people see you as just a dance singer, but there is so much more to your music. Has that always been difficult to get across?
Yeah, I would say. People know the songs that I have sung. They just don’t know the name Martha Wash. Unless you are a die-hard fan and you’ve grown with me all the way through Sylvester, you would not know who I was. You can say to a person, “Do you remember that song “Everybody Dance Now” or “It’s Raining Men”?” and they say “Oh, yeah. I love that song!” If you say Martha Wash before, they will say “Who?”
That is a shame.
Well, it has been like that. It came to a point where I was used to it. It didn’t bother me so much. Look, everybody is getting older, and you should know who is singing that song.
In essence, with this song, we want to reach people in the Midwest. You know, out in the corn fields. [laughs] They know who Lady Gaga is and Cee Lo Green and all these other people. The music that some of them have danced to over the years, they don’t know who the person is that sang it.
Well, with the new song, I think it could help you reach a different audience, not just a club crowd.
Exactly. This song is broad enough where everybody can hear it.
Like you said, anyone can connect to the song.
How do you feel about your gay fanbase? Can you explain your appeal to that audience?
Well, the fanbase, I would have to say, has been all the way back from the beginning with Sylvester. Over time, it just grew and grew. We grew into Two Ton’s Of Fun and started going out there recording and doing shows and stuff. It has grown from there. So, just over the decades, they have been my biggest fanbase. They have always been a great group.
We are usually very loyal.
Yeah. I can’t say what an individual person likes, as far as their musical tastes. I do have to say that the gay community has always been there. They stick with you. If they like you, they stick with you.
You must be proud of your musically legacy. I mean, “It’s Raining Men” and your work with C& C Music Factory and Black Box. What does it feel like to have such a great legacy?
It is something that I thought about recently. I had to stop and think to myself that I had a major hit in just about every decade.
Your music is being introduced to new people everyday because your songs are staples on radio. You still hear them.
Especially “Gonna Make You Sweat”. You might hear it in a movie, over the radio or whatever. That music is constantly being played, which is a good thing. The music is still out there. It is just about who I am.
What do you consider the most memorable moment of your career?
That is a good question. I would say when the Weather Girls got nominated for a Grammy.
Well, that is a big deal.
I had to kind of stop and think about it. I would say up until that time being nominated for a Grammy for “It’s Raining Men”. We didn’t win, but at least we were nominated.
Do you have any thoughts about the new ladies on the music scene right now? Like Lady Gaga?
[sighs] Lady Gaga is really, really out there. I heard someone say one time that she is more of a music “artist” as opposed to just a singer.
More to look at?
Yeah, I mean, she has a great voice. I love some of her songs but they would equate her as a music “artist”, you know? I mean that is fine. She has got the following. I like her. I can’t necessarily say I am one of her little monsters.
You won’t be putting your paws up anytime soon?
[laughs] I don’t think so. Look, I’ll put it like this; there should be room for everybody, you know?
Well, I don’t know if I necessarily agree with that. Only because, there are enough artists out there and people who want to be in this business. I think everybody is clawing their way up and trying to be that number one. I think that is the harder part.
Is there anything you want to tell your fans. The ones who have followed your career for so long?
Look, I am just glad that I’m still here and they’re still here. [laughs] That is a beautiful thing right there. I really do thank them for their loyalty and coming along with me on this journey. I really hope they get a chance to listen to the new song, watch the video, download the song and pass it along to everybody else. I’m trying to get a whole lot of hits.
“I’ve Got You” is absolutely beautiful.
Well, we are proud of it and we hope the right person can listen to it and say “I really love this song. This would work for what we are trying to do with our organization or our campaign.” Things like that. Again, it is a song that everybody can steal something from. Most of the people who have heard it, say “Love the song. It just bring me to tears.”
Like you said before, everyone can relate.
Right. It’s kind of funny in a way, but on the other hand, it is nice to know that it touches people in that way.