10 Questions with ... Martha Wash
October 12, 2015
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/firstladiesofdiscoshow?fref=ts Twitter: https://twitter.com/Martha_Wash Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/purple-rose-records/show-some-love-first-ladies-of-disco-mastered YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ePsF9a0Cf94
1) Please tell us about your new project, the First Ladies Of Disco? How you connected with Evelyn Champagne King, and Linda Clifford? And what inspired you start this project?
We've all known and worked with each other for years but never in a group format. We came together following the success of the book "First Ladies of Disco" written by James Arena which featured interviews with all these great artists. My manager James Washington had the idea to expand on the book and create a group from some of the artists featured in it. We felt that it would be great to put out a single under that banner and let people know that we aren't just about the past. We embrace our past and we love the devotion many of our fans have for the work we've done. But as creative people, we still have a lot to express. It was really very satisfying for the ladies and I to do that in such a timely, contemporary way with "Show Some Love".
2) Can you offer a brief journey of your musical career and tell us what inspired you to pursue a career as a singer?
I've been singing since I was three years old. I sang all through school and I always music and singing around me. Knew always I would be a singer, I just didn't know what genre I would be singing?
Mother wanted me to be Gospel singer so that was my foundation. But I wanted to sing other genres of music. That's when I joined Sylvester and my career took off from there I formed Two Tons O' Fun with Izora Rhodes. That evolved into The Weather Girls and we had a #1 hit with the 1982 release "It's Raining Men."
Since then I have pursued a solo career and I have sung on several studio projects including Black Box, and the #1 hit "Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)" by C+C Music Factory.
3) What was the inspiration for your new single "Show Some Love"?
Zach Adam, who had produced my latest album and who wrote the song, thought it would be a good fit for us and we agreed. We all felt that the way the world was today, everyone needed to show a little more love towards one another. It's just that simple.
As artists, I think it was also important for us to show our range and our ability to create a new and exciting sound ... something a bit different from what we've done in the past. I think it's important to keep moving forward.
On a personal note, I was very excited to release the song on my label Purple Rose Records.
4) How does it feel to see your Dance Mix of this song achieve a Top 10 Hit on the Billboard Dance Charts?
The song adds to the evolving scope of Purple Rose and it's really quite exciting to see the track reach the Top 10 on the Billboard dance chart! On behalf of the other ladies and Purple Rose Records, we're all just thrilled that we were able to achieve that! We were on the chart with both the hottest young dance artists, as well as legends like Madonna and Giorgio Moroder. So it was quite a statement to see all of us on that chart making an impact.
I need to thank all the DJ's that got behind the song. Thanks to their support, we were able to be heard. That was also significant for my label, being right up there with the majors. That gave me a great deal of pride.
I think it was a major accomplishment for all of us and represented a bridging of the past with a very bright future. I think it shows there is room for so-called heritage artists on today's charts and that we have something valuable to offer.
5) Who was it that gave you an early break into the music business and how did you end up becoming a back-up singer for Sylvester in the 1970's.
Actually Sylvester James gave me my first break when I auditioned for him. I had seen him perform two years before meeting him when he was the opening act for Billy Preston. I had never heard anyone sing like that in such a high falsetto voice! I loved the show! And two-years later I auditioned with him and he asked me to find another "large" woman singer to join me. That's how I found Izora Rhodes.
6) Please tell us how are you using social media to connect with your fans?
Through Facebook and Twitter mainly. There are soooo many media sources out there it's hard to keep up. LOL! But having the ability to more directly connect with my fans is a great thing for me. I feel their enthusiasm directly and I am able to view their response to my music in a way that is very personal. Social media is really important for artists, especially those like myself who have a lot of history in the business. These platforms are keeping me in touch with long-time supporters and new fans alike. I think having this connection adds something to everyone's personal experience with the music. I just need four hands to keep up with all of it.
7) Your song "It's Raining Men" became a worldwide hit in the early 80's. How does it feel to be part of one of the biggest Dance songs in history, and please tell how it felt to have your song break through to #1 in so many countries?
Well, first of all, it was very surprising to me because Izora Rhodes and I fought against recording "Raining Me" because we didn't think it was a hit. Songwriter Paul Jabara and Paul Schaefer had co-written the song.
Paul Jabara finally persuaded us to record it. Went into the studio and recorded it in 90 minutes. We said see you later, and we just forgot about it. But then Paul Jabara went around to the clubs asking DJ's to play the song. So it was a hit in the clubs long before mainstream radio picked up on it.
Eventually it became a major hit in all these countries and we were amazed! I guess Paul was right!
8) How does it feel to have your song "Raining Men" used as the backing track for just about every male dancer routine and bachelorette party ever?
It's funny because just about every wedding reception, or bah mitzvah has to play that song once or twice. I'm happy because that song is 30 years old so it has really lasted the test of time. And what I have realized is that it Is a generational song. It catches on with young people, parents and even grandparents. It's a great thing to see! It's become a cult classic.
9) You formed the Weather Girls with Izora Rhodes in the early 80's. What motivated you to step out and pursue a career of your own?
I'll have to backtrack before The Weather Girls when we sang for Sylvester and we were known as Two Tons O' Fun. Our producer Harvey Fuqua, who was very well known for his work with Motown artist, suggested that Izora and I record an album. So we recorded two albums and we had a couple of hits, "Just Us," and "Earth Can Be Just Like Heaven."
Then we met Paul Jabara and recorded "Raining Men." Once that song became a hit we decided to change our name to The Weather Girls because people thought it was a brand new group.
But Two Tons O' Fun fans said "No..." that's not a new group? So we decided to do three things: A) We moved from the East coast to the West coast. B) We changed our name to the Weather Girls, and C) We signed with Columbia Records.
In a way, we started all over again under a new name. We had new fans of the Weather Girls, but Two Tons O' Fun fans felt it was a continuation of that group.
10) Tell us about your experience as the singer on the #1 hit C+C Music Factory "Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)."
David Cole, Musical Director of the Weather Girls and producer/writer Robert Clivilles were doing their own side projects. And I would sometimes do demo vocals for them. With this one particular song, I went in to do as a demo for "Gonna Make You Sweat."
Somewhere along the way they decided to put it out with my vocals, but they used another girl in the video of the song and tried to pass her off as the one doing the vocals. But it didn't work. I was trying to figure out if people would really accept this and they would they buy it? People who knew my voice said, "That's not the woman doing the vocals!?!?"
So in the end I ended up taking legal action against them. And that court case set a precedent that that anyone featured in the song needs to receive credit.
After we put that behind us, I went on to record another album with them, and all was good.
Who are some of your biggest musical influences?
Growing up as a little girl I liked Mahaley Jackson and Clara Ward. As a teenager, I enjoyed listening to Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross, and all the Motown groups. I also liked many of the Rock groups that were out during that time including The Beatles, (Paul was my favorite), Credence Clearwater Revival, and the Doobie Brothers.
What was it like working with Paul Schaeffer and appearing on David Letterman to receive an award for selling 500,000 copies of "It's Raining Men."
It was nuts! When I look back at that show now it seemed like it was a cast of thousands because there was so much going on! To honor Paul as a co-writer on the song, David went all out with the production of that show. There were singers, and dancers, and people hanging from the ceiling! it was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed it. It was also really nice to receive that award was long overdue. It was a great experience.