‘You Make Me Feel, Mighty Real!’ Oh, how that lyric line sung by Sylvester, the Queen of Disco Sylvester over a gospel-tinged disco beat made those who heard and danced to it truly feel mighty. That one line can sum up the impact Sylvester had on a generation of club kids, an era of music.
January 13, 1979 – 44 Years Ago Today: Sylvester debuted at No. 85 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart with his single, ‘You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)’. It was written by James Wirrick and Sylvester, and released as the second single from Sylvester’s fourth album, Step II. The song was already a largely popular dance club hit in late 1978, as the B-side of his previous single ‘Dance (Disco Heat)’, before it was officially being released in December.
‘You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)’ was originally recorded as a mid-tempo piano-driven gospel song; however, after producer Patrick Cowley saw a rehearsal of the song at San Francisco’s City Club, he then offered to remix the song. The result was one of the pioneering disco records using some electronic instrumentation and effects, following closely on Donna Summers iconic ‘I Feel Love’ which heavily used electronic instrumentation ahead of its time. These 1970s songs using electronic instrumentation would have an influence on 1980s and 1990s dance music, which in turn, would have an influence on dance music in the next century.
In Sylvester’s home country, the single was billed on the Disco Top 100 Chart with ‘Dance (Disco Heat)’ and both singles were simultaneously No. 1. ‘Dance (Disco Heat)’ was his first Hot 100 entry the previous August and peaked at No. 19 on November 25, 1978. The song also reached No. 20 on the Billboard Hot Soul Singles Chart. The single was his second Top 40 hit, peaking at No. 36 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart in February 1979.
A 12″ single was released in 1978, with ‘Dance (Disco Heat)’ as the A-side and ‘You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)’ as the B-side, and these two extended dance mixes proved to be very popular in dance clubs at the time. The two songs held down the top spot on the Billboard Dance Disco Chart for six weeks in August and September 1978. These two songs helped to establish Sylvester’s career as a noted disco and dance music performer, both in the US and abroad. And we danced, and danced… He made us feel, mighty real.
Music critic Robert Christgau has said the song is “one of those surges of sustained, stylized energy that is disco’s great gift to pop music”. In 2003, Q Magazine included ‘You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)’ in their list of the ‘1001 Best Songs Ever’. In 2019, the song was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Recording Registery for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
‘You Make Me Feel Mighty Real’ and Dance (Disco Heat) can both found on his iconic albums ‘Step II’ and ‘Living Proof’ (live album).
January 13, 1979 – 40 years ago today, Sylvester debuted at no.85 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart with his single ‘You Make Me Feel, Mighty Real’. This Syvester James and James ‘Tip’ Wirrick-penned single was the second of three Top 40’s for Sylvester on the Hot 100 Chart and his no.1 on the Billboard Disco Top 100 where he scored 18 entries.
In the early 70’s, Sylvester joined the renegade drag act the Cockettes and taught them gospel, but otherwise clashed with their outrageous brand of sketch comedy. Yet his appearances with the group – and especially his soaring solos – quickly turned Sylvester into an underground sensation. In 1972, when David Bowie failed to sell out his first San Francisco show, he told reporters, “They don’t need me; they have Sylvester.”
A seed had been planted, and Sylvester began to perform solo as the doyenne Ruby Blue, a jazz and soul persona influenced by his grandmother that he’d first assumed with the Cockettes. He played at the Rickshaw Lounge in Chinatown, singing standards by early icons like Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Lena Horne. Ruby came about, in Sylvester’s words, to inhabit “the mystery of it. The freedom of it. The glamour of it.” Here, the genesis of Sylvester’s music was born, rich in soul and spiritual traditions, with a high tenor capable of trying on different feminine vocal styles at a whim.
Sylvester’s gender identity was purposefully inscrutable. His costumes oscillated between feminine extremes, sporting tinsel tutus with bouffanted wigs, but offstage he could be just as muted. Sylvester was equally comfortable trying on “butch” signifiers like leather pants or a close-cropped haircut; both sides lived within him at all times. He insisted that he never thought about his sexual identity onstage, citing a piece of advice given to him by another one of his idols, Josephine Baker: “The illusion you create onstage is all.” Sylvester defied categorization at every opportunity, and shrugged off questions intended to pin him down with the same cool he maintained on record: “Look dear, being gay means absolutely nothing except to straight people,” he sniped to a nosy reporter in 1978.
By the time Sylvester began to cut his own records, having signed to the San Francisco label Blue Thumb, he was still finding a niche. His rock-funk music, performing as ‘Sylvester and the Hot Band’, was far from the synthy, formulaic disco beginning to dominate both the charts and the gay clubs he frequented. Sylvester was a casual disco fan at best, and it wasn’t until he signed with jazz label Fantasy, by way of veteran producer Harvey Fuqua, that he fully leaned into the vision. Sylvester released a soulful self-titled album in the summer of 1977 and followed it up the next year with the glittering ‘Step II’, which remains his most precise and dazzling album.
The album’s opening one-two punch, ‘You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)’ and ‘Dance (Disco Heat)’, both flaunt Sylvester’s musical genius, but the former is his his crown jewel. Working with a band led by guitarist James ‘Tip’ Wirrick, the singer intended it as a traditional ballad and wrote lyrics off the cuff in the studio. The arrangement morphed into something else entirely once Patrick Cowley, a friend and producer obsessed with Giorgio Moroder and Euro-dance eccentrics, got a hold of the song and infused it with a synthesized disco pulse. (“I’ll always love and be grateful to you,” reads Sylvester’s dedication to Cowley in ‘Step II’s liner notes, “for being right on time.”) “You Make Me Feel” pumps with the same space-age DNA as Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love,” released just the year before, only with Summer’s wispy voice replaced by Sylvester’s high-wire depiction of the era in San Francisco: “To dance and sweat and cruise and go home and carry on and how a person feels,” as he described it. His falsetto dances along with tense breath control until he screams that orgasmic chorus, a full-throated Pentecostal spiritual transformed into an instant disco crowdpleaser.
Sylvester believed there were “enough love songs in the world like there were enough children,” yet ‘Step II’ throbs with passion. Sylvester covers Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s swaying ‘I Took My Strength From You’, elongating his vocals into gossamer threads and bending the song into a pure devotional. ‘Was It Something That I Said’, a rolling R&B song co-written with Fuqua, opens with a back-and-forth between Sylvester’s beloved backup singers, Martha Wash and Izora Armstead (aka Two Tons o’ Fun, who would later form the Weather Girls). “Child, have you heard the latest?” they titter. “Uh-oh, what’s goin’ on now? About Sylvester breakin’ up?” He recalls receiving a letter with a phone number, only to call and find it disconnected. The fallout leaves him overcome, a miniature tragedy writ large with funky keys, horn licks, and a spoken-word bridge.
‘Step II’ and ‘You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)’ led Sylvester to international success. On the Billboard Disco Top 100 Chart, the single was billed with ‘Dance (Dance Heat)’ was his first Hot 100 entry the previous August and peaked at no.19 on November25, 1978. The album went gold (celebrated by the label with wine bottles pressed with Step II labels, no less), and Sylvester made a slew of TV appearances where he put on brassy performances for national audiences. He opened for acts such as the Commodores, the O’Jays, and Chaka Khan, and extensively toured Europe with a large band, whipping fans abroad into a Beatles-style mania. Practically overnight, all of Sylvester’s dreams of stardom had become a reality, and he hadn’t forsaken any part of himself to get there.
Sylvester received the keys to San Francisco on March 11, 1979, and ‘You Make Me Feel’ was inducted into the Library of Congress in 2018, formally confirming Sylvester’s impact on American culture at large. Go to any gay club or Pride event worth its salt and you’ll hear ‘You Make Me Feel’ blaring over the speakers at some point, spinning open and sending every person to the dancefloor to commune. Remnants of the ballad version appear on a reprise halfway through ‘Step II’, but look no further than the ascendant, gospel rendition on 1979’s live album ‘Living Proof’, recorded live at San Francisco’s War Memorial Opera House, for hard proof of the song’s divine power, no matter the conduit: Sylvester breaks from the propulsive beat for a slowed-down interlude bolstered by a choir, his voice climbing into an angelic upper register that blows the wind out of you.
Sylvester died at 41 of AIDS in 1988, just a year after his longtime husband, architect Rick Cranmar, died of the same. Cowley, too, died of AIDS in 1982, the same year the two recorded the sleek Hi-NRG blast ‘Do You Wanna Funk?’; Cowley became one of the first publicized deaths from the virus. Sylvester also put a face to the crisis when he led the People With AIDS group in a wheelchair at the 1988 San Francisco Pride Parade. “He’s allowing us to celebrate his life before his death, and I don’t know a single star who has the integrity to do that,” the novelist Armistead Maupin wrote afterward.
“I don’t want much – just a fabulous time,” he said the year Step II came out. “I have quite normal feelings but I like to take on a little bit more excitement than most. I am what I am, I do what I do, I know what I am, I live for what I feel.” Through his extraordinary style and boundless imagination, Sylvester generously paved the way for all of us to do the same.
‘Step II’, a timeless classic, with great dance music, and some of the most beautiful ballads.
In the mourning city, on March 11, 1979, then San Francisco mayor Diane Feinstein proclaimed the day as ‘Sylvester Day’, recognizing the pioneering art of the supreme diva. That very same day, Sylvester celebrated the release of his third Fantasy Records album ‘Stars’ (co-produced by Patrick Cowley) with a grand-scale, triumphant 3-hour concert at San Francisco’s War Memorial Opera House. The gig was recorded for the live album ‘Living Proof’.
November 27, 1978, San Francisco was mourning of the killing of Supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone by Dan White, a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. That evening, a spontaneous gathering began to form on Castro Street, moving toward City Hall in a candlelight vigil. Their numbers were estimated between 35,000 and 40,000, spanning the width of Market Street, extending the mile and a half (2.4 km) from Castro Street.
The next day, the bodies of George Moscone and Harvey Milk were brought to the City Hall rotunda where mourners paid their respects. Over six thousand mourners attended a service for Mayor Moscone at St. Mary’s Cathedral. Two memorials were held for Milk; a small one at Temple Emanu-El and a more boisterous one at the War Memorial Opera House.
While the city was still mourning, preparations were underway for a unique Sylvester concert at the War Memorial Opera House, several parties withdrew. It almost didn’t happen. The Opera House Board was homophobic & tried to stop the show. The lawyers for the promoter prevailed & the show went on.
On March 11, 1979, Sylvester, and his girls Martha Wash, Izora Rhodes, Jeanie Tracy and Sharon Hymes, together with a large band, and the complete 26-piece San Francisco Symphony Orchestra blew of the roof of the 3,000-seat sold out War Memorial Opera House. San Francisco where Sylvester wore the moniker of the Queen of the Castro alongside his Disco title, he blends all the colors in his musical palette into a work of remarkable imagination and spirit.
A genuine original, he was the vèry first ‘modern’ artist to perform in a classic Opera House, he was one of that special breed of performers who come fully to life onstage, who have the unfailing instincts to ignite an audience with sophistication, sass, and style. In a business where clones abound, Sylvester was the real thing.
Sylvester treated attendees to ballads, covers and medleys, in addition to Sylvester’s own hits. His falsetto sound was a mix of male and female voice. Most intriguing about the venue was the sheer range of material being performed. Sylvester covered everything from the Beatles ‘Blackbird’ to Billie Holiday’s ‘Lover Man’ to Barry Manilow’s ‘Could It Be Magic’.
Sylvester’s reinterpretations of Thelma Houston’s Sharing Something Perfect Between Ourselves and Patti LaBelle’s ‘You Are My Friend’ where the standout of the show as it showcased the genius interplay Sylvester, Rhodes, Wash and Tracy utilized in their live performances. Everybody sang along to the ballad version of You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real) at the end of the concert…. These last three songs where much more then just ‘beautiful songs’ in a time of the city’s mourning. There tittle’s say more then enough….
However, Sylvester’s celebratory music was the voice of gay pride. In bars, clubs and concert halls, Martha Wash, Izora Rhodes backed him. The night after his historical sold-out Sylvester Concert at the War Memeorial Opera House on March 11, Mayor Diana Feinstein declared it Sylvester Day and presented him the key to the city. The people where still mourning, but the Queen of Castro was their new hero, if he wasn’t already!
Two months after the concert, on May 21, 1979, thousands of members of San Francisco’s predominantly gay Castro District community took to the streets to protest the lenient sentence received by Supervisor Dan White for the murders of local politician and gay rights activist Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone. Their anger – combined with the actions of police who arrived to quell the scene – soon boiled over into rioting. The resulting violence affected San Francisco’s LGBT community for decades to come.
Sylvester’s voice helped foster that fight… ‘Sharing Something Perfect…’ ‘Everybody is a Star!’
Sylvester ‘Living Proof’
The Opera House gig was recorded, and subsequently released as a live double album, called Living Proof. The album contained a typically eclectic mix of blues, disco, funk and beautiful ballads. Sylvester feld that Living Proof, is “the best representation of what people had been writing about me since the day I started performing. All the energy is there”.
Living Proof present Sylvester at a key point of transition in his career where he is moving more toward his soul and cabaret roots, and paying homage to the disco that took him over the top. It is also a few years before he would go on to define NRG music.
Sylvester (lead vocals)
Martha Wash and Izora Rhodes (Two Tons of Fun) (background vocals)
Jeanie Tracy (background vocals)
Sharon Hymes (background vocals)
Eric Robinson (background vocals)
Overture: Grateful, You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real), Dance (Disco Heat)
Medley: Could It Be Magic (Eric Robinson), A Song For You
Loverman, (Oh Where Can You Be)
Sharing Something Perfect Between Ourselves
You Are My Friend
Dance (Disco Heat)
You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real): dance version/slow gospel version
On the double album are also two studio recordings: ‘Can’t Stop Dancing’ and ‘In My Fantasy’. ‘Can’t Stop Dancing’, a single released from this album, was a huge hit in the disco clubs.
Today, twentythree years ago, Paul Jabara died. A name that doesn’t say anything maybe to our youngsters, but hearing songs as ‘It’s Raining Men’ ‘Last Dance’ and ‘No More Tear’s (Enough is Enough)’ would ring a bell…
He Paul Frederick Jabara, was born in Brooklyn, New York on Januari 31, 1948. He was an American actor, singer, and songwriter of Lebanese ancestry, born in Brooklyn, New York City. – Jabara’s cousin and close friend Jad Azkoul is also a Lebanese-American musician specialising in classical guitar.
Paul Jabara was the only son of Olga and Sam Jabara and was the youngest of three children and had two older sisters, Delores and Claudette. His love of music originated almost from birth, and he entertained his family and their friends as soon as he learned to talk. This multi-talented phenomenon began his career a teenager modeling for magazines and appearing in television commercials. As a teenager, he also auditioned for The Sound of Music and was offered a part in the road company, but his parents wouldn’t allow him to go. His first big break came when he was offered a feature role in the original cast of Hair.
Impressionist Paul Jabara cuddles Donald Sutherland as Karen Black and William Atherton are amused in a scene from the film ‘The Day Of The Locust’, 1974. (Photo by Paramount/Getty Images)
In the 1970’s, Jabara was in the Original cast of the stage musicals ‘Hair’ and ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’. He took over the role of Frank-N-Furter in the Los Angeles Production of ‘The Rocky Horror Show’ when Tim Curry left the production to film the movie version in England. He appeard in John Schlesinger’s 1969 film ‘Midnight Cowboy’, as one of the attendees at the counterculture party, and in Schlesinger’s 1975 film ‘The Day of The Locust, where he sang the song ‘Hot Voo-Doo’.
But it wasn’t only acting he did. Jabara released his first album, ‘Shut Out’ in 1977. Jabara’s solo albums on the legendary disco label Casablance Records include three duets with Donna Summer; ‘Shut Out’ (1977), ‘Something’s Missing (In My Life)’ (1978) and ‘Never Lose Your Sense Of Humor’ (1979).
Paul Jabara and Donna Summer ‘Something’s Missing (In My Life)’ This power ballad has also been recorded by Karen Carpenter, Freda Payne and Australian pop royalty Marcia Hines… It’s recorded in several versions, one of them with Summer is featured on Jabara’s CD ‘Greatest Hits and Misses’.
In the 1978 film ‘Thank God It’s Friday’ he played the role of Carl, the lovelorn and nearsighted disco goer, and he also contributed as a singer on two tracks on the original soundtrack album, with the songs ‘Disco Queen’ and ‘Trapped In A Stairway’.
Thank God It’s Friday album cover.
Donna Summer in ‘Thank God It’s Friday’.
Paul Jabara wrote Donna Summer’s ‘Last Dance’ from ‘Thank God It’s Friday'(1978) and Barbra Streisand’s song ‘The Main Event/Fight’ from the album ‘The Main Event’ (1979).
‘Last Dance’, featured in the film ‘Thank God Its Friday’, earned Jabara a Grammy Award and the 1978 Academy Award for Best Song. Clearly, his music defined an era and continues to keep us all dancing.
In 1979, Jabara won both Grammy Award for Best R&B Song and the Academy Award for Best Original Song for the song performed by Donna Summer, ‘Last Dance’.
Paul Jabara ‘The Third’ album contains the duet with Donna Summer ‘Never Lose Your Sense Of Humor’, a great song with the typical Jabara/Summer sound!
Paul Jabara and Donna Summer ‘Never Lose Your Sense of Humor’.
Donna Summer and Barbra Streisand ‘No More Tears Enough Is Enough’ another monster hit for Paul Jabara (Photo’s by Francesco Scavullo).
1979 was an amazing year for Jabara and Summer. Disco’s big finish in 1979, who could ask for a bigger finish of the greatest era of dance music? The ‘Disco Queen’ and Barbara Streisand together working Paul Jabara’s magic together. This cut was a power house, anyone who experienced the energy that this cut created when it was released will never question it’s reign. Casablanca Records has definitely made a place in music history with this on. The song was a hùge Platinum-certified, #1 Billboard hit.
At right, songwriter Paul Jabara, at the premiere of Bette Midler’s movie, ‘The Rose’, 1979
1981 Jabara starred in yet another John Schlesinger film, the comedy ‘Honky Tonky Freeway’ as truck driver/songwriter T. J. Tupus, hauling lions and a rhino.
Composing myriad hit songs, his credits include many platinum and gold records. He is also known for: ‘Jinxed’ (1981), written for Bette Midler and her movie of the same name, but it was never commercially released. ‘Work That Body’ (1982) a modest hit for Diana Ross. The hit single is included on her Platinum album ‘Why Do Fools Fall In Love’.
He co-wrote The Weather Girls (Sylvester’s former background girls, the Two Tons of Fun: Martha Wash and Izora Rhodes) monster hit ‘It’s Raining Men’ together with Paul Shaffer, which was also recorded by Geri Halliwell and a worldwide hit for the second time in 2001.
The former Two Tons of Fun: The Weather Girls (Matha Wash and Izora Rhodes) with their monster hit ‘It’s Raining Men’ (1984).
Jabara’s album ‘Paul Jabara & Friends’, released in 1983, features guest vocals by a then 20-year-old Whitney Houston on Eternal Love. It also includes the song ‘It’s Raining Men’. An other song Jabara wrote to perform include ‘ Two Lovers’ for Julio Iglesias (1984).
Jabara received many awards for his work throughout his lifetime. Jabara had been honored for creativity and excellence winning numerous awards including The Oscar; Grammy; Golden Globe; People’s Choice Award; Your Choice for the Oscar and many others giving him global recognition.
It has been reported that Jabara co-founded the Red Ribbon Project in 1991, and was credited with conceiving and distributing the first AIDS Red Ribbons. This highly recognized symbol spawned the use of different colored ribbons to quickly raise awareness to other causes and is widely used today.
Paul Jabara died of complications from Aids at the age of 44 in Los Angeles on September 29, 1992. He is buried at Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York. As a tribute at his memorial service, his friends and collaborators got together and performed a song he wrote entitled, We’re Gonna Win. Later recorded by long-time friend Donna Summer.
Martha Wash, one of the original members of The Weather Girls, re-recorded several years later, together with drag supermodel RuPaul the It’s Raining Men. Again, it became a huge hit! Like it also was for ex-Spice Girl, Geri Halliwell.
‘A Hot Jabara Summer Night’ 2012
In 2005, a workshop of a musical entitled Last Dance played New York City. It was a musical assembled from Jabara’s well known disco songs and told the story of a modern day teenager who goes back in time to spend one night at Studio 54.
Paul Jabara’s music lives on. Not only ‘the big names’ in the industry still performing his songs. Every season of Idols or .. Got Talent, we can here some of his songs performed by the ‘new’ artist. We hear his music still in films, and in clubs, and sometimes in the most fantastic long versions or remixes. Yes, it’s still a Hot Jabara Summer Night then. And it will always be……
For over 40 years, Martha Wash has kept people on their feet as the Queen of dance music, dominating the genre with a gospel-infused voice that fueled a string of Top 10 hits.
Martha Wash began her music career as a backing singer for Sylvester. With fellow backing singer Izora Rhodes, she was half of Two Tons of Fun who would later be renamed The Weather Girls. As such, they were responsible for providing much of the firepower behind several of Sylvester’s earliest releases. Especially the voices of Martha and Sylvester fit perfect, and they where an amazing team.
Sylvester, ‘Stars’ with the hit’s ‘Can’t Stop Dancing’, gay anthem and tittle song ‘Stars’, and the Lieber and Stoller classic ‘I Who Have Nothing’ (Martha Wash recorded the song later together with Luther Vandross as a beautifull ballad).
After Sylvester’s hit album’s Step II, with the mega hits ‘You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real), ‘Dance (Disco Heat)’, and his album ‘Stars’ Sylvester wanted something different, something special.
With the San Francisco Symphony, his own band with Patrick Cowley, and Martha Wash, Izora Rhodes, Jeanie Tracy, Sharon Hymes and Eric Robinson as background singers, Sylvester gave a sold out, black tie concert at the San Francisco War Memorial Opera House, as the first ‘non-classic’ act ever held in an Opera House.
Sylvester, ‘Living Proof’, 1979 Live recorded at the San Francisco War Memorial Opera House, as first ‘non-classic’ act ever. Sylvester absolutely set the stage and paved the way for all the rest … in many many ways.
After singing some of his classics, they perfomed Thelma Houston’s beautiful ballad ‘Sharing Something Perfect Between Ourselves’ a song where Sylvester and Martha’s voices fits perfect together: Sharing something perfect! The song was followed by Patti Labelle’s classic, ‘You Are My Friend’! While singing this song, it was a good reason for Sylvester to introduce his girls: “Everything I èver needed, was here right all the time”. “You see..these girls: Martha and Izora. I met them three years ago”. “We had our first rehearsel in a Volkwagen on our way to Marin county. And these girls have stuck with me all through èverthing yah, and they are here right now, and I want you to know that! You see… I don’t know if you all have noticed or not, but these women could sing yahh! ….Honey, your ear has to bé in your foot! Tonight here these women could sing! They don’t need these dresses! They don’t need that juwellery! They don’t need that hair! These women could sing yah!! Now folks, seeing is believing… right? I told you everything I could tell yeah… now it’s them to entertain……”
And they did!! Three voices that fit sóo perfect! They blew of the roof. Especially Martha Wash showed the world what she could! Not only on record she sounds clear. But live even better!
Sylvester, on stage with the Two Tons of Fun. Martha Wash (left) and Izora Rhodes (right).
…and fun they had!
Friends forever: Martha Wash and Izora Rhodes as the Two Tons of Fun. Their first album, with the hits ‘Earth Can Be Like Heaven’ and ‘Get The Feeling’.
Typical Patrick Cowley sound ‘Get The Feeling’.
When they left to pursue a career on their own, they achieved success with a handful of disco-oriented tracks, like ‘Earth Can Be Like Heaven’ and ‘Get The Feeling’, both with Partick Cowley, culminating in the 1982 release ‘It’s Rainging Men’, Written and produced by Paul Jabara and who wrote a lot of great dance anthems like Donna Summer’s ‘Last Dance’ and Donna Summer and Barbra Streisand’s ‘No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)’.
‘It’s Raining Men’ a worldwide hit that peaked at No. 2 on the UK Single 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’ receives regular play in dance clubs and R&B radio to this day: it stands as one of the classic songs of the late-disco and Hi-NRG era. The Weather Girls scored moderate, lesser-known hits with ‘Dear Santa (Bring Me a Man for Christmas)’ and ‘No One Can Love You More Than Me’ in 1985.
The Weather Girls ‘Succes’, 1982
The former Two Tons of Fun: The Weather Girls (Matha Wash and Izora Rhodes) performing life at The Tube their monster hit ‘It’s Raining Men’ And fun they had! (1984).
The 80’s, and 1990’s brought a lot of succes. But also a lot of sadness. In 1982, Patrick Cowley tragically died, during those very early days in the Age of AIDS, not long after he founded Megatone Records. But not only Patrick Cowley died, many friends and people in the industry, passed away in that time. Like singer Frank Loverde (Die Hard Lover) and Paul Jabara (1992). As the panic and reality around the pandemic gained steam-cutting down man after man (and woman!) in its prime during the eighties Martha Wash worked tirelessly on many AIDS benefits. She helps raise much needed funds and awareness about the disease.
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 ‘I Don’t Know Anybody Else’ as well as ‘Strike It Up’. But when the music videos for these songs were released, Martha was nowhere to be found, as imposters lip-synched her greatest hits however, she was not featured in any of the music videos as it was customary for Katrin Quinol, a French model, to be used to lip-sync the lyrics. All three of these hit singles (still!) 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 the 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.
C & C Music Factory and Martha Wash performing Do You Wanna Get Funky?
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, Martha 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 Clivilles 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 Davis for ‘visualization’ to the ‘Gonna Make You Sweat’ music video, and a performance in the the video clip ‘Do You Wanna Get Funky’.
Under RCA, Wash released her solo debut album in 1992, with a cover photo só beautiful. The album scored three top ten club/dance hits including ‘Carry On’ and ‘Give It to You’, both of which reached number one.
Martha Wash first solo album.
Martha Wash ‘Carry On’.
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’. Also in 1996 she recorded with a duet with longtime friend Jocelyn Brown the single ‘Keep On Jumping’. And that was what they did in clubs worldwide. A year later there was an other Todd Terry single: ‘Ready For A New Day’ and ‘Somethin Going’ On’. And 1997 she gave us alo a great duet with RuPaul singing…. ‘It’s Raining Men’. It became, again, a mega hit.
Martha Wash and Jocelyn Brown
Always to be found for charity, she was asked for the ‘Small Voices, Sounds Of A Better World’ project, in 1999. The tittle of the song says it all: ‘Listen To The People (Listen To The Sound of a Better World). In 2011 the song was used for the Arabian Spring movement, for more freedom, human rights and democraty. The single contains some great versions of this timeless song.
Small Voices Calling – Feat. Martha Wash, Listen To The People (Listen To The Sound of a Better World), 1999
Martha Wash, considered a gay icon since The War Memorial Concert in 1979 a few months after the vey Harvey Milk, 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 in 2005. Wash performed in the opening ceremony of the World’s first ‘Out Games’ in Montreal in July 2006 and she performed at numerous Human Rights Campaign events in the U.S. The gay-themed podcast Gay Pimin’ 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.
Martha Wash ‘I’ve Got You’ (Click photo to enlarge).
Martha Wash ‘Ive Got You (Official Music Video), 2011
She was a performer at the annual Big Gay Day in Brisbane, Australia on March 9, 2008 and 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 NAGAA 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 Oct. 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 ‘blew of the roof’ this classic with Paul Schaffer, 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’. 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, people! Pure timeless quality! Martha Wash is a two-time Grammy Nominee, known for her distinctive and powerful dramatic soprano voice. Ms. Wash has been dubbed ‘The Queen of Clubland’ due to her ongoing success in the dance music genre. Martha’s fame would have made her mentor, the late disco pioneer Sylvester, proud. Vèry proud!
Martha Wash ‘Something Good’.
For Martha Wash, it certainly is her time to shine!
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. Her second single ‘It’s My Time’ a power ballad, was written by Swedish singer and songwriter Helena Johansson. An amazing beautiful song, wich reflects Martha Wash powerful voice, 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.
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’. Like every year, we could find Martha performing at World Pride, last year summer 2014 she performed in Toronto, Canada.
First Ladies of Disco: Martha Wash, Evelyn ‘Champagne’ King and Linda Clifford launch new single ‘Show Some Love’ (Photo by Mike Ruiz).
2014, Martha Wash, Evelyn ‘Champagne’ King and Linda Clifford came together and created in 2015 the show ‘First Ladies of Disco’ inspired by James Arena’s book ‘First Ladies of Disco: 32 Stars Discuss the Era and Their Singing Careers’, a best seller in the United States, Canada and Europe.They paying tribute to some of the people that are not in the show, but were part of the disco era, like Donna Summer, and even Sylvester. These legendary vocalists are coming together to bring you what will be one of the most talked about shows in dance music history.
Martha Wash, not only one of the greatest voices in modern music. But also one of the most beautiful and loyal persons in the music business. Loyal to her friends, her colleagues, her fans, and countless ‘unknown’, Always working tirelessly on many benefits, and helps to raise much needed funds.
But now: it certainly is her time to shine! Honey, your ear has to bé in your foot!