though you may think yourself unfamiliar with the powerhouse voice of dance diva martha wash, you are probably wrong. with songs such as "you make me feel mighty real", "it's raining men" and "gonna make you sweat (everybody dance now)" to her credit, it seems likely that anybody who has stepped onto a dancefloor since the 1970s has encountered this musical force of nature. from unknown back-up talent to girl group co-conspirator to solo siren, martha wash's voice has contributed more to dance music than other single person's.
little is publicly known about martha wash, prior to her debut as half of two tons of fun. as two tons of fun, wash, along with friend izora armstead, sang back-up for 70s sensation, sylvester. having garnered a large following among gay men, two tons of fun release two albums÷two tons of fun and backatcha÷as well as appearing on a paul jabara album (which also featured a twenty year-old whitney houston). the first single from their third album, "it's raining men" made a name for two tons of fun·literally. rumor has it that djs, unfamiliar with two tons of fun, took the opening line of "it's raining men"÷which introduces izora and martha as "your weather girls"÷too seriously and mistook it for the group's actual title. the name stuck and the song became a huge success, returning to the charts again in 1984. success produced two other singles÷"i'm gonna wash that man right out of my hair" and "success"÷but none fared as well as their signature song.
the weather girls were reborn in 1988, with a self-titled release. this time, cheryl pepsii riley's boys, full force, stepped in for jabara, producing three of the ablum's tracks. as the eighties faded into the nineties, martha stepped behind the scenes to provide back-up vocals for some of the industry's heavy-hitters. just then, scandal broke. letting greed cloud good judgement, producers of black box, c+c music factory and seduction used tracks intended as background harmonization as lead vocals without crediting or compensating the diva. it is alleged that the groups committed this heinous act to cover the fact that their own barbie-doll front girls couldn't sing; they feared including wash, a full-figured woman, in promotional materials would damage the groups' image within the club community. lawsuits were filed and, after a long and hard battle, wash prevailed. during an interview with arsenio hall, the talk show host asked wash how she could have possibly proven that her's was the voice we heard on the songs in question. without so much as batting an eyelash, wash opened her mouth and let loose, "everybody dance now!"; there were no further questions.
settlements with black box included a solo recording contract with the record label; as an aside, black box has since suffered relative obscurity, releasing only one new single since loosing their golden goose. clivilles and cole, regretting their transgression, invited wash to accompany the factory's front girl, zelma davis, on their album anything goes. details of any settlement reached between wash and seduction have gone undisclosed.
wash's self-titled solo album, which produced the singles "give it to you" and "carry on", refused to perform as well as one might expect from the queen of club music, despite respectable club play. wash has toured extensively on the club circuit and remains a favorite among gay men, performing at pride celebrations across the country. in 1996, todd terry teamed martha with jocelyn brown for "keep on jumpin'" and "something goin' on" which was released both as a single and on terry's album. in 1997, wash re-released the 1993 hit "carry on" with '97 remixes, as well as the 1983 hit "it's raining men" with drag diva rupaul replacing izora armstead. rumor has it that january of 1998 will finally see the release of martha's long-awaited greatest hits album, the collection.
martha wash has endured a twenty year career peppered with hardship and strife, throughout which she has witnessed the death of friends and loved ones. by standing up for herself and for the gay community, and by setting a new standard of beauty for the music industry, martha was has truly earned the name diva.