I have been a fan of Martha Wash for a long, long time. From "It's Raining Men" to "Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)" to "Strike It Up" and my all time favorite "God Bless The Road." I was fortunate enough to interview Martha in 2010 at the "QSAC Got Talent" benefit gala (a non-profit organization providing comprehensive services to individuals with Autism and their families).
It's a real honor to have the opportunity to catch up with her now as she gets ready to show us her acting chops in the 10-minute staged reading of I Want to Eat Brains (or the Day I Killed All My Friends), as part of the Fresh Grind Festival, a festival of public staged readings at Theaterlab.
I Want to Eat Brains (or the Day I Killed My Friends) is a musical parody about a zombie apocalypse and will play at Theaterlab (357 West 36th Street between 8th and 9th Ave) on Friday, January 20 at 8pm. Click here for tickets!
1. This January you are starring in a 10-minute staged musical reading of I Want to Eat Brains (or the Day I Killed All My Friends) as part of the Fresh Grind Festival. After all these years of being a singer, what made you want to turn to acting at this stage of your career? I’ve always been open to other avenues in this business. I’ve done theatre before, back in 2003 I did a production called Love On Layaway. I have auditioned for many Broadway shows over the years. I just completed a movie called Wholly Broken. It’s a faith-based movie musical that can be turned into a TV series.
2. What do you get from acting that you don't get from singing? More of a challenge for myself rather than anyone or anything else.
3. What made you want to be part of this particular musical? My manager James Washington sent it to me and I read the script and thought it was funny and said yes.
4. I Want to Eat Brains (or the Day I Killed All My Friends) is a musical parody about a zombie apocalypse. What is the best part about living in a zombie world? Well as long as there are humans still alive, you have food!
5. What do you relate to most about your character? What is one aspect of your character that you say to yourself, "Girl, you keep that part of you to yourself, I'm glad I don't possess that trait."? Well the only trait is that she’s sultry, so I can play that! Lol. Her lover loves her so much (although he just shot her in the head) she’s able to turn him into a zombie.
6. Since the show is called I Want to Eat Brains (or the Day I Killed All My Friends), I have to ask, have you ever eaten brains? If so, what did it taste like? And has there ever been a day where you thought, what would I do if all my friends were killed and I was alone? No, I’ve never eaten brains. I haven’t thought about losing all my friends, but if I did, I would be very sad because I’d think of our pasts. Life and time goes on and I would hope to make some new ones.
7. Now we have to switch gears and talk about your music. You have been singing in the music industry for over 40 years and it has changed a lot. What has been the hardest thing to adapt to? What do you feel is better now than when you first started out? I won’t say hardest but social media is the biggest thing. The internet. You can hear music anywhere and anytime now. The best thing is you can listen to so many more artists that you would never hear on mainstream radio.
- If the world could be "Raining Men," who would you want to be pouring down all around you? Idris Elba.
- When you want to "Strike It Up," how does Martha Wash accomplish that? A club.
- One of your more recent songs is "Something Good." What is something good that has happened to you in the past year or two? Expanding my record label "Purple Rose Records" to include Heritage Artists. "First Ladies of Disco" which include myself, Evelyn Champagne King & Linda Clifford. We recorded a single ("Show Some Love") which reach the Top 10 on the Billboard Dance Club Charts. Our follow up success was with "The Ritchie Family," who happen to be THE first girl disco group to chart on Billboard Dance Charts 40 years ago, making them literally the First Ladies Of Disco. Their new single "ICE" hit the top 40, and both songs can be found on ITunes and CDBaby.
- On that same album you recorded a song called "Dream On." What are you dreaming of still doing that you haven't done yet? I’d still like to do a Gospel and a Christmas CD
9. One of my favorite songs of yours is "God Bless The Road." There was a time I made a survival mix, it was a mix of songs that helped me through rough times and "God Bless The Road" was at the top of that mix. The song is all about believing in yourself. This is a three part question.
- What do you ask God to Bless the Road you are walking with these days? For strength to continue to walk in His light. To still love one another. Sometimes that is easier said than done.
- What did you used to want him to bless you with? I would probably say material things. Now I can say, "Don’t have to have it."
- What was going on in your life during the time you recorded that song that made you go, I need to record this song? Not a thing. I just believed that everyone could relate to this song if they really thought about it.
10. One of your biggest hits was "It's Raining Men," which we briefly talked about in question 7. In 1997, you re-recorded this song with RuPaul, which I love! What made you want to re-record this song with him? The head of the label suggested it would be a good idea. I thought yeah. Everyone knew who RuPaul was and the thought of us doing it together would be big fun, you know putting his spin on it!
11. What's next for Martha Wash? I’m still working on the new album. It will be out this year. Continue to build the record label and reintroduce artists that you haven’t heard from in awhile. Work on more acting. We are in pre-production for my new Youtube show called 10 Minutes with Martha Wash, which I am very excited about, and will debut this summer.
12. On "Call Me Adam" I have a section called One Percent Better, where through my own fitness commitment, I try to encourage people to improve their own life by one percent every day. What is something in your life that you want to improve by one percent better every day? Getting a better hold of my time and things that I need to do.
THERE IS ONLY ONE MARTHA WASH. Martha Wash’s unmistakable voice has been capturing the hearts of millions of people around the world for decades. The two-time Grammy nominee is responsible for some of the biggest-selling, most beloved pop and dance hits in music history, and it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the irresistible charm of her astonishing répertoire. Think of her legendary backup work as part of Two Tons Of Fun for Sylvester’s disco classics, such as "(You Make Me Feel) Mighty Real." Remember how you celebrated the unrestrained joy of "It’s Raining Men," where she performed as one half of the Weather Girls. Recall the sizzling heat of her powerhouse rendition of "Gonna Make Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)," the highlight of C+C Music Factory’s career and a number one pop smash. Re-live that feeling of rapture you felt from her performance on the Dreamland album by Black Box, which featured three Top 40 Billboard hits, including "Everybody, Everybody." Is it any wonder today that Martha is considered the very heart and soul of dance music?
But make no mistake—Ms. Wash’s reputation isn’t just built upon the past. She has remained one of the world’s most in-demand vocalists and continues to command the attention of millions of fans, far beyond the confines of vintage dance music. After establishing herself as a celebrated solo artist with the release of "Carry On," another number one Billboard dance hit in the early ’90s, Martha released a string of hits that made her one of club land’s most enduring and prolific vocalists. The award-winning duet with Jocelyn Brown, "Keep On Jumpin’," and the glorious anthem "Catch The Light," paved the way for Martha to ignite the dance floors of a new generation.
Some of Ms. Wash’s most creative efforts have come to light in recent years. In 2012, she released her stunning and critically acclaimed LP, Something Good. This collection adventurously expanded the artist’s musical boundaries with unexpected journeys into pop and rock, such as her stellar rendition of Aerosmith’s 1973 gem "Dream On." Soon after she reached number two on the Billboard dance chart in a special remix of "I’m Not Coming Down" that set floors on fire. In 2015, she was back at the number one spot on the survey with "Free People," a riveting collaboration with famed DJ Tony Moran, bringing her Billboard number one count to a staggering 14.
Also in 2015, Martha teamed with dance icons Evelyn "Champagne" King and Linda Clifford under the moniker First Ladies of Disco (inspired by the book of the same name by James Arena). Their anthemic song of unity—the Top 10 Billboard dance hit "Show Some Love"—was a victory for heritage artists everywhere, thanks to the visionary efforts of Ms. Wash and James Washington, business manager and A&R executive of her independent recording label, Purple Rose Records, which released the project. The group First Ladies of Disco has been touring and selling out shows across the country ever since.
Due to this recent success Purple Rose records has started a Heritage Department and recently released its next project with the legendary group The Ritchie Family (Best Disco in Town and Brazil) and their new pop/dance single "ICE," www.theritchiefamily.band. As the owner of Purple Rose, Martha is actively promoting both her own excitingly progressive projects and the talents of vocalists who have shared her incredible journey over the years. She’s also launched a new show called Hot ’n Retro, in which she serves as a unifying focal point that melds the soundtrack of her astonishing history in dance music with those of her special guests—some of the greatest artists of the genre from decades’ past.
Martha Wash has a level of experience in the music business that few artists can claim. She knows a thing or two about the struggles performers endure. Ms. Wash has encountered more than any vocalist’s fair share of adversity, and is widely lauded as a model of perseverance.
Martha famously filed suit against Black Box and C+C Music Factory for failing to give her due credit for her lead vocals on their albums. This lawsuit ran in tandem with another case, which centered on the Milli Vanilli lip-syncing scandal of 1990. As a result of the lawsuits, record labels were forced to assign proper vocal credit for all albums and music videos. Wash had become an unwitting industry pioneer. Martha is an accomplished speaker about this and other aspects of her life and career, having lectured to audiences at a wide range of organizations and public events (including NYU Clive Davis School of Music, Billboard Music Conference and SAGE Center Harlem).
Martha also stays busy with her charity work as a spokesperson for QSAC, Inc., a non-profit organization providing comprehensive services to individuals with autism and their families. The You Can Play Project, a not-for-profit dedicated to ensuring equality, respect and safety for all athletes, without regard to sexual orientation.
Martha Wash is a star. But she’s not about to trip on it. "You have to pay so much to be a 'star,' I don’t take the hype seriously." Unquestionably, hype can be a flash in the pan—Martha Wash is anything but. Her voice is one of the very few in contemporary music that has been taken seriously, endured and grown ever more rich in beautiful and unexpected ways, earning the respect and admiration of fans and peers worldwide. Hers is a voice that has been honed to perfection with songs that lift the spirit and inspire the soul.
And for Martha Wash, the best is yet to come.