Martha Wash, the Queen of Clubland, twirls into Baltimore this month as she performs at this year’s Baltimore Pride Festival. The two time Grammy nominated artist is best known for her work as part of the singing duo, The Weather Girls. Wash also provided the vocals for Black Box’s “Everybody, Everybody” and “Strike It Up” as well as lead vocals on C+C Music Factory’s No. 1 hit “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now).” Wash is also noted for spurring legislation for making vocal credits mandatory on CD’s after being denied proper credit and royalties in the early 1990s. Wash recently chatted with Gay Life about her upcoming performance, her views on the recent Supreme Court decision, and her reaction to the loss of a Baltimore gay landmark.
To start, what was your initial reaction when you heard the news of the recent decision by SCOTUS to legalize same-sex marriage throughout the United States?
I said great! That’s what the community was fighting for all this time and it should have been like that all along. It’s taken a lot of time and it’s finally here.
I was speaking to someone about [the ruling]last night. It seems that there are a few states holding out. You have the Supreme Court rule like this, and then you have have these other states that are in essence saying to the Supreme Court, “We’re not going to follow your ruling.” They are basically saying that “We are going to do what we want to do,” but at the same token some of these places want to go before the Supreme Court to get their own rules and laws passed. It’s kind of a slap in the face and almost like, well what does the Supreme Court know, but when it’s your turn you want them to be on your side and pass your laws. It’s kind of crazy for lawmakers to say,
“What does the Supreme Court know?” and “We’re going to do what we want to do.” And they can decide not to abide with what their ruling is. What can I say about the United States…we’re a trip!
In a 2014 Rolling Stone article, RuPaul mentioned that there was a direct correlation between your career and the struggles that many face within the LGBT community. Ru said that your “story speaks to disenfranchised people.” Do you feel that this is one of the many ways that you connect with people of the LGBT community?
I never really thought about it like that. My position has always been from the fans that have followed me all these many decades. In school I knew some guys that were gay, and we would hang out sometimes. More so, I would say it was after I started singing with Sylvester. We were playing a lot of gay clubs and that’s when I became immersed. They are still my biggest fan base and I’ve always appreciated that. They’ve followed me through the highs and lows of my career and I’m right there for them. I’ve always said I don’t care who you love. That’s none of my business. It’s all about love. There’s so much hate in this world that we need to focus on loving one another.
How do you feel when you hear people refer to you as a gay icon in the LGBT community?
I accept it. I’ve always accepted it. Look, people put labels on you for all kinds of stuff. I’ll take it!
Obviously, as one of The Weather Girls, you are known for your hit song, “It’s Raining Men.” I have to ask, which would you choose:
Tall or blonde?
Dark or lean?
Rough or tough?
Strong or mean?
You once said that if you hadn’t gone into singing you would have become a kindergarten teacher. Do you ever regret your decision?
I don’t think I would have made a great kindergarten teacher. I like children, although I don’t have any. I have nieces and nephews. I’m ‘Auntie Martha,’ but I don’t know if I would be able to last. In a way, I’m glad that I didn’t do it because teachers nowadays need combat pay. [Laughs]
Are you looking forward to performing at Pride in Baltimore?
Oh yeah! I’m not looking forward to the heat, though. [Laughs] It’s been a hot minute since I’ve been to Baltimore Pride. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing some old friends in the audience.
So, you’ve been to a few Baltimore Prides before?
Oh yeah! Many, many times over the years. Is The Hippo still in business?
Actually, it’s closing this summer.
Oh my goodness! After all these decades? There have been some good times at The Hippo. I’ve been there off and on for many years. I’m sorry to hear that.
Is there anything you hope to accomplish while you’re here?
I’m just happy to be there after so long. I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve recently been working with Linda Clifford and Evelyn Champagne King. We have come together and recorded a single called “Show Some Love.” We are going under the name First Ladies of Disco. We have been promoting the single. Hopefully there will be some new music going on. It’s under my label, Purple Rose Records. I may let people hear a little bit of it at the show, although Linda and Evelyn won’t be there. The song is really good. And if people want to purchase it they can find it on iTunes or Amazon.
And I’m sure you’ll want to take one more twirl on the dance floor at The Hippo.
Baltimore Pride 2015Gay Life July 2015