By SCOTT CARMAN
Winnipeggers are in for a cool treat on a hot day when Martha Wash takes to the stage at this year’s Pride Festival on June 5 at The Forks. They will be among the first in the world to hear The Queen of Clubland perform her new single, ‘I’ve Got You,” in front of a live audience.
The new single is due to be released at the end of May, just in time for Pride. The pop ballad features sweeping melodies, catchy hooks, and a chorus of back-up singers. It’s a bit of a departure for the woman who is responsible for delivering some of the biggest dance and house music hits of the last four decades.
“When I first heard the song, I wasn’t so sure about it,” Wash confided during a recent interview from her New York City home. “But my manager James said, ‘This is the song for you – you need to record this song.’ And the more I listened to it, the more I fell in love with it.”
Wash said the song is about how we all need a helping hand, and ties in nicely with Pride Winnipeg’s theme of “Unity” this year.
“Everybody takes away something different from this song,” Wash said. “A lot people end up in tears when they listen to it, but it’s not necessarily a sad song. It really means that we all need one another, and that I’ll be there for you, and we should all be there for each other, in a spiritual sense.”
Indeed, the song takes on special meaning in the context of this year’s Pride festivities. And Wash is excited about delivering it to an enthusiastic crowd at the Pride of Prairies – the largest Pride celebrations between Toronto and Vancouver.
“The gay community has been so supportive of me over the years,” Wash said. “They have been my #1 supporters through the years and they’re the ones who have kept me working all this time. I am so happy and grateful for that.”
Wash’s following in the queer community can be traced back to her breakthrough single “It’s Raining Men” in 1982, recorded by her band, The Weather Girls. The song was reprised in 1998 by Wash and RuPaul, and made popular again in 2001 when it was recorded and released by former Spice Girl, Geri Halliwell.
Since 1982, Wash has been responsible for some of the most memorable vocals in the history of dance and house music, including her work with Sylvester, Black Box (“Everybody Everybody,” “Strike It Up,” and “I Don’t Know Anybody Else”) and C+C Music Factory (“Gonna Make You Sweat/Everybody Dance Now”).
With a catalogue this impressive, Wash is sure to get the crowd on its feet at this year’s Pride Festival.
Despite her success in the charts and performing in front of large audiences all over the world, it was an intimate gig in Washington, D.C., that is the most memorable of Wash’s career – she performed at the White House in front of President Clinton and a number of VIP guests.
“I was watching TV on a Tuesday or something and President Clinton and the First Lady were doing a Christmas tour of the White House and I thought about how great it would be to perform there,” Wash said. “Two days later, I got a call asking if I would like to play at the White House – I almost fell off my seat. It was such a coincidence. So by that Saturday of the same week I was at the White House performing in front if the President of the United States of America. I’ll never forget that.”
When she’s not busy performing and recording, Martha finds time to volunteer for Quality Services for the Autism Community (QSAC), a New York City-based non-profit organization that provides comprehensive services to individuals with autism, and their families. She is QSAC’s celebrity spokesperson and lends her distinctive and powerful voice to help spread QSAC’s mission of helping individuals with autism to live meaningful and fulfilled lives.
For more information about Martha Wash, her new single “I’ve Got You” and the video that accompanies it, please visit her website at www.marthawash.com.