Martha Wash: The Most Famous Unknown Singer of the ’90s

Fantastic article (which I discovered on Digg, incidentally)

In 1989, Wash received a call to record with a trio of Italian house music impresarios named Groove Groove Melody, who produced for outside singers. Unbeknownst to Wash, the trio had already used vocals from Loleatta Holloway’s 1980 disco song “Love Sensation” — the same song that Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch would use legally and liberally for “Good Vibrations” two years later — for “Ride on Time.” Now operating under the name Black Box, GGM brought in Quinol, a thin, French model, to lip sync the song in clubs before Holloway found out and sued. Although a settlement was eventually reached, the trio subsequently hired British singer Heather Small to replicate Holloway’s sampled vocal slices and re-released the song, assuming that no one would know — or care — enough to notice.

According to Wash, she was paid a flat fee to record demos to be presented to other singers. Instead, the producers included her vocals on nearly every song on Black Box’s debut album Dreamland, including future hits “Everybody Everybody,” “I Don’t Know Anybody Else,” “Fantasy” and “Strike It Up.” Wash was never credited in the album’s liner notes. While none of the producers in Black Box publicly said why Quinol was used as the face of Black Box in videos over Wash, it wasn’t hard to figure out. When Dreamland was released in May 1990, the cover featured a crouching Quinol, clad in a cropped jacket and mini skirt, showing off her toned legs and staring longingly.

via Rolling Stone.

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