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Martha's Back and Better Than Ever!

NAJM Dance Culture
Her voice has been described as a "National Treasure". With her enormous musical contributions to dance music, Martha Wash continues to bring us incredible performances each and every new project she undertakes. After suffering a tragic loss this past fall, Martha is starting all over again.
Martha is back, and she's better than ever. Her newest release is “Listen To The People” from the “Sounds of a Better World, Small Voices Calling” charity that provides programs and services to children in need.  

 

NAJM:  Let me just start by saying that we are so happy to have you as a part of the NAJM site. Ever since we launched our Celebrity Interview Section, one of our goals has been to interview you. You’ve given the dance world so much of your talent, your heart and your soul. We just wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for the contribution you’ve made to this industry.
MW:  Well, thank you.
dot_clear.gif (43 bytes) NAJM: Tell us about your new single. I know that it was done as part of a children's charity recording entitled “Sounds of A Better World – Small Voices Calling”.

MW:  Right. Basically it’s a song about a hope, about children having their voices heard. [It’s also] about adults who need [to have] their voices heard. With this new millennium happening, it’s important that everyone be heard. A lot of times people can kind of fall through the cracks of society and the law and things like that. They need to be heard also. There are still some great people out there and children that have had hard times and problems. They need help just as much as everybody else does, you know?
NAJM:  Sure. It’s a really great concept and very admirable. How did you connect with “Sounds of A Better World”? It is such a good project.
MW:  The gentleman, actually husband and wife, Jim Papoulis started the foundation. They have two small little girls and they wanted to do something to start a children’s foundation to try and help kids and adults who basically need help. They were the ones who started it. Jim Papoulis is a writer, arranger, [and] conductor. He started writing these songs and he decided to put it on a compilation album. He asked different artists to contribute. So having worked with Jim over the years off and on, he asked me if I would be interested in doing this song [and] work on this project with him and I said, “sure”.
NAJM:  It’s a great project with wonderful music. I’ve had an opportunity to listen to not only the single, but also the compilation, which is very good and well put together. We caught your performance at “The Pier” last Labor Day Weekend. You did a Tea Dance type deal in Ft. Lauderdale. It was great. You recently performed at the world class Carnegie Hall with the “Sounds of a Better World – Small Voices Calling” project. What was it like to perform there after becoming so accustomed to typical nightclub acoustics?
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Martha Belts Out at NY's Carnegie Hall

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MW:  Performing in the clubs (laughs)? [Performing at Carnegie Hall] was great! It was really, really great! That was my first time performing there too, so I was very excited.
NAJM:  It was very special too, I’m sure.
MW:  Yes, definitely. It was good; the audience itself was actually great. It was just about sold out. The reviews that we got were very good. I think that everybody that worked on the project was just excited about being able to do this at Carnegie Hall, so I think it was just great for everybody.
NAJM:  Not only that, but it also creates good buzz, and obviously generates revenue for the charity. So that’s great! I’ve been speaking with Michael (at Vital Records) and he said that the DVD is going to be out soon. It’s in production now, so I’m looking forward to that as well. Are you going to tour with the new single? If so, are you planning any South Florida appearances?
MW:  I’m supposed to be in Ft. Lauderdale, I just don’t know the name of the club right now. But I believe it’s April 23. I’ve got to find out the name of the club, and when I do, I’ll call you and let you know.
NAJM:  We would appreciate that. You have been doing dance music for a very long time. You’ve had a spectacular career that spanned people like Sylvester, The Weather Girls, C+ C Music Factory, Black Box, your debut self entitled album, last summer's tribal anthem "Come", to your most recent gospel inspired single “Listened to the People”. You've seen a lot of different musical fads come and go. Where do you think the future of dance music lies?
MW:  Honest to God, I really don’t know (laughs). I really don’t.
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Martha on NAJM's "Melodic House" Movement

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NAJM:  We love vocal tracks with soul, and you’ve continually provided us with great work over the years. We’re starting a musical movement called “Melodic House”.  We are trying to get the focus of dance music back to the artist with the melody and away from the programmers, with just the boom, boom, and boom.
MW:  I do agree with what you’re saying about it getting back to vocals. That’s from my standpoint as a singer. If you want to do instrumentals, then do instrumentals but if your going to have a person singing the song then let them sing the song. The instrumentation you want to put in there is fine, but the basis of the song should be the vocals.
NAJM:  How do you think we here at NAJM can promote “Melodic House” and get the focus back to someone such as yourself? How can we promote it?
MW:  I think just keep playing music that has singing with it, as opposed to [just] instrumentation.
NAJM:  Do you think that dance music has become too DJ driven?
MW:  Yes. I think going back to the remixes, when the singles first came out there were just a couple of versions. Now, when a song comes out, there are like 50,000 versions! I’m saying, “how many times can you re-do this”? After a while, it gets really old, you know? What else can be done with a song?
NAJM:  Hence the birth of the dub.
MW:  It gets to be a bit much after a while. At one time it was just the original version, a radio mix and something for the clubs and that’s it. Now it’s just completely outrageous.
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Martha's Voice is a "National Treasure"!

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NAJM:  We recently read an online review of your new single “Listen To The People” on Amazon.com. The individual who was writing the review referred to your voice as a “National Treasure”.  How does that make you feel?
MW:  Old (laughing)!
NAJM:  What a good answer (laughing)!
MW:  I think it’s very, very nice. The person that was doing the review, that was very, very nice of them. But it makes me feel old (laughing). But then again, it’s nice to have longevity, too. That’s very important. I’ve had the longevity and more and more people kind of know my name.
NAJM:  I know that you shot the video for “Listen To The People” (Kung Pow Mix) over the weekend and apparently lots of people (fans) showed up. That must have been really encouraging and refreshing to see your name being recognized for who you are and for your talent.
MW:  Right.
NAJM:  Our core concept for our organization is "No Attitude Just Music".  With your enormous pop culture successes, how do you keep your attitude in check and project such positivity?

MW:  Being in this business for as long as I’ve been in it makes me look at other artists, and where their careers have gone, and their attitudes about being in the business. I basically try to keep my head on straight. I take it seriously, but I [also] don’t, because it’s a business. Just like being in movies, an actor or actress – after awhile, you’ve heard the saying, “they start believing their own hype” in the media, so I don’t think about that at all. I just go on and do the work and do the best that I can. Because it’s really just an image, a facade.

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More Laws Needed To Protect Artist's Rights...

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NAJM:  That’s a good rationalization. We recently interviewed another international diva, Vicki Shepard and she went through some of the same litigation that you went through in the past couple of years. Only in her case, it was an international issue and therefore the laws weren’t really on her side. We are aware that your recent case placed laws on the books to ensure that artists receive proper credit when contributing to a recording. Did you ever think that you'd have such a positive impact on this business that seems to have no rules?
MW:  Actually, no, I didn’t. I’d have to say that was because of my lawyer, Steven Ames Brown. He was the one who went before the court and argued the case, so no I really had no idea. After the lawsuit was settled as far as C & C [Music Factory] and Black Box were concerned, a lot of other people that were the business, musicians as well, were saying that they thought that it was the right thing to do, because it’s not fair. People want to take credit, especially with videos these days. These people out there on the video, lip-syncing to the vocals that you did and the public thinks that that is the original artist and the artist is singing. That’s not true, it’s a lie. So you really do have to be careful of that and not allow it to happen. It can ruin your career or stagnate your career if people don’t know who you are. They hear that voice, but they think it’s that person who’s on TV.
NAJM: You certainly set a precedent with that, so congratulations are in order for that as well.
MW:  Thank you.
NAJM:  Do you think there are enough laws in place to protect today's artists in the dance industry?
MW:  I don’t think there are enough laws to protect people in the industry, period. I think there needs to be more, especially in the international area as well. There is a lot pirating in a lot of foreign countries where artists never see a dime of royalties. They are selling millions of [illegal] copies of records in these countries. I think that’s a shame.
NAJM: That’s a crime.
MW:  Yes, it is. You’re absolutely right there.
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Advice From Martha...Don't Give Up!

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NAJM:  You’ve traveled a long road, and you’ve traveled it really well. Do you have any advice for people just starting out in this business?
MW:  Don’t give up! If you have a dream and you want to be in this business bad enough, don’t give up. I have to temper that with saying that people who see you on TV or see you in videos, think that it’s very easy. They think that they want to be in show business, and they want to do this. It’s very hard and if you don’t have the stamina, and if you don’t have the right attitude, then it can be a problem for you later on down the line. Sometimes people say, I have a recording contract and they’re happy about that. Well, anybody can get a [recording] contract. It’s doing the music and then having to promote it. [Unfortunately, it is] not necessarily the talent; it’s the image that you see on the screen that they are promoting. Talent is way down on the list, as opposed to where it used to be at number one.
NAJM:  You sure are right there.
MW:  You see these cookie cutter type groups and singers, where one kind of sounds like the song you heard about five minutes ago. So you wonder where is the continuity of the group, or the singer.
NAJM: There are many fans out there, like us here at NAJM who are craving your artistry. Do you have any plans or thoughts for another solo album?
MW:  Yes, I’d like to. At this particular time I’m taking things kind of slow and regrouping. I lost my manager in November. It’s been very hard, plus I was hospitalized. I’m kind of starting all over and doing things very slowly and trying to find another manager and trying to move on from there.
NAJM:  That must be very difficult.
MW:  Yes. We’d been together since I was a teenager.
NAJM:  Goodness, that’s very, very sad. We’re so sorry.
MW:  He was the one that basically took care of everything. We were close friends. So that’s very hard. Being in this business it’s harder to kind of start over as opposed to having an outside manager or agent working for you.
NAJM:  Sometimes your best friend makes your best manager, you know?
MW:  Yes. Sometimes that happens like that.
NAJM:  What is next for Martha Wash, after the tour?
MW:  Hopefully I’ll recording something, I’m not quite sure what. Like I said, things are kind of slow for me, trying to get things [back] together. Maybe towards Fall I would say I’d like to have something.
NAJM:  Well Martha, it’s been a great pleasure to speak with you this afternoon. Best of the luck with the new single “Listen To The People”, the new album, and the forthcoming DVD of the Carnegie Hall Concert. We love your talent and we are behind you all the way, No Attitude Just Music!
MW:  Gotcha, you take care, Jesse.
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Visit Sounds of a Better World Online

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For a listing of Martha Wash appearances, check out Artists In Action Part II

Check out NAJM's Review of "Listen To The People" & Album Review

Martha is Featured in NAJM's Listening Booth!

Link to Martha's Official Site!

     

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