TikTok reveals little-known truth behind popular ’90s song

Singer Martha Wash is finally getting the credit she deserves — decades later. 

It’s unlikely that you haven’t heard Wash’s powerful voice. It’s more likely that you didn’t know it was her singing. She’s the singer behind a slew of hits in the ’80s and ’90s, like “It’s Raining Men,” “Gonna Make You Sweat” and “Strike It Up.” Yet the music industry that constantly sought out her covetable voice also conspired to erase Wash’s contributions because she didn’t fit the era’s beauty ideals of thinness. 

Social commentator and TikToker Dara Starr Tucker shared a brief history of how Wash fought back against erasure and fatphobia. 

Tucker explained that when C+C Music Factory’s Robert Clivillés and David Cole recorded the chart-topping Billboard Hot 100 hit “Gonna Make You Sweat,” they used Wash’s vocals. However, the music group hired a thinner model to lip-sync the song in the music video and participate in all the promotions. 

In July 1990, Wash sued C+C’s label, Sony Entertainment. The lawsuit forced the company to include a disclaimer in the music video that properly credited her. Soon after, the Italian music group Black Box pulled a similar stunt with Wash. 

Black Box tricked her into providing vocals for six songs on the group’s album, only to hire a thinner model to replace Wash in live performances, music videos and promotions. Wash sued RCA records, who gave her a cash settlement and a record deal

Because of Wash’s pushback, artists today still benefit. Her lawsuits resulted in federal legislation that made it mandatory to credit vocalists in albums and music videos. 

“Misogynoir and fatphobia derailed Martha Wash’s career. That is it. Without bigotry, she’d be a blockbuster superstar,” a user commented

“So Martha Wash was the voice of my youth, and I had no clue,” another responded

“Fatphobia has been such a cornerstone of society for so long. I’m glad she pushed back,” someone wrote

In 2014, Rolling Stone asked Wash how she felt about the efforts to undermine her accomplishments. 

“I’m still here. I had the knock upside the head a few times, but I wouldn’t change it for anything because it’s helped me be who I am,” Wash told Rolling Stone. “Your head hurts now, but later, you can say, ‘I lived through it.’”

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