02 December, 2007

Who's That Girl?

When Black Box had made it big in the UK, in 1989, my mum caught a glimpse of the band on Top of the Pops and noticed the attractive black woman performing their latest single. 'She's not singing that,' said mum. 'She wouldn't be able to produce a noise like that. That's a fat woman's voice.'

My mum knew nothing of the band - this was the first time she'd seen them, but even she could tell that 'Katrin', the woman purporting to be Black Box's lead vocalist, was merely a figurehead.

Black Box's skinny front-woman Katrin.

And indeed so she was, for the real vocalist on that song was Martha Wash.

The bubbly form of Martha Wash.

Way back in the late-1970s, Martha had been one half of The Weather Girls, whose 'It's Raining Men' had become a disco classic, and she was indeed the voice of all of Black Box's hits (except their first, 'Ride on Time', which had used a sample from Loleatta Holloway's 'Love Sensation'). She later lent her powerful vocals to C&C Music Factory on 'Sweat' and loads of other dance tracks in the 1990s.

So, let's compare the two woman performing 'Everybody, Everybody'. First up, it's Black Box:

And next, it's Martha:

Now, I know this is really unfair, but it does make me laugh. Boy George (that shrinking violet and notoriously shy gentleman) used to host a much-missed chat show on BSB called 'Blue Radio'. Every time they played a video by Black Box, George would mutter 'I'd love to see her birth certificate - I bet she used to be a man.'

Poor Katrin - not only did she fail to convince as a singer, she even failed to convince Boy George she was a woman.

Gotta admit though - she's a bit mannish....

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