More: How long have you been in the music business?
Martha Wash: Let’s put it this way: “Raining Men” will turn 30 years old next year.
More: OK, you just dated me.
MW: People in the business can’t believe it either, but it is true and it is good to still be here. That song is an official classic.
More: How do you view the music industry, considering it has been unfair to you?
MW: Over time it has gotten better in terms of accepting us full-figured women being out there. When I was starting to sing with Sylvester as a backup singer, there were no large background singers or front artists—maybe Mama Cass [Cass Elliot] but that was it. In that respect the industry has come a long way. Look at Adele now. She is great. I would like to think the public can like whomever they want regardless of a person’s appearance but rather for her sound and music.
More: Does it upset you that the music industry treated you differently because you weren’t a size 0?
MW: Yes. Even when I recorded with Two Tons O' Fun, the record industry didn’t know what to do with us or how to market us. We were large women who could sing. However, the thinking at these companies can be very narrow-minded, and they feel they need to dictate what the public hears and sees.
More: That must take a toll on your self-esteem?
MW: It didn’t bother me too much because that is just what I was—I was a large woman who loved to sing—so I had to deal with it. After I had my last two solo, I decided to do it on my own. I mean, why bother with a record company if they aren’t going to promote you and market you?
More: Is that why you recently lost 75 pounds?
MW: That was for health reasons. I became sick. My weight got really out of control. I was paying attention to it but I wasn’t paying attention to it, if you know what I mean. I saw the numbers but I kept saying, “If I gain five more pounds, then I will do something about it.” Then I wound up gaining 10 and 15 pounds. When I realized how much I weighed I was shocked and said, “I really have to get the weight off.”
More: Were you ill?
MW: I had gall bladder problems. I had to get my gall bladder removed. I was filleted like a fish because the gall bladder adhered to my stomach so the doctors had to scrape it off, which was no fun. I had to be in the hospital for two weeks and then go back a year later to remove the stones they could not get to before. As a result I developed a liver infection.
More: How did you drop the weight?
MW: Diet and exercise. I joined Curves and started working out three times a week doing cardio and weight lifting. I did the dieting on my own as opposed to following a program like Jenny Craig or Weight Watchers. Basically, I ate a lot of salads.
More: That's a great ego boost?
MW: I felt good, really good. It was great to see the dress sizes start to drop. It took about a year to lose the 75 pounds. You have to always remember to have the mind frame to say, “I can do it,” because there were moments when I got discouraged because I didn’t lose any weight for, like, a week or two.
More: Why get discouraged?
MW: I didn’t understand why the weight wasn’t dropping all of the time. I was saying, “I am eating right and exercising. Why isn’t the scale moving downward?” But I learned I had to plow through it. To keep going, I had to find something that worked for me.