Sexy Lady + Big Voice = Big Lie

Around 2AM last night, while I was lying in my hotel bed, I received an urgent Facebook message from my friend Jeremy insisting that I watch this video if I know what’s good for me:

I watched the first few seconds and let myself get swept up in the catchy groove, but then I jolted back to reality when this tiny waif onscreen opens her mouth and unleashes this raw gospel growl. Impressed, I decide to google the group (Black Box) to find out more about them. What do I discover? A mess of hit singles and a huge lawsuit. As it turns out, the lithe black woman in the music video was not providing the vocals at all. “Ride on Time”, the song I was first intrigued by was actually built on an uncredited sample of Loleatta Holloway’s 1980 disco hit “Love Sensation” – the same song that Marky Mark used, with proper permissions, to make the hook of his cult hit “Good Vibrations.” Hathaway ended up getting paid an undisclosed sum after launching a press attack against Black Box after “Ride on Time” became a huge club hit.

Black Box’s sins did not stop with “Ride on Time” and Loleatta Holloway. For the remainder of their hit singles, vocals came from Martha Wash, formerly of The Weather Girls (“It’s Rainin’ Men”). Black Box never gave Wash any formal credit for her MAJOR contribution to their success, so she took them to court – and WON!

Most gay men love a big black girl who can scream her lungs out, but we do not control the market now and we certainly didn’t in 1989. Sex sells and straight men control the market. If you want to get the attention of the straight male, throw a skinny girl up in a music video with long legs and a low-cut top. Just don’t expect people to buy the act when you’re giving live performances like this:

It seems ridiculous now that Black Box couldn’t trust such a strong voice to sell itself, especially in the wake of major stars like Jennifer Hudson, Jennifer Holliday, Patti LaBelle, and Aretha Franklin. Martha Wash and Loleatta Holloway should be right up there with them – celebrated for their powerful vocals.

I leave you with a video of Martha Wash reclaiming one of her Black Box hits. Enjoy.

Any favorites from the Jock Jams era that I should know about?

Share it in the comments!

    • Rex
    • February 18th, 2010

    Blackbox hid the woman behind the voice – but so did the producers of the Weather Girls video of Raining Men – – the camera only shows Martha in costumes or tight shots of her face – when the passion is loose in her voice we’re watching buffed men twirling umbrellas – with angel wings no less. You cite some examples of female vocalists who are breaking this buffoon barrier of long legs and halter tops – and I say good for them and for us – authentic passion and talent should never be hidden or disguised in any kind of dress me up package – we need real and we need it now.

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