Too Heavy To Sell Records?: The Martha Wash Story


martha washMartha Wash is a master vocalist who has sang a string of the biggest dance songs of all-time, yet to the majority of the public, she’s a virtual unknown.  When you watched all of the videos for C&C Music Factory, a slim model, Katrin Quinol, was seen singing in the videos.  But Katrin wasn’t the singer, she’s the eye candy.  The real vocals were Martha Wash, an obese African American with a powerhouse voice but an image deemed “unmarketable”, hence the musical cover-up.  Martha sued her label and demanded she receive credit for the vocals on the album liner notes.


katrin quinolC&C Music Factory wasn’t the first act to pull this stunt with Martha Wash.  In the 90’s, the Italian freestyle act, Black Box, hit it big with Everybody Everybody, Strike It Up, and Ride On Time.  Martha was the vocalist in the studio for two of these big hits, but when they’d perform the songs live, Katrin would lipsync with Martha Wash nowhere to be seen.   Remember this was during the Milli Vanilli controversy.   Previously, Martha was a visible and prominent member of Two Tons O’Fun and half of the duo, The Weather Girls who sang the gay anthem, It’s Raining Men. 


The 90’s dance pop scene changed with the times and Martha’s career evaporated after her lawsuits over image versus receiving credit for her work.   She released a couple of soundtrack hits, covers of Mr Big Stuff and Elton John’s I’m Still Standing.  In 2011, Martha Wash released an inspirational comeback single, I’ve Got You.  The song is so beautiful and a wonderful addition to her musical legacy.





  1. Katrin Quinol was the face of Black Box and could not sing at all. Zelma Davis was the face and (on several tracks) voice of C+C Music Factory for the first album. Vocalists rotated often, and include Martha Wash, Deborah Cooper, Michelle Visage, Barbara Tucker, etc. But Zelma can sing, as evidenced by her voice on “Just a Touch of Love” from that same C+C album, and more recently by her dance chart hit “Rise” with Mark Picchiotti in 2008. Please don’t mistake Zelma as a mistake along the lines of that tone-deaf Katrin Quinol of Black Box. And don’t even get me started on Wanda Dee’s shenanigans with the KLF name, abusing the vocals of Penny Ford.