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Where In The World Is........Thelma Houston?
It was hard to avoid disco during the second half of the 70's. It propelled established stars into the stratosphere (The Bee Gees), it made new superstars (Donna Summer), and, in the case of Thelma Houston, it gave an artist who had yet to have a hit a moment in the sun.
Born Thelma Jackson in Leland, Mississippi, Thelma Houston's family eventually moved to Long Beach, California. Like many stars, she became interested in music at a young age and became a member of the gospel group The Art Reynolds Singers. This led to a solo recording deal with Dunhill Records. In 1971, she landed at the crown jewel of record labels, singing with Motown. Having Berry Gordy's producing, writing, and marketing muscle failed to produce success for Houston. She added acting to her resume, and by 1975 she had a few near misses musically. Just as Motown was about to release Houston's single "Do You Know Where You're Going To", a last minute decision to shelve Houston's version and have Diana Ross record it as the theme song for her film Mahogany cost Houston a potential breakthrough hit. She remained a valuable utility player for Motown, however, as she provided backing vocals for several albums including Jermaine Jackson's debut solo effort. In 1977, as disco was becoming the dominant genre on the charts, Thelma Houston would have her hit. And it would be one for the ages.
The first single off Houston's third Motown album "Any Way You Like It" was a cover of a song originally done by Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, who had a Disco hit with it in 1975. Thelma Houston would make it a classic. "Don't Leave Me This Way" was a multi-chart smash, hitting #1 on both the Billboard Hot 100 AND R&B charts as well as the Club Play charts. On the radio or on the dance floor, it was hard to escape "Don't Leave Me This Way" in early 1977. It looked like Thelma Houston might soon be stealing the songs from Diana Ross.
A combination of the lack of a follow up hit and the pending backlash against disco doomed further chart success for Thelma Houston. For the remainder of her recording career, she has only had minor R&B chart hits. Undaunted, she continued to record throughout the 80's and 90's and also turned to acting, making guest appearances on several TV shows and movies. The 90's saw her perform at some of the most prestigious and massive events of the decades, including an audience with the Pope and Woodstock '94 as part of the Sisters of Glory (also featuring Phoebe Snow, CeCe Peniston, and Mavis Staples).
The past decade has seen Thelma Houston remain busy while reliving her "Don't Leave Me This Way" heyday touring with various disco acts on the state fair and amphitheater circuit. Her last studio album, "A Woman's Touch", was released in 2007 and featured covers of some of her favorite songs originally performed by male artists. She has also performed her signature song on two of America's biggest prime time TV shows in 2009, American Idol and America's Got Talent.
If you're gonna be a one hit wonder, you might as well be able to make it last for over thirty years! Here is Thelma Houston's moment in the spotlight......
Golden Hits Radio and GHR-2's Burning Question of the Day
The name on his birth certificate reads Steven Dimitri Georgiou, but we know him better as ______________.
Check back tomorrow @ Everything Oldies for the answer, and leave a Comment here with your best guess!
Yesterday's Burning Question (and Answer) of the Day
Which David Bowie hit was originally written for, and turned down by, Elvis?
Answer: "Golden Years"