Martha Wash :: 30 Year Rain!
On a clear Sunday afternoon the weather called for possible showers. On the West Side's Eagle Nest Studios in NYC, cast amid a bevy of the most beautifully carved bronzed warriors on the planet, dance diva Martha Wash glowed like the mighty Aphrodite. Behind the careful lens and his masterful gaze, image-maker Mike Ruiz caught the moment like a lightning rod. The occasion? The 30th anniversary of the release of hit dance anthem "It's Raining Men".
It's impossible to look upon Martha Wash in the here and now, who as one-half of The Weather Girls, recorded the track with her long-time band mate Izora Armstead in 1982. The song was co-written by legendary music man Paul Shaffer and offered first to Diana Ross, Donna Summer, Cher and even Barbra Streisand, before falling into the lap of Wash and Armstead. The forecast called for a dance anthem...and club land thundered!
"I am delighted it's lasted this long," Wash told us, even though she admits that it was Shaffer who rallied for the song's success and shopped it around. First to the discos, then to radio. "Really I just walked out of the studio and said 'See ya!'," she elaborated. It wouldn't be long before "It's Raining Men" with its cheeky camp value became a sensation with gay fans. "It became a hit long before radio picked up on it," much to Martha Wash's delight, synching her place in the pantheon of gay icons.
If there’s anyone who knows about icons, and creating iconic moments, it’s celebrity photographer Mike Ruiz. A longtime fan of the hit song, he’s been recruited to capture the cover of the song’s 30th anniversary re-release. "There are few times in my life where I come full circle in my career," Ruiz tells us, "and as a teenager I remember hearing this song and beelining for the dance floor. It’s influenced me creatively and culturally."
"It’s Raining Men" endured beyond the days of disco and made Martha Wash a force to be reckoned with in music. She’s evolved into one of the dance music genres most distinct voices and her signature anthems still rally everyone onto the floor. "I have always maintained that disco really never went anywhere," says Wash. "It just evolved into dance."
Certainly the impact disco and "It’s Raining Men" has had on gay club-culture is enough to celebrate the value of a catchy hook and of course, the power of the dance diva providing those vocals. "Disco has persevered and remains so relevant still today, and continues to have a more profound influence on pop-culture," recognizes Ruiz. He knows first hand how music colors everything from fashion to current events and gives credit to Martha Wash and her musical contribution’s longevity, as he puts his own stamp of the hit track for an entire new generation. "I’m hoping this tribute will bring it all back."
Looking through his lens, a dozen Spartan gods encircling the musical goddess, the emphatic pulse of the flash striking, an image for the ages being forged on the refracted light of the disco ball, you can’t help but hope Mike Ruiz is right. No doubt at the first sign of thunder, fans will be ripping off the roof. Martha Wash’s forecast is still reigning...30 years later.
"It’s Raining Men" by The Weather Girls and featuring Martha Wash will celebrate its 30th anniversary with a special release this summer and new cover art to commemorate the occasion will be created by Mike Ruiz. Listen closely and stay alert - the clouds will be rolling in this summer!