Martha Wash was sitting in a Los Angeles hotel room, furious and confused. It was late 1990 and the singer, relaxing before a show that night, had decided to unwind with some channel surfing. She stumbled upon a new music video by Italian house group Black Box, whose synth lines, horn stabs and pulsating, club-tailored drum patterns had already made them dance music stars. When the song's vocals kicked in, she was shocked to see French model Katrin Quinol, the ex-girlfriend of founding member Daniele Davoli, bending over and crouching in a unitard, lip-syncing Wash's vocals to the eventual hit "Everybody Everybody."
"I said to myself, 'I don't believe this shit is happening again," says the now 60-year-old Wash. "I called my manager and said, 'I just heard myself on TV in a video.'"
"Again" is the operative word, as just a few months prior, Wash heard her ostensible demo vocals being lip-synced by singer Zelma Davis in the video for C+C Music Factory's monstrous club hit "Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)." A frustrating cultural conundrum had taken effect: Martha Wash's voice was famous, but she wasn't.