Thelma Houston

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Thelma Houston, 2009

Thelma Houston (* 7. May 1946 as Thelma Jackson in Leland , Mississippi ) is an American R & B - and disco singer and occasional actress. Her greatest success, Don't Leave Me This Way, was a worldwide hit in early 1977, was awarded a Grammy and became one of the greatest disco classics of all time.

Live and act

Thelma Houston grew up in a modest family. Her mother worked as a cotton picker to support Thelma and her three sisters. The family moved to California in their youth. Houston graduated from high school, got married, and had two children. The marriage later ended in divorce. She took her first professional musical steps in the 1960s in the gospel band The Art Reynolds Singers. In 1966 she signed her first solo contract with Capitol, where she released the two unsuccessful singles Baby Mine (1966) and Don't Cry, My Soldier Boy (1967). The then manager of the Fifth Dimension , Marc Gordon, was so impressed by her voice that he got her a contract with ABC / Dunhill in 1969. Her debut LP Sunshower was produced in the same year by star producer and songwriter Jimmy Webb , who had also worked with The Fifth Dimension. Except for Jumpin 'Jack Flash from the Rolling Stones , he wrote all of the songs for Thelma, which he described in the liner notes as "the most wonderful talent he has ever met". Still, the work was unsuccessful.

In 1971 Houston signed a new contract: The singer released a few singles with the Motown sub-label Mowest as well as her second LP Thelma Houston (1972) before the brand was discontinued in 1973 and Houston switched to the main label Motown. In 1974 she achieved a respectable success with You've Been Doing Wrong for So Long - the recording was nominated for a Grammy and reached number 64 on the American R&B charts. Thelma Houston's most famous song Don't Leave Me This Way , originally by Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes , was a number one hit on the American pop and R&B charts in early 1977. In Germany she reached number 41 with the song in the same year. In 1978 she was awarded the Grammy for the best female R&B vocal performance. At the time, Houston was one of the most sought-after disco queens. But she could never really follow up on her biggest hit. Her other successes include Saturday Night, Sunday Morning (1979, USA 37th, R&B 19th) and You Used to Hold Me So Tight (1984, R&B 13th, UK 49th). In 1980 she worked again with Jimmy Webb: The LP Breakwater Cat contained five of his compositions; he also acted as executive producer of the album. In 1998 Houston had a vocal appearance in the film Studio 54 , which tells the story of the legendary New York disco . She interpreted Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas and contributed to the soundtrack of her biggest hit Don't Leave Me This Way . He was inducted into the newly established Dance Music Hall of Fame in 2004 . The following year, Houston won a copy of the comeback show Hit Me, Baby, One More Time by the American TV channel NBC . In 2007 her last album to date, A Woman's Touch , was released, which only contains songs that were originally recorded by male performers.

Houston continues to perform regularly. In 2016 she presented her program Thelma Houston: Motown, Memories & Me! .

Contrary to some sources, she is not related to Whitney Houston .


Chart positions
Explanation of the data
Don't Leave Me This Way
  DE 5 07.03.1977 (23 weeks)
  AT 18th 06/15/1977 (8 weeks)
  UK 13 02/05/1977 (8 weeks)
  US 1 December 18, 1976 (24 weeks)
If you feel it
  UK 48 06/27/1981 (4 weeks)
You Used to Hold Me So Tight
  UK 49 December 01, 1984 (9 weeks)
(I Guess) It Must Be Love
  UK 80 02/23/1985 (2 weeks)
Don't Leave Me This Way (re-recording)
  UK 35 01/21/1995 (2 weeks)



  • 1969: Sunshower


  • 1972: Thelma Houston
  • 1976: Any Way You Like It
  • 1977: Thelma & Jerry (with Jerry Butler )
  • 1978: The Devil in Me
  • 1978: Ready to Roll
  • 1978: Two to One (with Jerry Butler)
  • 1979: Ride to the Rainbow
  • 1982: Reachin 'All Around

Sheffield Lab

  • 1975: I've Got the Music in Me (with Pressure Cooker)


  • 1980: Breakwater Cat
  • 1981: Never Gonna Be Another One


  • 1983: Thelma Houston
  • 1984: Qualifying Heat


  • 1990: Throw You Down

Fonit Cetra

  • 1994: Thelma Houston (only in Italy)

Shout Factory

  • 2007: A Woman's Touch

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Biography, Allmusic
  2. [Quote from the LP back of the album Sunshower : "The most prodigious talent I have ever encountered ..."]
  3. Mowest Album Discography ( Memento of the original from January 13, 2010 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  4. ^ The Awards Insider , Los Angeles Times
  5. ^ Grammy home page
  6. ^ Breakwater Cat ,
  7. Allmusic
  8. Charts DE Charts AT Charts UK Charts US