b. Thelma Houston a.k.a. Thelma Jackson, 7th May 1946, Leland, Mississippi, U.S.A.
Thelma Houston is a singer and a songwriter, who also has had a successful career in the acting profession.
She is probably best remembered for her Disco version of the Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes evergreen, 'Don't Leave Me This Way'.
Born in Mississippi, Thelma Houston's mother worked on the cotton plantations.
She has three sisters, who spent their adolescence in California in Long Beach.
Thelma was later to marry (and divorce) and have two children, worked in a job in the health care field, and also joined the Art Reynolds Singers Gospel ensemble.
glory, glory hallelujah - 1966 / let's try to make it (flip of 'don't cry, my soldier boy') - 1967
The Art Reynolds Singers Gospel ensemble members included Art Reynolds, Thelma Houston, Alfreda James, Lillie Mae Brown, Glenna Session and Alexis Donadell.
They released the Capitol Records, Eddie Kendricks co-penned single 'Glory Glory Hallelujah' b/w 'I Won't Be Back' in 1966, with Thelma singing the lead on the top side.
At Capitol, Thelma released two further solo 45's, which were 'Baby Mine' and 'Don't Cry, My Soldier Boy', in 1966 and 1967 respectively.
sunshower - 1969 / thelma houston - 1972
In 1969 she signed to the Dunhill Records imprint (Fifth Dimension manager Marc Gordon liked her singing and helped her get a deal at the label), where, in 1969, she released her first album 'Sunshower'.
'Sunshower' was produced by, the highly regarded, Jimmy Webb.
At Dunhill, Thelma released 5 singles, 'Everybody Gets To Go To The Moon', 'Sunshower', 'Jumpin' Jack Flash', 'Save The Country' and 'The Good Earth' during 1969 and 1970.
In 1971 Thelma relocated to the Motown Records label, on their MoWest subsidiary, where she released her self titled debut album that year.
She released nine singles in between 1972 and 1974, which inluded 'I Want To Go Back There Again', 'Me and Bobby McGee', 'Piano Man', 'What If' and 'I'm Just A Part Of Yesterday'.
Thelma also released the single 'You've Been Doing Wrong for So Long' b/w 'Pick Of The Week' which reached number 64 on the U.S. Billboard R&B chart in 1974.
Enhancing her artistic portfolio, Thelma joined the cast of The Marty Feldman Comedy Machine, taking on several comedic roles, the same year.
In the latter part of that year, the show was shelved, and Thelma began performing at smaller venues.
i've got the music in me - 1975 / any way you like it - 1976
In 1975 she featured in the television film 'Death Scream', and signed to the Sheffield Lab label releasing 'I've Got the Music in Me'.
The album was recorded under the group name of Thelma Houston and Pressure Cooker.
Also that year, Thelma appeared on the Golden Globe Award broadcast performing the song 'On & On', additionally featuring in a tribute to Berry Gordy on the American Music Award broadcast singing 'You've Made Me So Very Happy'.
In 1976 Thelma inputted material to the soundtrack of the film 'The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings', which starrred Billy Dee Williams and James Earl Jones.
Thelma's 1976 version of the song 'Do You Know Where You're Going To' was set to be released, however, the song was given to Diana Ross as part of the movie soundtrack for the film 'Mahogany'.
Over this period, Thelma also sang backing vocals for Jermaine Jackson on his album 'My Name Is Jermaine'.
Thelma released her third album 'Any Way You Like It' in 1976, which included her version of the Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes', Gamble & Huff/Cary Gilbert penned, 1975 song 'Don't Leave Me This Way'.
The following year, the song charted at number one on the Billboard and R&B charts, winning Thelma a Grammy that year.
The the U.K. 'Don't Leave Me This Way' was released by both Thelma and Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, the melody being so strong that the single charted for both artists.
Thelma's follow up to 'Don't Leave Me This Way', was the Charlie Chaplin penned 'If It's The Last Thing I Do' ( a song originally destined for release in 1973).
thelma and jerry - 1977 / two to one - 1978
thelma and jerry butler 1977
1977 also saw Thelma collaborating with Jerry Butler on the album 'Thelma & Jerry' , which saw the release of the single 'It's A Lifetime Thing' b/w 'Kiss Me Now'.
Later that year, she she co-starred in the film 'Game Show Models'.
A further collaboration album, with Jerry Butler, was released in 1978, entitled 'Two To One'.
At this time, a movie, entitled 'Me and Bessie' was being prepared by Motown, a film which featured Thelma playing the part of the singer Bessie Smith, however, this film never was brought to fruition.
ready to roll - 1978 / the devil in me - 1978
In 1978, Thelma released the album 'The Devil In Me', which contained the single 'I'm Here Again'.
A track from the movie soundtrack 'Thank God It's Friday', entitled 'Love Masterpiece' saw greater success that year.
Thelma then released the album 'Ready to Roll', also that year, which featured he hugely popular 'Saturday Night, Sunday Morning', which featured on many of the better Soul Radio Stations.
ride to the rainbow - 1979 / breakwater cat - 1980
The song was also released on the album 'Ride to the Rainbow', along with Thelma's takes on the Miracles song 'Love Machine' and the Syreeta / Stevie Wonder song 'Just a Little Piece Of You', after which Thelma departed the Motown label.
Thelma then signed to the RCA imprint releasing the album 'Breakwater Cat' (containing the song 'Suspicious Minds') in 1980, which saw her working with Jimmy Webb again.
Thelma released 5 singles for RCA, before relocating to MCA in 1983.
never gonna be another one - 1981 / thelma houston - 1983
She released the album 'Never Gonna Be Another One' in 1981 for RCA, which was followed by a self titled album in 1983.
qualifying heat - 1984 / throw you down - 1990
Then Thelma further re-established her career with 1984's MCA album 'Qualifying Heat', which contained the Glen Ballard produced dancer 'You Used To Hold Me So Tight', a track which pleased Soul and Dance fans alike, peaking at number 13 on the R&B charts.
In 1985, Thelma collaborated with B.B. King for the MCA single, 'My Lucille' b/w 'Keep It Light'.
During the Eighties, Thelma starred in several television shows, including 'Cagney & Lacey' 'Little Miss Perfect', and 'Simon & Simon' , also featuring in the movies 'And God Created Woman' and 'Into The Night'.
She also featured on the revue 'Motown Returns to the Apollo', where she performed 'What a Diff'rence a Day Makes' as Dinah Washington.
During this period, Thelma took a break from recording, briefly inputting her own take on Bill Withers 'Lean On Me' for the soundtrack, and penning 'Be Yourself' for Patti LaBelle, before returning on the Reprise imprint for 1990's album release, 'Throw You Down'.
The album was produced by Richard Perry, with the title song reaching number 5 on the U.S. dance charts.
Thelma recorded 5 singles for Reprise, before moving on to two smaller labels, namely Century and Dig-It International.
In 1994, Thelma participated in an AIDS benefit at New York’s Algonquin Hotel, performing gospel music with Phoebe Snow, Chaka Khan and CeCe Peniston under the name of 'Sisters of Glory'.
sisters of glory - 1995
The Sisters also recorded an album for the Warner Brothers label, entitled 'Good News in Hard Times'.
At the turn of the Millennium, Thelma toured Australia in the stage musical version of 'Fame'.
thelma houston - 1994 / a woman's touch - 2007
In 2007, Thelma released the album 'A Woman's Touch' for the Shout! Factory imprint, which featured cover versions of songs by various artists including Luther Vandross, Marvin Gaye, and Sting, and also released a track from the set as a single entitled 'Brand New Day'.
These days she often performs at Teatro ZinZanni in Seattle and San Francisco.
Sunshower (Dunhill Records 1969)
Thelma Houston (Mowest Records 1972)
I've Got The Music In Me (Sheffield Lab Records 1975)
Anyway You Like It (Tamla Records 1976)
with Jerry Butler: Thelma And Jerry (Motown Records 1977)
The Devil In Me (Tamla Records 1977)
with Jerry Butler: Two To One (Motown Records 1978)
Ready To Roll (Tamla Records 1978)
Ride To The Rainbow (Tamla Records 1979)
Breakwater Cat (RCA Records 1980)
Never Gonna Be Another One (RCA Records 1981)
Qualifying Heat (MCA Records 1984)
Throw You Down (Reprise Records 1990)
Thelma Houston (Fonit Cetra Records 1994)
with Sisters Of Glory: Good News In Hard Times (Warner Brothers Records 1995)
A Woman's Touch (Shout! Factory Records 2007)