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TWO TONS O’ TALENT

San Francisco’s Martha Wash and Izora Rhodes first rose to fame in 1977 as Two Tons O’ Fun, background singers of choice for drag-tastic disco diva and ’70’s icon Sylvester. The plus-size gospel shouters — paired with the eccentric, electric Sylvester — were one of the most distinctive acts of the disco era. The ladies were hot and Sylvester was flaming. Sylvester is quoted in his album liner notes as saying “These girls can sing, y’all,” and indeed they could.

Martha and Izora appeared on numerous Sylvester albums including Living Proof, Do You Wanna Funk and Too Hot To Sleep. They can be heard wailing on many of Sylvester’s ’70s dance classics, including the infamous “(You Make Me Feel) Mighty Real” and “Dance (Disco Heat).” Everything about them was big: their voices, their determination, their hairdos, and most of all, their talent. This made for a thrilling dance/soul combination. When the ’70’s came to a rousing close, the girls were busting out to go solo.

TWO TONS O’ FUN

As the ’80’s emerged, so did Two Tons O’ Fun’s solo career. In 1980 the group released their self-titled debut album for the Fantasy label. They were smart enough to bring Sylvester’s producer Harvey Fuqua along for the ride. Now a much sought-after fan favorite, the album contains several underrated dance/soul confections.

There was a heavy dose of gospel wrapped up in their powerful sound. Martha could raise her voice to the heavens and beyond, while Izora could make the earth rumble with her deep, gritty growl. The album spun off two huge club hits, including “Earth Can Be Just Like Heaven” which promptly went to #2 on the dance charts. Martha and Izora had established themselves as a vocal force like no other.