A Mississippi native, Thelma Houston is a dedicated music creator and philanthropist who started out in the 1960s performing gospel music with the Art Reynolds Singers. In 1967, Houston signed to Capitol Records (home of the Beatles, Nat King Cole, and Nancy Wilson), and had her first hit song with “Baby Mine.” Houston released her first solo album, Sunshower, on ABC Dunhill in 1969, which was written and produced by the legendary Jimmy Webb.
After this critically acclaimed debut, Houston signed with Motown Records. Always a pathbreaker, at Motown, she claimed the top of the pop, R&B, and dance charts with her signature rendition of “Don’t Leave Me This Way.” This Gold Record classic gave Houston the distinction of being the first solo female artist at Motown to win the GRAMMY Award for “Best R&B Female Vocal Performance.”
In early 2020, Houston collaborated with Morrissey on “Bobby, Don’t You Think They Know.” Also released the same year was the dance single “Turn Your World Around” (Radikal Records) with Bimbo Jones. The song quickly rose on the Billboard Dance Charts to No. 7. As an artist who is always focused on creating, Houston teamed up once again with Jimmy Webb during the COVID-19 pandemic for the song called “Someone is Standing Outside.” Recent shows include CBS’s Motown 60: A GRAMMY Celebration. Houston’s performance brought down the house. She also recently performed on the BET special DJ Cassidy’s Pass the Mic. During Black History Month in February, she was honored by the 2022 City of Los Angeles African American Heritage Month Program as a Living Legend—which she truly is.
Throughout the year, with appearances from Tokyo to Las Vegas to London and beyond, Houston continues to captivate audiences with her exhilarating performances and warm anecdotes. She continues to inspire new generations of artists with her vocal mastery, wit, and spirit of collaboration.
Houston is known for her charitable causes and tireless efforts in the battle against AIDS. In 2003, the City of West Hollywood proclaimed January 29 as “Thelma Houston Day.” Houston has contributed her talents to numerous causes, including Divine Design for Project Angel Food, AIDS Project Los Angeles, and the Minority AIDS Project, to which she donated her $20,000 winnings from the TV show Hit Me Baby. She has been active with the NAACP and is a longtime supporter of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC).
Said Richard Ayoub, Executive Director, Project Angel Food, “We have been fortunate to benefit from Thelma’s support for many years and are truly grateful. It’s a testament to her artistry and ingenuity that she would create a way to bring us closer together during these troubled times and give.”