Thelma Houston has been an icon of the LGBTQ community for so long, when she started out, then called herself the âgay communityâ. Her last concert in Salt Lake City was in 2013 – headlining the Utah Pride Festival. She is back to show her unconditional love this month.
Houston was the first Motown woman to win a Grammy when she went public with the 1977 disco gem “Don’t Leave Me This Way.”
In her early days, she worked with Stevie Wonder, Patty Labelle, Smokey Robinson, Chaka Khan, Mavis Staples, and Lenny Kravitz. She pays a nasty tribute to her late friend Aretha Frankl. Most recently, she worked with dance music producer Bimbo Jones, with a song âTurn the World Aroundâ that sounds as current as anything you’d hear in a club today.
She has performed all over the world in Pride Parades and for the Pope in Rome.
Openly gay singer / songwriter Jimmy Sommerville’s career as part of The Communards was kicked off with a cover of “Don’t Leave Me This Way”.
âI’m going to tell you a funny story about it with Jimmy Sommerville,â Houston told Instinct Magazine writer Jeremy Hinks. âWe were both working in Europe, and it was my night off, and I went to his show, and his manager knew I was there, so he gave me a mic so that when Jimmy started. singing “Don’t Leave Me This Way” I started singing it with him as I went on stage. And he just freaked out, it was so much fun, and he had NO idea I was even there, so it was a huge surprise for him. It was so funny, he was so graceful. Another time we were both doing pride in New York, and you know the pride parade in New York is huge. And I was on a chariot, singing “Don’t Leave Me This Way”, and then later miles down, he was singing “Don’t Leave Me This Way” too. So it was fun, and once again, the circle has come full circle. “
âI have worked or supported the LGBTQ + community for many years because they support me. Because when my song came out, âDon’t Leave Me This Way,â it got a lot of support from the community, âHouston told ThePride in Los Angeles.
Houston has fond memories of her first performance at the Utah Pride Festival.
âI’ve been on the Gay Pride parades since the very beginning, when there were maybe two or three cars going down Santa Monica Boulevard. And, I was doing the Pride Festival in Salt Lake City on the City Hall grounds, and there’s more family-style celebration in Utah. I saw how much it changed for people, and how people changed their hearts. I think one day soon it will be just “People”. This is my hope.
Most recently, Houston was featured on Morrissey’s single âBobby, Don’t You Think They Know?â, Released on streaming platforms from his album. I’m not a dog in chains.
In September of this year, Houston was headlining the first Chicago suburban Pride Fest, Naper, Ilinois. She was also the headliner for Aunt Rita’s AIDS Foundation Gala in Phoenix.
Today, Houston returned to its Motown roots with a new band show titled: “Thelma Houston’s Motown Experience,” featuring classic non-stop Motown songs and a tribute to her friend, the “Queen of Soul. Aretha Franklin.
This month, she returns to Salt Lake City on Loud + Queer: The Ballroom with Thelma Houston at Soundwell SLC on Saturday, October 9 to benefit the Utah Pride Center and to kick off the National Coming Out Day Road Rally.
The show will also include Marrlo Suzzanne & The Galaxy Band, singer / songwriter Lyle Anthony, Jason CoZmo, BYU guest speaker Matt Easton, and host Gia Bianca Stephens.
For more information on the show and for tickets, visit loudandqueer.org/tickets