Thelma Houston (born May 7, 1946) is an American singer and actress. She scored a number-one hit in 1977 with her recording of “Don’t Leave Me This Way”, which won the Grammy for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance.
In 2000, Houston toured successfully throughout Australia in the stage musical version of Fame. In 2002 she again guested on a Scott Henderson album, providing lead vocals for two of the tracks on Well to the Bone. Upon returning to the U.S. Houston toured with Nile Rodgers and Chic, and was among the opening acts of the originally intended finale of Cher’s Farewell Tour in Toronto on October 31, 2003. Houston regularly performs at Teatro ZinZanni in Seattle and San Francisco.
Her version of “Don’t Leave Me This Way” continues to be popular today. In recent years she has been invited to sing this song on dozens of TV shows and specials including NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s Motown 45 and The Disco Ball…A 30-Year Celebration, and PBS’ specials American Soundtrack: Rhythm, Love and Soul, Soul Superstars, and Old School Superstars. “Don’t Leave Me This Way” was mentioned by VH1 as being among the greatest dance songs in 2000, and was ranked number eighty-six on the channel’s countdown of The 100 Greatest One-Hit Wonders. She won an episode of the NBC show Hit Me, Baby, One More Time with her renditions of her own hit and “Fallin'” by Alicia Keys. On September 20, 2004, Houston’s rendition of “Don’t Leave Me This Way” was inducted into the Dance Music Hall of Fame in New York City.
On August 14, 2007, Houston released her first studio album in seventeen years, A Woman’s Touch. The album was produced by Peitor Angell and features cover versions of songs by male artists such as Luther Vandross, Marvin Gaye, and Sting that Houston had been inspired by. The first single from the album was “Brand New Day”. On August 20, 2007, Houston’s 1984 album Qualifying Heat was reissued as an import title in the U.S. with a bonus track.
She sang “Don’t Leave Me This Way” on American Idol on April 22, 2009, and on America’s Got Talent on September 16, 2009.
On July 29, 2013, a collaboration between Thelma and Los Angeles-based producer Janitor, entitled “Enemy”, premiered on SoundCloud. Several tracks followed, culminating in the release of an EP, “Forty-Two”, in September. This is the first new material from Thelma Houston in six years.
On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed Thelma Houston among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire.
She is featured on British singer songwriter Morrissey’s new single “Bobby Don’t you Think They Know”, released on streaming platforms on 10th January 2020 from his album I Am Not a Dog on a Chain.