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Thelma Houston to usher disco fever

caines | 5/16/2013, 5:30 a.m.

Rare appearance to benefit the Broward Partnership for the Homeless Do you remember the glorious 70s when the fashion statements of the day included bell bottoms, platform shoes, hot pants, gold chains and afros? After putting together your best combination, you and the crew would head out to your favorite club, where disco balls twirled and strobe lights pulsed to the beat of scintillating divas: Donna Summer, Gloria Gaynor, Martha Wash and Anita [Ring My Bell] Ward. And then there was Thelma Houston whose Grammy-winning single, Dont Leave Me This Way, became a national anthem for Americans, young and old. Four decades of performing later, along with two children, four grandchildren and one great-grandchild, Houston, 67, continues to belt out the hits. And if you want to take a trip with her down memory lane, shell be in Ft. Lauderdale on Saturday, May 18 at GPG Studios [2780 NW 55th Court, Warehouse #4], where shell headline a fundraiser for the homeless. The Disco Ball: 14th Annual Salute to Leadership will benefit the Broward Partnership for the Homeless [BPH] an organization founded in 1999 that has assisted over 17,000 homeless residents since its inception. Besides Houstons concert, there will also be an awards program, a silent auction, a cocktail reception and dinner. Houston says shes excited about bringing her show to South Florida and helping to raise as much money as possible to help individuals and families in need.

Memories from a disco legend

I am still recording and singing sometimes corporate events, or private functions but then I recently did a show at the Georgia Dome for DirectTV so it all depends, she said. Music from the disco era is still popular people love to hear me or K.C. and the Sunshine Band and The Tramps. We didnt have all of the technical gadgets that artists have today but we did have a real camaraderie the musicians and the singers had a connection and once we got into a groove and we began to improvise, anything was possible. Did she know that her signature song would be such a big hit? Houston says she had a good feeling. The song was first recorded by Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes but when we decided to record it, we knew that we wanted it to be a dance song because disco was at its height and folks wanted something that would draw them to the dance floor, she said. Our version had all the elements and because I was at the club dancing almost every Thursday in New York City, I had an idea of what would excite people. But I had no idea that it would cross over to R&B and pop. And I certainly didnt expect to get a Grammy. Houston has come a long way from Leland, Mississippi, where she was born. She has traveled the world, shared the stage with phenomenal singers like Mavis Staples, CeCe Peniston, Donna Summer, Phoebe Snow and Chaka Khan and she continues to record. I am very satisfied with my life and I am still growing, she added. I continue to be creative, I exercise every day and I try to take care of others and treat them like I want to be treated. And I tell folks that are my age that when theyre ready to retire, make sure they have another job. I dont plan to stop going anytime soon. Look for more about BPH and its contributions to the homeless of Broward County in upcoming editions of The Miami Times. By D. Kevin McNeirkmcneir@miamitimesonline.com