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Thelma Houston comes to the aid of struggling AIDS charity
Grammy-winning artist best known for gay dance smash ‘Don’t Leave Me This Way’

by Stephen Diva

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — She’s Whitney’s aunt and Dionne Warwicke’s cousin. She’s also a legendary Grammy Award-winning diva who brought us the smash club hit “Don’t Leave Me This Way.”

A long-time supporter of the LGBT community and well-known for her tireless efforts in the battle against AIDS, Thelma Houston was once again a big winner on NBC’s hit summer show, “Hit Me Baby One More Time,” with two hot performances — one, her world-renowned single and the other, a smoking rendition of the Alicia Keys smash, “Fallin.’”

Houston has performed consistently since breaking onto the music scene in the late 1970s. She appeared on NBC’s new reality music competition, which is an adaptation of a British TV favorite (showcasing beloved performers of past big hits) on June 23, and was voted the audience’s favorite.

The win netted Houston a $20,000 donation in her name to the charity of her choice: The Minority AIDS Project of Los Angeles (MAPLA). Recently the topic of a feature in the Los Angeles Times because of financial woes that were threatening to close them down, MAPLA just happened to be uppermost in Houston’s mind because she had read the Times piece.

Founded in 1985 as the first AIDS group in the United States to focus on African-Americans, MAPLA is headed by the Reverend Carl Bean. 

“Ms. Houston exemplifies love, and that love is really unconditional,” says Bean. “She’s able to offer herself to the disenfranchised, those who are invisible to many others in our society.” There’s no disputing the fact that Houston has long been known as a humanitarian for her ongoing support of the LGBT community and her tireless efforts in the battle against AIDS. In 2003 the city of West Hollywood even proclaimed Wednesday, Jan. 29, as “Thelma Houston Day.”

Houston has generated 15 albums throughout her illustrious career. She also holds the distinction of being Motown Records’ first solo female artist to win the coveted Grammy Award for “Best R&B Female Vocal Performance.” Her classic gold song, “Don’t Leave Me This Way,” has become one of the defining songs of the disco era, and most recently enjoyed a new life on the “Miss Congeniality 2” movie soundtrack.

Also an accomplished actress, Houston has appeared in many movies, such as Oprah Winfrey’s “Beloved,” “And God Created Woman” and has just landed a role in an upcoming new comedy called “Dirty Laundry.”

Currently in the studio recording an album of classic ballads, also on the backburner is possibly a jazz and gospel album, to remind listeners of her musical roots and diversity. Now 59, Houston shows no sign of slowing down. “I appreciate my career, and sometimes it really feels like I’m just getting started,” she says.


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