Thelma Houston, “Piano Man”

Before Thelma Houston became a household name in 1977 with her hit disco single “Don’t Leave Me This Way,” she had been through the wringer for a decade, signing to a handful of labels yet having no success. In the early 1970s, she signed to Motown offshoot MoWest, who released her self-titled sophomore album in 1972. Though the label was short-lived, and she did not have much success, it did begin a successful relationship with the parent company. In spite of not reaching an audience, the music she released was high quality, as witnessed by single “Piano Man” a jaunty Ragtime/Broadway musical–style number that doesn’t sound much like Motown, but highlights her powerful singing voice and a playful, devil-may-care attitude as well as definite self-confidence. In other words, it’s just a fantastic pop number.



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