I remember “Black Box”‘s appearance on Soul Train in summer 1990. I watched Don Cornelius interview Black Box’s “singer”, Katrin Quinol, and wondered how someone who couldn’t speak a lick of English could sing it so effortlessly.
Turns out Katrin Quinol didn’t sing a damn syllable of “Everybody Everybody”, and had I been more musically savvy (and generally life-savvy) at that point, it would’ve been obvious to me. But I was 14, so cut me some slack.
The lead vocals on “Everybody Everybody” and most of Black Box’s debut (only?) album, Dreamland, were performed by powerhouse vocalist Martha Wash. Her voice was already somewhat familiar to me due to her stint as one of the members of Two Tons o’ Fun/The Weather Girls, but I didn’t make the connection then. Wash rightfully took legal action against the producers of Black Box (who were not Robert Clivilles & David Cole, who Wash also sued for using her voice duplicitously on recordings by C + C Music Factory and Seduction). There was a settlement reached, which went in Wash’s favor because come on now. Interestingly, the Wikipedia entry for “Everybody Everybody” states that Wash “initially requested Black Box not to mention or credit her name in the recording.” I am reasonably positive that’s false. Why would anyone do that?
Regardless of the legal drama, “Everybody Everybody” is a banger. It’s a great synthesis of commercial house and classic disco. The early ‘90s was a key period for dance-pop, and “Everybody Everybody” is in the upper echelon of hits from that period.