Martha High (born Martha Harvin in 1945, Victoria, Virginia[1]) is an American vocalist.

Martha High
Photo: Lasse Brown
Background information
BornVictoria, Virginia, U.S.
OriginWashington, D.C., U.S.
GenresSoul, R&B, funk



Harvin grew up in Washington, D.C., attending Roosevelt High School and singing in Trinity AME Zion Church. She began singing in The Four Jewels (whose members attended the same church and school) after the departure of Carrie Mingo. After Martha joined the group, they changed their name simply to The Jewels and released their best-known hit, "Opportunity". After a follow-up single, "But I Do" b/w "Smokey Joe", flopped, they were dropped from Dimension Records.

The Jewels went on tour with James Brown in 1964, with a demanding nightly schedule. They visited the studios of Motown Records on the Detroit leg of the tour, hoping to record, but the building was closed that day. They did record two singles while they toured with Brown, but after a year and a half with Brown the group split up. Not ready to leave the tour, Harvin asked Brown if she could stay. Brown agreed, but he required her name change from Harvin to the stage name High.[2] She continued singing with Brown for the next 30-plus years. Among her appearances with Brown are on the track "Summertime" and on the Original Funky Divas album.

High also recorded a self-titled disco album in 1979, released on Salsoul Records. In January 2000, she stopped performing with Brown and went on tour with Maceo Parker.

In 2004, High teamed up with the Soulpower organization, which is also behind the comebacks of Soul artists like Marva Whitney, Lyn Collins, Bobby Byrd, Gwen McCrae and RAMP. During her collaboration with Soulpower, High performed all across Europe and even performed in Africa, backed by the Soulpower Allstars. In February 2005, High embarked on the "James Brown's Funky Divas Tour" in Europe, sharing the stage with her friend Lyn Collins.

In 2016, High released her solo album on Blind Faith Records, with 11 original tunes produced and recorded by Italian soul man Luca Sapio and his crew.

In 2017, High recorded a single titled "We are one" with DJ Toner, released on Enlace Funk (Spain). Fred Thomas (The J.B.´s musician) also collaborated playing bass.[3]

In 2021, High recorded an album titled "Got My Senses Back" with Grey and the Hit Me Band, released on Only One Records with 9 tracks arranged, produced and recorded by Michael Edell.

Single discography

No. Song titles (Artist) Label and no. Release Format
1 "Georgy Girl" b/w "Try Me" People 611 1972 7"
2 "Take Me Higher And Groove Me" (James Brown)
b/w Summertime (Martha And James)
Polydor 14433 1977 7"
3 "Spank Georgia Disco" Parts 1&2 (as Martha And The Lazers) Polydor 14498 1978 7"
4 "He's My Ding Dong Man" b/w "Wallflower" Salsoul 2097 1979 7"
5 "Showdown" b/w "He's My Ding Dong Man" Salsoul 2110 1979 7"
6 "He's My Ding Dong Man" b/w "Wallflower" Salsoul 306 1979 12"
7 "Showdown" b/w "He's My Ding Dong Man" Salsoul 317 1979 12"
8 "The Big Payback" Diaspora Connections 2007 CD
9 "The Shakedown (Say Yeah)"
b/w "Dragging Me Down" (as Speedometer ft. Martha High)
Freestyle 7072 Feb. 2012 7"
10 "I'd Rather Go Blind" b/w "No More Heartaches"
(as Martha High & Speedometer)
Freestyle 7074 Sept. 2012 7"
11 "We are one" (as Martha High & DJ Toner) Enlace Funk EF-67 2017 7"


Album discography

  • High (Salsoul 8526) released 1979
  • Live at Quai Du Blues (Austerlitz Music 5978012) released 2003
  • W.O.M.A.N. by Martha High With Shaolin Temple Defenders (Soulbeats 004[CD]/005[LP]) released 2008
  • It's High Time (Diaspora Connections 90101) released 2009
  • Soul Overdue by Martha High & Speedometer (Freestyle FSRCD096[CD]/FSRLP096[LP]) released 2012
  • Singing For The Good Times by Martha High (Blind Faith Records BF01002 [CD]/[LP]) released 2016
  • Tribute To My Soul Sisters by Martha High (Rekord Kicks Records RKX 067 [CD]/[LP]) released 2017
  • Nothing's Going Wrong by Martha High & The Italian Royal Family, released 2020
  • Got My Senses Back by Martha High & Grey and the Hit Me Band (Only One Records [Digital]) released 2021

Other appearances

  • Presenting… The James Brown Show (LP by various artists, 1967) Smash 27087 (mono) & 67087 (stereo)

"This Is My Story" and "Something's Got A Hold On Me" by The Jewels

  • James Brown's Original Funky Divas (CD compilation, 1998) PolyGram 314 537 709-2

"This Is My Story" by The Jewels
"Summertime" by Martha And James

  • Love Over-Due (album by James Brown, 1991) Scotti Bros. 72392 75225-1

"Later For Dancing" (duet with James Brown)

  • Martha High (CD, 2014) on Octave-lav/Ultra-Vybe inc. 5067)
  • Reissue of Salsoul 8526 with 4 bonus-tracks


  1. ^ "Martha High Biography". Archived from the original on 2017-12-14.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  2. ^ Schmidt, Markus (August 8, 2014). "A lifetime with the Godfather of Soul". Richmond Times-Dispatch. Retrieved November 10, 2021.
  3. ^ a b "Martha High & DJ Toner". 15 February 2018.
  4. ^ "Martha High", Discogs.
  5. ^ "Jewels, The", Discogs.
  6. ^ "The Jewels - Discography", 45Cat.
  7. ^ "The Jewls", Soulful Kinda Music.