Thelma Houston had been recording since the mid-'60s, but despite tremendous acclaim, she wasn't able to land a hit until "Don't Leave Me This Way." Her first album, Sunshower
, was produced by Jimmy Webb but went nowhere. She bounced around between labels and producers, and in 1974 earned a Grammy nomination for her song "You've Been Doing Wrong for So Long" (Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female). She recorded the original version of "Do You Know Where You're Going To
," but her version wasn't released as the song went to Diana Ross for her movie Mahogany
Houston finally found the right chemistry on her 1976 album Any Way You Like It
. Producer Hal Davis had recorded "Love Hangover
," a disco hit for Diana Ross, and used that template in turning "Don't Leave Me This Way" into a dance track. Davis recorded Houston in the same studio he recorded Ross (Paramount in Los Angeles), using many of the same musicians (including James Gadson on drums and Henry Davis on bass). Key to the sound was the guitar by Art Wright, who also did the arrangement.
Houston never again got higher than #34 in the US, which is where her song "Saturday Night, Sunday Morning" landed in 1979.