Betty Wright | 45 Things You Didn’t Know About Betty Wright
In today’s article, we’ll be talking on things you didn’t know about Betty Wright so you’ll have a glimpse of ideas about the former musician. Betty Wright, whose real name is Bessie Reggina Norris, was an American soul and R&B singer, songwriter and background vocalist. Having been born on the 21st of December, 1953, she began her professional career in the late 1960s as a teenager and rose to fame in the 1970s. She really did some notable songs that circulated around the world before her death on the 10th of May, 2020. Now read further below to see everything you need to know about Betty Wright.
One thing you need to know about Betty Wright is that she switched musical styles from gospel to rhythm and blues, singing in local talent shows until she was spotted by a Miami record label owner, who signed her to her first label (Deep City Records) in 1966 when she was 12. She released the singles “Thank You Baby” and “Paralyzed”, which found Wright local fame in Miami. In 1967, the teen was responsible for discovering other local talents such as George and Gwen McCrae, helping them sign with the Alston Records label TK Records, part of Henry Stone‘s recording and distribution company. Her first album, My First Time Around, was released when she was age 14. Her first hit single was “Girls Can’t Do What the Guys Do”. In 1970, while still in high school, she released “Pure Love” at the age of 16. She had other prominent hits like “Clean Up Woman” and “Tonight Is the Night”.
All You Need to Know About Betty Wright
Let’s take a look at the specific things to know about Betty Wright, with respect to her personal life and career.
About the Early Life of Betty Wright
- Betty Wright was born in Miami, Florida, as Bessie Regina Norris on December 21, 1953, and was the youngest of seven children of Rosa Akins Braddy-Wright.
- Wright began her professional career at the age of two when her siblings formed the Echoes of Joy, a gospel group. Wright contributed to vocals on the group’s first album, released in 1956. Wright and her siblings performed together until 1965 when she was 11 years old.
- Following the group’s break-up, Wright, who was already using the name Betty Wright, decided to switch musical styles from gospel to rhythm and blues, singing in local talent shows until she was spotted by a Miami record label owner, who signed her to her first label (Deep City Records) in 1966 when she was 12. She released the singles “Thank You Baby” and “Paralyzed”, which found Wright local fame in Miami.
- Wright was married three times and had five children. In 1976, Wright married Jerome McCray and together they had a daughter. Wright and McCray divorced in 1981.
- Wright was married to Patrick Parker from 1982 until 1983 and together they had two children.
- Wright was married to Jamaican musician Noel Williams, better known as King Sporty, from 1985 until his death in 2015.
- Together Wright and Williams had two children. Her son Patrick Parker Jr. was killed on Christmas Day in 2005 in a shooting incident.
- Wright died from cancer, on May 10, 2020, at her home in Miami. She was 66, and news of her death was first announced by her niece.
Also read: 40 Things You Didn’t Know About Bryan Adams
About Her Career as a Singer
- Wright released her signature song “Clean Up Woman”, written by Clarence Reid and Willie Clarke, and recorded when she was 17. The record reached number two on the R&B charts, where it stayed for eight weeks. It crossed over to the pop charts, peaking at number six and staying on the Billboard Hot 100 for 14 weeks. It eventually sold over 1 million copies and was certified gold on December 30, 1971, nine days after the singer turned 18.
- Wright struggled with a successful follow-up until 1972 when the single “Baby Sitter” (one of Wright’s first compositions) reached the top 50 of the Hot 100 and peaked at number six on the R&B charts.
- Another hit that emerged during this early period was 1973’s “Let Me Be Your Lovemaker”, which peaked at number 55 on the Hot 100 and number 10 on the R&B chart, it was the first instance (after “Baby Sitter”) where Wright showed off her powerful whistle register vocals.
- Another successful composition was the proto-disco number “Where Is the Love” (co-written by Wright, with producers Harry Wayne Casey and Richard Finch, from KC & The Sunshine Band). This peaked at number 15 on the R&B chart, number-two on the dance charts and crossed over to the UK, peaking at #25, leading Wright to perform overseas. Wright later won the Best R&B Song Grammy Award for composing “Where Is the Love”.
- A second prominent overseas hit was another proto-disco number “Shoorah! Shoorah!”, issued on Alston and written by Allen Toussaint. Both songs appeared on one of Wright’s most popular albums, Danger! High Voltage! released in late 1974. It was on this album that Wright had her most successful composition, with the smooth soul ballad “Tonight Is the Night”, which Wright attributed to her first sexual experiences. The original version peaked at number 28 on the R&B chart.
- Four years later, Wright released a “live” version of the song. The remodeled version, which included a now-famous monologue and portions of Wright’s 1970, hit “Pure Love”.
- In 1977, Wright discovered musician Peter Brown and sang background on Brown’s hits “You Should Do It” and “Dance with Me” (where her vocals were prominently featured alongside Brown’s) from the successful LP “A Fantasy Love Affair”.
- In 1978, she performed a duet with shock rocker Alice Cooper on the song “No Tricks”, and a year later, opened for Bob Marley on the reggae star’s Survival Tour.
- By 1981, as TK began to struggle, she moved to a bigger label, signing with Epic, where her self-titled album was released. The album was notable for the minor Stevie Wonder-composed hit, “What Are You Gonna Do with It”.
- The same year, she contributed vocals on Richard “Dimples” Fields’ Dimples album, especially on the hit “She’s Got Papers on Me”.
- In 1983, she released the album Wright Back at You, which featured compositions by Marlon Jackson of the Jacksons.
- In 1985, Wright formed her own label, Miss B Records, issuing the album Sevens the following year.
- In 1988, Wright made history as the first black female artist to score a gold album on her own label, when her 1987 album, Mother Wit achieved that certification. The album was notable for the come-back hits “No Pain, No Gain,” which returned her to the top 20 on the R&B chart for the first time in a decade, and “After the Pain”.
- In 1990, she had a hit duet with Grayson Hugh on the remake of Champaign’s 1981 hit “How ‘Bout Us”, and later arranged the harmonies for Gloria Estefan’s “Coming Out of the Dark”, which hit number 1 in 1991.
- She continued to release solo material into the 1990s; her 1994 album B-Attitudes featured a remixed duet of Marvin Gaye‘s “Distant Lover”. She then self-released several more recordings while still performing successfully as a live act.
- In 2001, the compilation album The Very Best of Betty Wright was released, along with Fit for a King, her first studio album for several years.
- In 2006, Wright appeared on the TV show “Making the Band,” appointed by Sean Combs as a vocal coach for new female group Danity Kane. She mentored several young singers and did vocal production for such artists as Gloria Estefan, Jennifer Lopez, and Joss Stone.
- Along with co-producers Steve Greenberg and Michael Mangini, Wright was nominated for a 2005 Grammy Award in the Best Pop Album category for producing Joss Stone’s album Mind Body & Soul.
- In 2008, Wright was featured on a Lil Wayne track titled “Playing with Fire”. However, due to a lawsuit, the song was removed from the album online.
- Wright, Greenberg, and Mangini also produced two tracks on Tom Jones‘s 2008 album 24 Hours: a cover of Bruce Springsteen‘s “The Hitter” and “More Than Memories”, written by Stax legend Carla Thomas.
- The trio also produced the debut album by Diane Birch in 2009.
- In December 2010, Wright was given another Grammy Award nomination for the song “Go” on the Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance.
- On New Year’s Eve 2011, Wright appeared on the UK’s BBC Two television channel, on the Jools’s Annual Hootenanny show, backed by the Jools Holland Rhythm & Blue Orchestra.
- The album Betty Wright: The Movie, credited to Betty Wright and the Roots, produced by Wright and Ahmir Questlove Thompson was released November 15, 2011 on Ms. B Records/S-Curve Records.
- “Surrender”, a track from the album, was nominated for a 2011 Grammy in the Best Traditional R&B Performance category.
- She performed her singles “Clean Up Woman” and “Shoorah! Shoorah!” alongside “In the Middle of the Game (Don’t Change the Play)” from Betty Wright: The Movie.
- In 2017, Wright was honored with the National R&B Music Society Unsung Heroine Award at their Black Tie Gala & Awards Ceremony in Philadelphia, Pa. Paul Anthony and Bowlegged Lou of Full Force presented the award to her.
- Her last appearance was on the TV show Unsung on April 5, 2020, which was a month before her death.