The singer, who collaborated with James Brown and Bob Marley, was only 66 years old
Betty Wright (1953-2020), pseudonym for Bessie Norris, iconic voice of soul, funk and R&B, died this Sunday at the age of 66 from cancer at her Miami home. The singer was one of the heroines of Mary J. Blige or Beyoncé, who used some of her hits as samples for her songs. Her great vocal power attracted James Brown who, after the family’s initial rejection, managed to hire her and take her on tour.
Wright’s career started very early. As a child she sang gospel with The Echoes of Joy, her family group, and in 1967 she released her first album at just 14 years old, My first time around, which contained the hit Girls can’t do what the guys do. During the 1970s, she was confirmed as a superstar, thanks to hits like Clean up woman, and became the first woman to earn a Gold Record with her own label, Ms. B Records, for No pain, no gain. He also won a Grammy for Best R&B Song in 1975 for Where is the love.
In addition to James Brown, Bob Marley also collaborated with her. Wright supported him during a tour in 1979 and worked on an album of posthumous reworkings of his songs in 1999. Subsequently, he sang with Damian Marley and rapper Nas on the album Distant Relatives (2010).
Wright married three times, the last time to reggae musician King Sporty, and had four children. The family published a statement on Sunday: “Our dear mother, grandmother, sister, godmother, mentor, friend and icon of music, is already with the Lord.”