Soul Singer Betty Wright Dead at 66

Grammy-award winning singer, Betty Wright has died at the age of 66.

The R&B and soul singer behind the hits “Clean Up Woman,” “Tonight Is the Night” and “Girls Can’t Do What the Guys Do died from cancer.

Wright real name as Bessie Regina Norris death was confirmed by Steve Greenberg of S-Curve Records, who said Ms. Wright had been diagnosed with cancer in the fall and underwent chemotherapy.

Wright’s family also confirmed to Essence that the singer died Sunday, with Billboard adding that Wright died from cancer in her native Miami. On May 2nd, Chaka Khan tweeted that Wright was “in need of all your [prayers].”

She was born Bessie Regina Norris, Wright adopted her stage name when she was just a kid. With her siblings, she began singing in a gospel group, called the Echoes of Joy, at just two years old. They released an album in 1956, when she was three.

Wright earned a top 10 single in 1972 with “Clean Up Woman,” which peaked at No. 6 on the Hot 100, and would go on to be sampled by numerous artists, including Mary J. Blige, Afrika Bambaataa and Sublime. By the mid-’70s, Wright had scored big with songs “Tonight Is the Night” and “Where Is the Love,” which earned her a Grammy for for best R&B song in 1975.

In 2011, Ms. Wright teamed with the Philadelphia hip-hop group the Roots for an album called “Betty Wright: The Movie,” which included guest appearances by Snoop Dogg and Lil Wayne.

Wright’s breakthrough came with her single “Clean Up Woman” from her second album, “I Love the Way You Love,” released in 1971. The song reached No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, sold more than a million copies and came in as the No. 49 song of 1972, according to Billboard.

Ms. Wright had an enduring career as a songwriter, arranger and producer. She worked with, among others, Stevie Wonder, Stephen Stills, David Byrne, Alice Cooper, Jennifer Lopez, Erykah Badu, Bob Marley, Gloria Estefan and Miami Sound Machine, Keyshia Cole, P. Diddy, Kelly Clarkson and Nas.

Wright’s music also laid the foundation for future hits by other artists: Her “Clean Up Woman” was sampled by artists like Chance the Rapper (“Favorite Song”), Mary J. Blige (her 1993 “Real Love” remix with Notorious B.I.G.) and SWV (“I’m So Into You”), and Beyoncé’s 2006 song “Upgrade U” sampled Wright’s “Girls Can’t Do What the Guys Do.”


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