Bessie Regina Norris was born in 1953 in Florida and became very early one of the most powerful women in the music business. Her stories are book fillers and each of them will give you goosebumps!
Her career started as a teenager but there she already has been on stage with her siblings’ gospel group “Echoes Of Joy” and contributed her background vocals on their first album in 1956.
After the break up she decided to switch 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. First single, first locally success and she already spotted other talented artists such as George & Gwen McCrae. First album with 14, first hit single “Girls Can’t Do What The Guys Do” with 15.
Almost 17 she recorded her all time hit “Clean Up Woman” written by Clarence Reid (Blowfly!) and Willie Clarke. How crazy this is! It became number two on the R&B charts and stayed there for eight weeks!
It even crossed over to the pop charts and stayed there for 14 weeks with No 6 on the peak.
At 18 she became gold for over 1 million sold copies.
The follow up was a great catalog of music and productions plus her own compositions with real good success but less then the start has brought. Her powerful whistle register vocals became famous and her songs reached the top of the charts.
In the 80s she formed her own label, Miss B Records and 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.
In the 2000s 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 produced music for Joss Stone, Tom Jones and Diane Birch. Together with Questlove from The Roots, she produced the music for the movie Betty Wright.
In 2017, Wright was honored with the National R&B Music Society Unsung Heroine Award. Her last appearance was on the TV show Unsung on April 5, 2020, which was a month before her death.
Betty Wright died from cancer on May 10th, 2020.