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Betty Wright, Iconic Soul And R&B Singer, Passes At 66
Betty Wright. Credit: Peter Van Breukelen.

Betty Wright, Iconic Soul And R&B Singer, Passes At 66

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(CelebrityAccess) – Legendary soul and R&B singer Betty Wright, known for classics such as “Tonight Is the Night,” “No Pain, (No Gain),” “Clean Up Woman” and “Girls Can’t Do What the Guys Do,” has passed away at the age of 66.

Wright had been diagnosed with endometrial cancer in the fall, Steve Greenberg, president of S-Curve Records, told The New York Times. Her family confirmed to Essence that the singer died Sunday, with Billboard adding she passed at home in her native Miami.

Born Bessie Regina Norris in 1953, Wright grew up in a gospel-singing family. Her first solo album 1967’s My First Time Around was released when she was just 14 years old. The album, which combined elements of funk, soul and R&B, contained her first hit “Girls Can’t Do What the Guys Do.”

Throughout the 1970s, Wright released a series of hit singles including 1971’s “Clean Up Woman,” “Tonight Is the Night,” “Dance With Me,” and “Where Is the Love,” which earned her a Grammy for best R&B song in 1975.

In the 1980s, she founded her own record label, Ms. B Records, and released the gold-certified album Mother Wit, featuring the popular song “No Pain (No Gain).”

Wright enjoyed a career revival in 2003 when she co-produced Joss Stone’s The Soul Sessions (S-Curve Records), which was shortlisted for England’s Mercury Prize. In 2006 she was appointed a vocal coach by Sean “P Diddy” Combs on his television show Making the Band, and in 2011, she teamed up with The Roots for the collaborative album, Betty Wright: The Movie, which featured guest appearances by Lil Wayne and Snoop Dogg, among others.

As news of Wright’s death broke online over the weekend, tributes from across the industry poured in.

“Thank you for being a master teacher, a friend and one of the greatest female soul singers in our industry,” singer Ledisi said on Twitter. “You were so much more than your music. We were blessed to be around royalty.”

John Legend tweeted that Wright “was always so loving and giving to younger artists. Always engaged, always relevant,” while musician Sheila E. tweeted “She was an incredible woman. You will be missed queen.”


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