Soul singer Betty Wright dies at 66
Legendary soul and R&B singer Betty Wright died on Sunday after a battle with cancer. She was 66.
Wright's niece confirmed the news to multiple media outlets.
The news comes a week after Chaka Khan posted a tweet asking for prayer warriors to lift up her "beloved sister," without mentioning what ailed her.
"Calling all my #PrayWarriors | My beloved sister, Betty Wright, is now in need of all your prays. “Que Sera, Sera | Whatever Will Be, Will Be” In Jesus Name We Pray for Sister Betty All My Love Chaka."
Wright, born Bessie Regina Norris, was a Miami native who rose to fame in the 1970s but she started singing years earlier as part of her siblings' musical group the Echoes of Joy. She was a member of the gospel ensemble until they split up when she was 11, leading her to embrace R&B music. Wright signed to Deep City Records in 1966, a year later becoming a local hit with songs "Thank You Baby" and "Paralyzed." Her first album My First Time Around wasn't released until two years later featuring the hit "Girls Can't Do What the Guys Do."
It would be another year before the biggest hit of her career "Clean Up Woman," which was certified gold just days after her 18th birthday. Three years later, Wright earned her first Grammy Award for Best Song, "Where is the Love?"
She continued writing and producing music for two decades, her final hit “No Pain, (No Gain)” was released in 1988. Wright also worked with other big talent in the industry including fellow Miami superstar Gloria Estefan — for who she arranged the harmonies for on "Coming Out of the Dark"— as well as Jennifer Lopez, Kelly Clarkson, and Joss Stone.
Younger generations learned from Wright on 2006's Making of the Band where she served as the vocal coach of Danity Kane.
The spotlight found Wright again in a big way in 2011 thanks to her collaboration with The Roots titled Betty Wright: The Movie, her first album in a decade. The track "Surrender" from the album scored a Grammy nomination for the celebrated singer in 2011.
Her work has been sampled throughout the years by Beyoncé, Mary J. Blige, Afrika Bambaataa, and Chance the Rapper.
Wright was married three times, her final marriage was to reggae legend Noel “King Sporty” Williams from 1985 until his death in 2015. She had five children: Aisha McCray, Patrice Parker, Patrick Parker, Patrice Parker, and Chaka Azuri. Her son Patrick was shot to death on Christmas Day in 2005 when he was 21-years-old.