Betty Wright (born December 21, 1953)) (not to be mistaken for the late wife of famed gospel singer, the late Rev. Timothy Wright) is a Miami-based soul and R&B singer, who influenced a generation of female singer-songwriters and has also influenced the world of hip hop, which has sampled some of her more famous material.
From singing gospel with the family group, the Echoes of Joy, Wright began switching to R&B music in 1965 when she was only eleven years old. In 1967, she discovered singers George and Gwen McCrae, and helped them sign to Henry Stone's Alston record label. In 1968, she released her first album, My First Time Around, at the age of 15, and scored her first hit single, "Girls Can't Do What Guys Can Do". on Alston, part of Stone's TK studio and record company in Florida. But it was not until the end of 1971 that the most successful phase of her career took place.
The song, "Clean Up Woman", became a major pop and R&B hit, remaining at #2 for eight weeks on the R&B chart and reaching #6 on the pop listing. "Clean Up Woman" was written by Steve Alaimo and stayed for 14 weeks in the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It sold over a million copies with the R.I.A.A. gold disc award on 30 December 1971. and would later influence a remix of Mary J. Blige's "Real Love" single with the sample of its guitar riffs; R&B girl trio SWV's "I'm So Into You" also featured a sample from "Clean Up Woman," as did Afrika Bambaataa's song "Zulu War Chant", and Sublime's "Get Out!" remix. Beyonc? has sampled "Girls Can't Do What The Guys Do" for her hit "Upgrade U".
In 1978, Wright scored with a re-worked live version of a song she had written with producer Willie Clarke, "Tonight is the Night" (about a real-life love affair that happened with Wright when she was a teenager). The original version had done reasonably well three years earlier but the new, much longer version climbed to #11 R&B. This was later sampled by both Candyman for his one-hit wonder "Knockin' Boots" and Sheek Louch's single, "Good Love" . Another single, "Where is the Love" which was written and Produced by Harry Wayne Casey aka( KC & The Sunshine Band), Richard Finch, Willie Clarke, and Betty Wright won her a Grammy for Best R&B Song in 1975.
In 1978, Wright sang a duet, "No Tricks", with Alice Cooper. In late 1979, she appeared as a special guest on most Survival Tour concerts of reggae superstar Bob Marley.
After experiencing a brief slump in the early 1980s, she rebounded to set up her own record label, Ms. B Records, and in 1988 made music history by being the first woman to have a gold record on her own label, with the release of Mother Wit, which featured two of her biggest hits in years, "No Pain No Gain" and "After The Pain." On both songs, Wright displays her upper register capabilities and her ability to sing in the seventh octave. Wright also charted in a 1990 duet with Grayson Hugh on a remake of the 1981 Champaign hit "How 'Bout Us", and sang on fellow Miami vocalist Gloria Estefan's 1991 chart-topper "Coming Out of the Dark."
When R&B group Color Me Badd released their hit, "I Wanna Sex You Up", in 1991, it generated controversy because the sample from "Tonight is The Night" had not been cleared; Wright soon took the band to court for royalties and was awarded 35% percent of royalties for writing the song. DJ Quik used a sample of "Tonight is The Night" on his first single " Tonite".
Her cover of the song, "Shoorah! Shoorah!", which she recorded in 1974, was used in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy movie. The song, which was written by Allen Toussaint and first recorded by Frankie Miller, also appears on the soundtrack to the second series of the UK Channel 4 comedy drama, No Angels.
In 2001, a compilation album, The Very Best of Betty Wright, was released, along with her first studio album for several years, Fit for a King.. In 2002, the underground Hip-Hop artist RJD2 used a sample from Wright's song "Secretary" in his most commercially successful track, "Ghostwriter". "Ghostwriter" has since gone on to be used in multiple advertisements and commercials.
On 24 December 2005, her 21-year-old son Patrick Parker was shot and killed after a dispute at a Christmas party in Opa-locka, a Miami suburb.
In 2006, Wright appeared on the TV show Making the Band as vocal coach appointed by Sean Combs, for new female group Danity Kane. She now mentors several young singers and has done vocal production for the likes of Gloria Estefan, Jennifer Lopez and Joss Stone. Wright currently resides in her hometown of Miami.