Betty Wright death: Grammy-winning soul singer dies from cancer aged 66

‘Tonight Is the Night’ singer left an indelible mark on R&B music

Louis Chilton
Monday 11 May 2020 07:56
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Betty Wright sings on Jools' Annual Hootenanny in 2012

Betty Wright, the soul singer behind such hits as “Clean Up Woman” and “Tonight Is the Night”, has died at the age of 66.

Billboard confirmed that Wright passed away in her Miami home on Sunday 10 May following a battle with cancer.

Wright began her singing career as part of her family’s gospel group, The Echoes of Joy, putting out her first solo album, My First Time Around, in 1968, at the age of just 14.

After a string of hits in the 1970s – including “Where Is the Love”, for which she earned a Grammy for best R&B song – Wright went on to found her own record label, which she called Ms B Records.

Wright was known for being able to sing in the “whistle register”, the highest register of the human voice. Later in her career, she served as a vocal coach on the hit US TV show Making the Band.​

Throughout her life, Wright also worked as a studio singer, and provided backing vocals for dozens of artists including Stevie Wonder, David Byrne and Clarence Clemons. In 2016, Wright featured on DJ Khaled’s “Holy Key”, alongside Kendrick Lamar and Big Sean.

Tributes to the singer and songwriter have poured in following the news of her death.

John Legend wrote on Twitter: “I loved being around Ms Betty Wright. She was always so loving and giving to younger artists. Always engaged, always relevant. She will be missed.”

Snoop Dogg wrote on Instagram: “Thank u for bringing me to thankful Thursday’s at your house in Florida years ago for the fellowship mentoring and prayers and blessings u shared with me I know god is pleased with your work.”

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