Betty Wright: Legend of Soul

Credit: Discogs

Betty Wright, born Bessie Regina Norris, is a black American soul and R&B singer, songwriter and producer whose impact in musical has been global and across generations of soul.

If you recognize that iconic guitar riffs that introduces Mary J Blige’s “Real Love,” the opening of Beyonce’s “Upgrade U” or Color Me Badd’s “I Wanna Sex You Up,” then you already understand the impact of Betty Wright and her body of work.

But also you might already be in love with her work as a Grammy-winning artist. Or as a Grammy-nominated producer behind the sound of Joss Stone’s sophomore album which includes the hit, “Fell in Love with a Boy.”

At the age of 3 Betty Wright began singing in her family gospel group, the Echoes of Joy, before switching over to R&B as a teen. Wright’s most notable success as a solo artist occurred throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Two of her biggest hits were released when she was 15 (“Girls Can’t Do What Guys Do”) and 18 (“Clean Up Woman”). In 1988 she made history as the first woman to have a gold record on her own label, Ms. B Records, with songs “No Pain No Gain” and “After The Pain.”

Since then, Wright has worked with Kelly Clarkson, Joss Stone, Diddy, Keyshia Cole, Angie Stone, Erykah Badu, Jennifer Lopez and Lil Wayne. Wright was brought in as a mentor for Danity Kane on Diddy’s Making the Band. Wright’s most recent project, “Betty Wright: The Movie,” was a collaboration with The Roots.

The legacy of Wright in hip-hop, R&B, soul and popular music has spanned decades and generations of listeners — though most in this generation don’t realize the strong soul influence and success of artists like Adele, Duffy, Amy Winehouse and Sam Smith can be traced back to hyphenate talents such as Ms Betty Wright.

Her work as an artist has been sampled in over 100 tracks including:

  • Clean Up Woman” is sampled on: “Favorite Song” by Chance the Rapper feat Childish Gambino (2013), “I’m So Into You” by SWV (1992) and “Real Love” by Mary J Blige (1992).
  • Girls Can’t Do What the Guys Do” is sampled on: “Upgrade U” by Beyonce feat Jay Z (2006).
  • Tonight Is the Night” is sampled on: “If I Die 2Nite” by 2Pac (1995), “I Wanna Sex You Up” by Color Me Badd (1991), “Knockin’ Boots” by Candyman (1990), “Good Love” by Sheek Louch (2008), “Down With the Clique” by Aaliyah (1994) and “Lovin’ You (Easy)” by En Vogue (2002).

Sources: All Music,, and Wikipedia.