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Singer Betty Wright (“Tonight’s the Night”) has died at 66


Faulkner

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The greats are leaving us. Even though “Clean Up Woman” was a crossover hit, Betty Wright ranked alongside Frankie Beverly as “black famous.” Her songs provided a soundtrack to many a drive, barbecue, and summer evening.

 

This quoted thread by Naima Cochrane is a great deep dive into her music.

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Faulkner
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The tweet mentions 3? Who is the third? 

 

As a white suburban bitch I don't think I ever heard of her. I love that this board brings their memories of people I'm ignorant about to my attention. 

 

RIP in any regard.

Edited by Bright Eyes
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I am speechless and heartbroken! I did not know she was sick! I was so happy to watch her episode of UNSUNG a few weeks ago and see how happy and at peace she was regarding some of the drama in her life. She was still singing with her daughters, touring, dabbling in art as a hobby, and just having fun. I know the death of her son took is toll on her and the whole family, but they all seemed to be closer than ever. My heart breaks for her children having to lose her on Mothers' Day.

Like you said, despite not being very well-known out of the black community, Betty is truly a legend within it. Her music was more prominent in my childhood family gatherings than Aretha Franklin's, and when I want to be nostalgic and reminisce on days gone by, Betty (and Maze/Frankie) is where I go. There was just a raw, intimate truth in her hit songs - you either went through what she was singing about or you knew someone who was, and so you felt and understand every lyrics, every note (even when she went into the whistle register).

 

"Tonight is the niiiiight that you...make me a womannnn." Iconic. "Don't blame Mr. Charlie! Mr. Charlie is just a man, and he's doing the best he can!" Iconic! "There was an old lady sitting under tree. She called me over, and she said to me..." ICONIC!!!

I could sit here and share songs all day, but I'll start with one of my favorite live performances of Clean Up Woman from 2006.

 

Edited by All My Shadows
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Obviously, the "live" version of TONIGHT IS THE NIGHT is the one everyone knows, loves, and remembers, but I've fallen in love over the years with the original arrangement from 1974.


That same album had WHERE IS THE LOVE, which became a disco hit in 1975 and was produced by KC of KC and the Sunshine Band. Betty won the Grammy for Best R&B Song for co-writing it.


Her first Top 40 hit came in 1968 when she was only 15 years old.


The "live" version of Tonight is the Night includes a few bars from PURE LOVE, from the "I Love the Way You Love" album.


She was still under 20 years old when recording this song about being fed up with married lover.


I could go on and on with her 70s stuff, but here are two songs from her final two albums that I absolutely adore.

 

 

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20 minutes ago, All My Shadows said:

Like you said, despite not being very well-known out of the black community, Betty is truly a legend within it. Her music was more prominent in my childhood family gatherings than Aretha Franklin's, and when I want to be nostalgic and reminisce on days gone by, Betty (and Maze/Frankie) is where I go. There was just a raw, intimate truth in her hit songs - you either went through what she was singing about or you knew someone who was, and so you felt and understand every lyrics, every note (even when she went into the whistle register).

Totally. She was directly speaking (literally, in the intros to her songs) to/for her listeners with a lot of old I’ve been through this wisdom. And since you grew up in the South, you might have a deeper connection to her. On Sunday, after the R&B stations in Mississippi stopped playing gospel, the first secular song you’d often hear would be a Betty song, played in full. She was just an institution. I remember my friends getting in trouble with a particularly religious teacher in high school for loudly singing the “Unh unh, pure love“ part of “Tonight’s the Night.”  

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23 minutes ago, Faulkner said:

Totally. She was directly speaking (literally, in the intros to her songs) to/for her listeners with a lot of old I’ve been through this wisdom. And since you grew up in the South, you might have a deeper connection to her. On Sunday, after the R&B stations in Mississippi stopped playing gospel, the first secular song you’d often hear would be a Betty song, played in full. She was just an institution. I remember my friends getting in trouble with a particularly religious teacher in high school for loudly singing the “Unh unh, pure love“ part of “Tonight’s the Night.”  

That makes total sense, especially since once she took more control of her music in the mid-80s, there were more gospel overtones in her songs. Perfect segue from straight gospel into that classic, timeless R&B.

IDK why but "Pure Love" always makes me think of young Erica Kane

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"After the Pain" is probably the most personal Betty song for me. My mom lived that song until the day my dad passed away, and I know she still feels and believes every word of it now that he's gone. This comes from a video of a 1992 show she did in London. It's just classic Betty - the heart, emotion, conviction, realness, etc. but then engaging the audience with comedy and fun. I just love this woman so, so, so much, and I will miss her dearly. Gone way too soon but won't soon be forgotten!

 

The full 1992 London show is on YT, but here is the Clean Up Woman portion - it actually starts after she's already sung the song lol It's just Betty being hilarious and having fun and paying tribute to all of her friends in the industry.

"She might be shaped 38-22-38, but she can also be shaped FIFTY, FIFTY FIFTY or 12-12-12!"


Love the band just keeping the Clean Up Woman riff going for ten solid minutes.

Edited by All My Shadows
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I have to stay away from Twitter right now because too many people have tried to make Betty Wright's untimely death into "Oh thank god, I thought you meant Betty White," and I really, really don't need to be reminded of how ignorant and racist so many people in this world are on a day like today.

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19 minutes ago, All My Shadows said:

I have to stay away from Twitter right now because too many people have tried to make Betty Wright's untimely death into "Oh thank god, I thought you meant Betty White," and I really, really don't need to be reminded of how ignorant and racist so many people in this world are on a day like today.

People are such @ssholes. I knew that was going to happen because of the similarity of the names. But they didn’t need to be callous about it. Someone important to a lot of people still died, even if they didn’t personally who know who it was. What’s that quote? “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.”

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She put good messages about life in her music and there is a lot that can be learned from listening to it.  Betty also sang background for a lot of people including the Miami Sound Machine (she wrote the harmonies for Coming Out of the Dark by Gloria Estefan) so she had much versatility and knew music quite well.

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Betty Wright was WONDERFUL, and had so many great songs and collaborations. 

 

This is one of the best duets ever done, IMO.. should have been a huge hit. 

 

On 5/10/2020 at 4:59 PM, Faulkner said:

People are such @ssholes. I knew that was going to happen because of the similarity of the names. But they didn’t need to be callous about it. Someone important to a lot of people still died, even if they didn’t personally who know who it was. What’s that quote? “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.”

Good grief. When I was a child, I use to mix up Betty Wright and Jean Knight, because their names sounded so alike. 

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20 minutes ago, alphanguy74 said:

Betty Wright was WONDERFUL, and had so many great songs and collaborations. 

 

This is one of the best duets ever done, IMO.. should have been a huge hit. 

 

Good grief. When I was a child, I use to mix up Betty Wright and Jean Knight, because their names sounded so alike. 

It’s not that they confused the names. It was the reaction of “Betty White’s not dead? Phew! F*** that other b**** who I don’t know.”

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