Patti LaBelle, Chaka Khan, Kelly Rowland and more shared heartfelt dedications after learning of the death of Betty Wright. The music icon, known for classics like “Clean Up Woman,” “Tonight Is The Night” and “No Pain, No Gain,” passed away from cancer on Sunday (May 10). She was 66.
Prior to Wright’s death, Khan took to Twitter urging fans to pray for her longtime friend. Her passing bookended a tragic weekend that saw the deaths of fellow music giants, Andre Harrell and Little Richard.
The youngest of seven children, Wright was born in Miami on December 21, 1953. As a toddler, Wright began singing with Echoes of Joy, a gospel group founded by her older siblings. The group released their debut album in 1956, and Wright continued performing with her siblings until she was 11.
After the group split, Wright crossed over from gospel to R&B and began performing at local talent shows. Wright signed her first record label deal at 12 years old and released the singles, “Thank You Baby” and Paralyzed.” Wright’s debut, My First Time Around, was released when she was 14 years old. The album produced the singles “Girls Can’t Do What the Guys Do,” and “Pure Love.”
At age 17, Wright unveiled what became her signature single, “Clean Up Woman.” The single sold over 1 million copies. By 1972, Wright landed in the Billboard Hot 100’s Top 50 with the single “Baby Sitter.” Her disco single, “Where is the Love,” peaked in the Top 20 on the R&B charts and won a Grammy for Best R&B Song. In 1974, Wright released the album, Danger! High Voltage!, which featured the sultry single “Tonight is the Night.” A few years later, Wright recorded a live version of the song that peaked at No. 11 on the R&B charts. In the late ’80s, Wright became the first Black female recording artist to release a gold album on her own record label. She went on to debut the single, “No Pain, No Gain,” which marked her first Top 20 R&B hit in a decade.
During the ’90s, Wright scored another hit with “How About Us,” and contributed to Gloria Estefan’s No. 1 single “Coming Out of the Dark.” She was also nominated for a Grammy for producing Josh Stone’s Mind Body & Soul album, and collaborated with Lil Wayne on a 2008 track that was later shelved. Wright’s also produced more than a dozen albums in her career including 2014’s Living Loves Lies.
Read dedications to Wright below.
#BettyWright was one of the very best to ever do this thing called music! A beautiful spirit who will truly be missed! Sending my love and prayers to all of her family, friends and fans! ♥️ pic.twitter.com/fdy0qnixqj
— Patti LaBelle (@MsPattiPatti) May 11, 2020
Thank you for being a master teacher, a friend and one of the greatest female soul singers in our industry. You were so much more than your music. We were blessed to be around royalty. Thank you. I will never forget. #BettyWright ! pic.twitter.com/CHQL1S5FRy
— ledisi (@ledisi) May 10, 2020
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 https://t.co/JGefXj5jgx
— John Legend (@johnlegend) May 10, 2020
R.I.P. BETTY WRIGHT…
In Texas, You’re A Staple In The Black Family Household…
All Of Your Hits Are Memorized…One Of The Definitions Of A CLASSIC!!!
SALUTE TO The “CLEAN UP WOMAN” pic.twitter.com/IyVDTuANqw
— DJ Premier (@REALDJPREMIER) May 10, 2020