Singer Betty Wright proved to be a consistently strong presence on the Miami music scene, primarily in the '70s and '80s, although she continued to record through the 2010s.
Born on December 21, 1953, in Miami, Florida, Wright began her singing career early on as a member of her family's gospel group, the Echoes of Joy. By the age of 13, she had begun appearing on other artists' recordings as a backup singer and, shortly thereafter, began her solo career. In 1968, she scored a a Top 40 with "Girls Can't Do What the Guys Do" and released her debut album, My First Time Around. It would be several years, however, before Wright would enjoy her next substantial hit; "Clean Up Woman," notable for its prominent guitar riff and Wright's swaggering lead vocal, peaked at number two on the R&B and number six on the pop charts in 1972. Two years later, Wright received a Grammy Award for the song "Where Is the Love?" (not to be confused with the renowned Roberta Flack/Donny Hathaway tune of the same name). Wright steadily issued albums throughout the decade, including such standout titles as 1975's Danger High Voltage (which spawned three R&B hits) and 1978's Betty Wright Live. A 1981 collaboration with Stevie Wonder, "What Are You Gonna Do With It?," proved to be Wright's last significant solo hit. She continued issuing albums, in addition to trying her hand as a television talk show hostess and contributing songwriting, backing vocals, vocal production, and engineering work to albums by dozens of high-profile artists, including Erykah Badu, Regina Belle, David Byrne, Jennifer Lopez, Joss Stone, Angie Stone, and Lil Wayne. She also worked on Diddy's Press Play and appeared as a vocal coach on the Bad Boy label head's Making the Band series. In 2011, she collaborated with the Roots on Betty Wright: The Movie, her first solo album in a decade. ~ Greg Prato & Christine Ohlman