Soul singer Betty Wright, praised for her voice and coaching younger talent, while also being called music royalty, passed away at her home in Miami, Florida, on Sunday at the age of 66.
Her death was confirmed by her family. S-Curve Records President Steve Greenberg told The New York Times that Wright was diagnosed with endometrial cancer last fall.
Wright scored a hit in 1972 with “Clean Up Woman,” which was sampled for Mary J. Blige’s “Real Love” and by other artists like Chance The Rapper.
“Tonight Is the Night” and “No Pain, (No Gain)” are other popular Wright tunes, and she won a Grammy award as a songwriter in 1975 for “Where Is the Love?” in the category of Best R&B song. Many years later, she was seen as a voice coach on MTV’s reality series “Making the Band.”
The Florida native began her career performing with her family’s gospel group the Echoes of Joy as a child. She then released her solo album “My First Time Around” at age 14 and scored her first song on the Top 40 charts with “Girls Can’t Do What the Guys Do.”
Wright also proved to be ahead of her time as a businesswoman by creating her own record label Ms. B Records in 1985 and becoming the first woman to have a gold record on her own label.
A number of artists reacted to the singer’s passing, like John Legend, who tweeted, “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.”
On Sunday soul singer Ledisi tweeted about the mark that Wright left as both an artist and mentor.
“Thank you for being a master teacher, a friend and one of the greatest female soul singers in our industry,” she wrote. “You were so much more than your music. We were blessed to be around royalty. Thank you. I will never forget.”
Dawn Richards, whom Wright was seen coaching on “Making The Band” was another artist who sent a message.
“Betty Wright or Ms. B to us was the funniest, realest, kindest spirit. She was one of our vocal trainers during the beginnings of DK. I loved that she was unafraid to add grit to any lyric. She helped us emote and find our voices as women in the industry. Thank you Ms. B. RIP.”