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'The Voice of Every Woman' Has Died at 66

Betty Wright kicked off her career at the ripe age of 2
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted May 10, 2020 2:20 PM CDT

Betty Wright, the Grammy Award-winning soul singer who gave us "No Pain (No Gain)" and "Tonight Is the Night," has died at age 66. The cause was cancer, Billboard reports. "I just lost my aunt this morning," Wright's niece tweeted Sunday, per People, adding that "my auntie was a legend ... she helped me get my first paychecks singing background ... and I didn’t make it to see you this past week and that's going to haunt me." Wright broke out at age 17 with "Clean Up Woman," which hit No. 6 on the Hot 100 and helped make her a major player in 1970s Miami funk, per the New York Times. She followed with more than 10 top 20 hit songs including "Tonight Is the Night" and the "Where Is the Love," the latter winning a Grammy for best R&B song in 1975.

Wright went on to create her own record label, Ms. B Records, and popularize the phrase "No Pain (No Gain)" with her namesake song, TMZ reports. She was also an arranger and producer who worked with the likes of Stevie Wonder, David Byrne, Jennifer Lopez, and Bob Marley, and advised many younger soul artists. "Betty can lay greater claim to being the voice of 'every woman' than, say, Chaka or Aretha," a reviewer wrote of her years ago. Born Bessie Regina Norris in Miami in 1953, Wright kicked off her career at age 2 in a gospel group begun by her siblings called Echoes of Joy. Dick Clark later asked if she had been a "church singer," and she didn't hesitate: "Absolutely," she said. "I still am." Clearly, she will be missed. (More R&B stories.)

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