Betty Wright, Soul and R&B Legend, Dead at 66

Soul singer Betty Wright passed away Sunday at age 66. The news of her passing was confirmed by her family Essence. A cause of death has not been released, though Rolling Stone reported it was due to complications from cancer.

According to TMZ, Wright's cause of death has not been revealed. Prior to her passing, on May 2, her friend, Chaka Khan, wrote a message on Twitter in which she noted that Wright was not doing alright. She has not commented on the news of Wright's death.

"Calling all my #PrayWarriors. My beloved sister, Betty Wright @MsBettyWright, is now in need of all your prayers."

On Sunday morning, Wright's niece Bella confirmed the news of her aunt's passingwritting on Twitter, “I just lost my aunt this morning.... and now my mood has changed.... sleep in peace aunty Betty Wright. Fly high angel.” In a subsequent, Wright's niece wrote about the kindness that the singer had shown her and lamented the fact that she was unable to pay her one last visit before her death.

Betty Wright Songs

An icon of R&B music, Wright is famous for classics such as "Tonight is the Night" and "No Pain (No Gain)." In 1975, she collaborated with members of K.C. and the Sunshine Band for her single "Where is the Love." That song went on to win the Grammy for Best R&B Song, ironically beating out two K.C. and the Sunshine Band hits – “Get Down Tonight” and “That’s The Way (I Like It)."

Her music has been sampled by such artists as SWV, Sublime, Willie D, Afrika Bambaattaa and Chance the Rapper. Wright's first hit, "Girls Can't Do What Guys Do," was sampled for Beyonce's "Upgrade U" and her 1972 song "Clean Up Woman" is forever noted in hip hop soul history after Mary J. Blige sampled it for her hit "Real Love."

Wright wasn't only a successful singer, she also made a bold move in the 1980s that cemented her status as a legendary figure in the music industry. TMZ noted that Wright was recently honored on TV One's Unsung, a documentary program that looks back on various R&B and soul artists of the last several decades.

They note the "Clean Up Woman" singer launched her own independent label in the 1980s, marking the first time that a solo female artist had done so. Under her own label, she recorded "No Pain (No Gain)" and "Mother Wit," which went gold. Wright made history again as the first African-American female singer to hit gold record status under her own record label with "Mother Wit".


Betty Wright is not the first legend the world is saying goodbye this weekend. On Saturday, Little Richard died. The flamboyant legend of rock and roll was 87.

Related: Betty Wright's Passing Sparks Betty White Death Worries