Betty Wright-“The Clean Up Woman! 1953-2020

Photo credit: Yahoo.com

“In a weekend when the music world was rocked by the deaths of Little Richard and Uptown Records founder Andre Harrell, now another R&B legend has also died.

Betty Wright, a six-time Grammy nominee known for the hits “Clean Up Woman,” “No Pain (No Gain),” and “Tonight Is the Night” and for her incredible range and whistle tone, passed away at age 66 on Friday. Wright’s niece first confirmed the news on Sunday morning; Billboard reports that the cause of death was cancer. Wright was born Bessie Regina Norris in Miami on Dec. 21, 1953. The youngest in a musical family of seven children, it seemed she was born to sing. Wright is survived by her four children, Aisha, Patrice, Chaka, and Asher.

Her career began at age 2, when she contributed vocals to the debut album by her siblings’ gospel group, the Echoes of Joy. Wright went solo at age 11, switching from gospel to R&B and performing at local talent shows. She landed a deal a year later with indie label Deep City Records, releasing a couple singles before moving on to Alston Records and releasing her full-length debut, My First Time Around, at age 14. That album yielded her first chart hit, “Girls Can’t Do What the Guys Do.”                       

Wright went solo at age 11, switching from gospel to R&B and performing at local talent shows. She landed a deal a year later with indie label Deep City Records, releasing a couple singles before moving on to Alston Records and releasing her full-length debut, My First Time Around, at age 14. That album yielded her first chart hit, “Girls Can’t Do What the Guys Do.”

The singer was still a teenager when she released “Clean Up Woman,” which went to No. 2 on the R&B chart and No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100, eventually selling more than a million copies. Although “Clean Up Woman” became her signature song, Wright cracked the charts another two-dozen times during her career, notably with the 1974 Best R&B Song Grammy-winner “Where Is the Love?” and 1981’s Stevie Wonder-produced “What Are You Going to Do With It.” In 1988, she became the first black female artist to achieve gold status with a self-released album, with her 12th LP, Mother Wit, on her own Mrs. B Records label.

Wright was also successful behind the scenes. She was a background vocalist for Erykah Badu, Regina Belle, David Byrne, Jimmy Cliff, Alice Cooper, Gloria Estefan, Stephen Stills, Peter Tosh, Stevie Wonder, and many others, and worked as a vocal coach, writer, producer, and/or engineer for the likes of Estefan, Kelly Clarkson, Keyshia Cole, Destiny’s Child, Michael Jackson, Tom Jones, Jennifer Lopez, and Joss Stone. She was introduced to a whole new audience when “Clean Up Woman” was sampled on Mary J. Blige’s “Real Love,” and her music was also sampled over the years by Afrika Bambaataa, Beyoncé, Chance the Rapper, Sublime, SWV, and many more. (She successfully sued the producers of Color Me Badd’s “I Wanna Sex You Up” for royalties after they sampled her without clearance or permission.) 

Wright continued to earn new fans as a regular on Sean Combs’s reality show Making the Band, on which she served as the vocal coach for Danity Kane, and through her musical collaborations with Combs, Ace Hood, Big Sean, DJ Khaled, the Game, Kendrick Lamar, Lil Wayne, Nas, Rick Ross, and Angie Stone. Her final album — and her first after a 10-year recording hiatus — was 2011’s Betty Wright: The Movie, a joint album with the Roots. Co-produced by Questlove with all tracks co-written by Wright, the album featured guest spots by Joss Stone, Snoop Dogg, Lil Wayne, and Lenny Williams, and its track “Surrender” earned a Grammy nomination for Best Traditional R&B Performance.

 

 

Song Lyrics –

A clean up woman is a woman who
Gets all the love we girls leave behind
The reason I know so much about her
Is because she picked up a man of mine

Chumpin’ slick was my ruin
‘Cause, I found out all I was doin’
Was making it easy for the clean up woman
To get my man’s love, oh yeah
Just making it easy for the clean up woman
To get my baby’s love, uh-huh, um-hum

I took this man’s love and put it a shelf
And like a fool I thought I had him all to myself

When you needed love I was out having fun
But I found out that all I had done
Was made it easy for the clean up woman
To get my man’s love, uh-huh
Yeah, that’s what I did, I made it easy for the clean up woman
To steal my baby’s love, oh yeah

The clean up woman will wipe his blues away
She’ll give him plenty lovin’ 24 hours a day
The clean up woman, she’ll sweep him off his feet
She’s the one who’ll take him in when you dump him in the street
So take a tip, you better get hip
To the clean up woman ’cause she’s tough
I mean, she really cleans up

9 thoughts on “Betty Wright-“The Clean Up Woman! 1953-2020

  1. Just a sad weekend…Sometimes I have to think….a lot of my heroes are turning 80…I mean…it doesn’t add up. Betty Wright had a great voice and a soulful voice. My favorite by her is Clean Up Woman…the groove in that song is great.

    Astrid Kirchherr also died. She took many photos of the Beatles before they were THE BEATLES in Germany. She also influenced their hair, clothes, and style…

    1. It just seems like time is going by super fast. It’s almost a little freaky how fast time is flying. Many of the heroes of our music era are up in age now.

      I didn’t know Astrid Kirchherr passed away too! I admired her work. I liked the way she changed the Beatles style and made then really stand out and be noticed!

      1. 70-80 is not like it use to be though…after seeing Ringo live and watching him run around on the stage…I then remember my grandfather at 70 something…it’s a different generation now…they are healthier.

        Yea it’s sad

        1. I’m sorry it took me so long to reply. It’s Saturday and with that comes laundry and housework, the fun stuff. I thought I would stop and post something and start back cleaning so I can shower, take a break, and watch a movie. It’s been raining like crazy all day. I hope you and your family are doing well.