We recently lost an Icon. 70’s soul and funk legend, Betty Davis, died at the age of 77.
Born Betty Mabry on July 26, 1945, in Durham, North Carolina, this sexy songstress died of natural causes on February 9, 2022.
At age 12, her family relocated to Pittsburgh, PA. But by age 16, Betty headed to New York City, where she enrolled at the Fashion Institute of Technology. She later became a model, where she appeared in several magazines.
Her light beams continued to shine when she earned a songwriting credit for the 1967 debut album by The Chamber Brothers. She went on to record several songs with musicians from South Africa.
Betty dated and briefly married the great jazz musician Miles Davis where she was his muse behind his album, Filles de Kilimanjaro, in 1968. She appeared on the cover of that album. Betty and Miles divorced in 1969, but she did a solo album with Light in the Attic Records four years later.
She was said to be ahead of her time with her bold sexiness. She was known to be brazen, powerful, raunchy, and unapologetically herself. Of course, that kind of spark is what got her barred from TV performances, boycotted, and protested by the NAACP and religious groups. Her final two albums were, They Say I’m Different, released in 1974, and Nasty Gal from 1975. Neither album earned commercial success, but Betty gained a cult following. The raw and sexy lyrics are what got the attention of her fans.
Betty worked with such names as Halston and Betsey Johnson in the fashion industry. She wrote songs for the Commodores and recorded with the Pointer Sisters, Sylvester, and Sly and the Family Stone. She even recorded songs with a group of her cousins and friends, known as Funk House.
By the late 70s, Betty spent a year in Japan with silent monks. During her return to the U.S., she left the music scene and returned to Pittsburgh. In 2017, Betty: They Say I’m Different, the documentary was released. However, Betty did not release a new song until 2019 titled A Little Bit Hot Tonight. Her best friend, Danielle Maggio sang it on her behalf.
Upon her death, many admirers, fans, and celebrities commented on social media, saying how inspiring and influential she was to everyone. Her liberating personality and attitude made her a trailblazer for future artists with similar styles.
If you’re not familiar with Betty Davis, I suggest you immediately check out her music. Her well-known songs are Your Man My Man, If I’m In Luck I Might Get Picked Up, and Shut Off the Light.
May your soul be at peace, Betty. Thank you for leaving parts of yourself behind for us always to enjoy.