Miami’s Queen of Soul Betty Wright Has Died

Miami's Queen of Soul Betty Wright Has Died
Betty Wright

by Howard Campbell

SOUTH FLORIDA – Betty Wright, the soul singer who helped define the Miami sound of the 1970s, has died. She passed away on May 10, Mother’s Day, at age 66.

Wright’s powerful vocals drove hit songs like Clean Up Woman, Girls Can’t do What The Guys Do, Tonight is The Night and No Pain, No Gain.

Several of her songs, including Girls Can’t do What The Guys Do, were distributed by Alston Records which was owned by Henry Stone. Alston was a subsidiary of TK Records, Stone’s Miami-based company that produced a number of disco hits in the 1970s, such as George McCrae’s Rock Your Baby, I’m Your Boogie Man by K C and The Sunshine Band and Rocking Chair by Gwen McCrae.

Wright had strong ties to Jamaica. Her husband, singer/songwrter Noel “King Sporty” Williams, was from Portland parish in that country and co-wrote Buffalo Soldier with Bob Marley.

The sultry Wright opened for Marley on some of the shows on his 1979 Survival Tour. She also contributed backing vocals to albums by Peter Tosh, Jimmy Cliff and Barrington Levy.

Before her last major performance, at last year’s Jazz In The Gardens in Miami, Wright recalled her relationship with Marley who died May 11, 1981 at age 36.

“For the past 3 1/2 years, I’ve been working with his grandson, Skip, who had a [hit] record [‘Chained to the Rhythm’] with Katy Perry. And the experience with Bob — I can almost live it every day, because I’m always telling his grandson something that Bob did, because he didn’t get to meet him. And not only did I get to do the tours with Bob, but we were also friends, because my husband [Noel ‘King Sporty’ Williams] wrote ‘Buffalo Soldier’,” she explained.

Betty Wright was a popular artist in Jamaica, where she performed several times, the first being in 1970 at the Carib Theatre in Kingston.



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