Betty Wright, Grammy Award-Winning R&B Singer, Dead at 66

Maria Pasquini
·3 min read

Betty Wright, whose hits include “No Pain, (No Gain)” and “Tonight Is the Night,” has died. She was 66.

News of her death was shared on Sunday morning by her niece. “I just lost my aunt this morning.... and now my mood has changed.... sleep in peace aunty Betty Wright,” she wrote on Twitter. “Fly high angel.”

Reflecting on the kindness Wright showed her over the years, her niece also expressed regret at not being able to pay her one last visit. “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 .... R.I.P. Betty Wright,” she wrote.

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Aaron Davidson/Getty Images Betty Wright

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Although Wright’s niece did not share a cause of death, the news of her death came just over a week after Chaka Khan asked her followers to pray for the singer.

“Calling all my #PrayWarriors | My beloved sister, Betty Wright @MsBettyWright, is now in need,” Khan, 67, wrote on Twitter. “In Jesus Name We Pray for Sister Betty. All My Love Chaka.”

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Wright began her decades-long musical career at just 12 years old when she secured her first record deal.

The Miami native, born Bessie Regina Norris, began topping charts in the early ’70s with her hit song “Clean Up Woman” that landed her the No. 2 spot on the R&B list and earned her an RIAA Gold record. She went on to release more than 10 top 20 hit songs.

The six-time Grammy nominee won her first and only award in 1976 for her song “Where Is the Love.”

Shutterstock Betty Wright

Paul Natkin/Getty Images Betty Wright

Throughout her career, Wright has worked with Jermaine and Marlon Jackson on their studio albums, as well as Larry Blackmon, Bobby Caldwell and Gloria Estefan.

Additionally, Wright once served as Beyoncé’s vocal coach — and the 38-year-old singer even sampled Wright’s song, "Girls Can't Do What Guys Do," for her 2006 hit “Upgrade U.”

Wright's music has also been sampled by Chance the Rapper, Sublime, Afrika Bambaata, and Mary J. Blige, who used the riff from Wright’s song “Clean Up Woman” in her remix of “Real Love.”

Just last month, her legacy was honored on TV One’s Unsung, with Lil Wayne and DJ Khaled opening up about the impact her musical legacy had on their lives.