BETTY WRIGHT / Betty Wright Mixtape #2
I have a lot to say about new music from Betty Wright but only need a little space to say it. Bessie Regina Norris was born December 21, 1953 in Miami, Florida. She was popular R&B artist of the seventies who continues to be a force on the modern music scene in this new millennium. Not only are many of her songs sampled in modern music, she is often employed for behind the scenes vocal work, vocal coaching, and vocal arranging. Appearances on her new album by rappers Lil Wayne and Snoop Dogg are based in part on her previous work with these and other popular rappers. I’ve previously said my piece about Betty Wright here (and please do check out the comments and my exchange with my daughter). I have beaucoup respect and admiration for Ms. Wright as both a writer/composer and as a singer/performer. However, with this new album Betty moves into an entire other category. Ms. Wright had not released any commercial albums in ten years and then she, or someone, comes up with the brilliant idea of a new record with The Roots. Well, Ms. Betty acts like she been waiting on this for years. I have included tracks from B-Attitudes (1994) and Fit For A King (2001) her previous two releases. Compare the studio-heavy, synthesizer sound-beds to the intimate encounter with a real band on Betty Wright: The Movie. The earlier music is good, this new album is great. The Roots is probably the only working contemporary band that could had brought an authentic soul sound to the recording process. These are not soul veterans recapitulating past glories. Most of The Roots members were barely born when this soul music was at its apogee. Nevertheless, from the opening track “Old Songs” everything is on the one and once again serious musicianship makes a distinctive near sublime difference. Due to a number of factors, even as this album revels in a classic soul sound, there is nary a whiff of forced nostalgia. First of all there is the studio production that is fully contemporary even though style-wise it’s based on an earlier era. Second, there are the guest appearances, which except for Lenny Williams, are by youngsters in comparison to Betty Wright. Third, Betty Wright has taken care of herself physically; she’s almost sixty and still hitting the high notes and rocking your libido with her low growls. But fourth, and most importantly of all, Betty Wright is still writing real songs, offering real talk about real situations. Addressing the mundane situations and enduring aspirations of working class black women has always been her strong suit and for this album she has a hand full of aces. This is Mama Betty Wright laying down experience-based advice and observations with all the wit and candor characteristic of a veteran of life. Moreover, she never over-sings, never tries to show us vocal tricks and acrobatics to prove that she still has her youthful range. No, instead, Betty just sincerely sings from the heart and in so doing, Betty captures both our attention and our love. —Kalamu ya Salaam Betty Wright Mixtape 2 Playlist B-Attitudes 01 “It's The Little Things” 02 “For Love Alone” 03 “Distant Lover” Fit For A King 04 “Fit For A King” 05 “How Could You Just Walk Away?” 06 “Church Is Out” 07 “Thoughts” Betty Wright: The Movie 08 “Old Songs” 09 “Hollywould” 10 “Grapes on a Vine” 11 “Real Woman” 12 “The One” 13 “Baby Come Back” 14 “Go!”
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