BETTY WRIGHT / ‘Betty Wright Mixtape”

betty wright 02.jpg Ms. Betty Wright. I admit it, back in the seventies I didn’t fully appreciate her. Seemed like she was always singing sad songs about being done wrong or doing wrong, or sometimes being both the doer and the done wrong. None of her classic songs had an overt, political message. And though I dug a number of the grooves, and really appreciated her voice, her multi-octave range and the enticing warmth of her tones, especially when she was rapping sweet nothings or whispering suggestive sweet something-somethings, nevertheless Betty was not a favorite of mine back in the day. But I know better now. Betty was like one of them sisters from around the way who never made it through college, that is if she even graduated from high school. The fine, thick young sisters who made all the house parties exciting and, later on, the late night trysts so alluring, even addictive. If they married, it was seldom for too long. Today they are pejoratively referred to as “baby mamas.” That’s the negative side of these women who are actually the bedrock of our communities. These are the strong ones and when whatever deal goes down, these are the sisters with more heart than a lot of the dudes who flake out when the going gets tougher than tough; like when the man kicks in the door or your boy from around the corner robs you blind, or when the electricity gets cut off and ain’t no food in the refrigerator and the kids got to eat and get taken to school. If you live (or lived) in the ghetto, you know the story. These are the sisters who some miraculous way get done whatever absolutely needs to get done. betty wright 04.jpg If you listen to Betty’s songs with an understanding that Betty is singing about the valley of emotional death that poor black women trod through on a daily basis, then you will get a different appreciation of this music. These are the ordinary looking sisters, the ones who are ten or twenty pounds (or more) heavier than they (and most everybody else) think they should be, or maybe they are so worn down their high school clothes hang off their frames because the cheap cotton dresses and polyester slacks have somehow become one or two sizes too big. But they aren’t asking for pity, nor are they simply singing the blues. They remain feisty, sure they go through bipolar mood swings, but they’re swinging, and swinging hard. That’s what you hear in Betty Wright’s music: the heart of working class black women to confront the daily worriations and downpressings of modern life. These are more than sufferers who survive. These women are the soul of our people. There is no quit here. No resignation. Instead there is defiance and determination. That’s what you hear in this music. Sure, I would love to hear more overt social awareness but I tell you what, whenever the deal goes down, these sisters got your back even as they continue to hold down the frontlines on the home front. Look, Betty has won a Grammy, but more important than any award, Betty was one of those Deep South stalwarts who bet their career on us being able to start our own record labels and compete on a national level. Betty literally went “natural” on a style tip, and went all out for self-determination. And although ultimately we didn’t overcome the way we wanted to, some of us are still standing, still singing, still swinging and it’s people like Betty Wright who deserve kudos for staying the course, for keeping on when supposedly smarter or more political types have fallen to the wayside. I’m not going to single out any particular song because I’m inviting you to listen to all of them with a different mindset. Indeed, listen to this collection for the joy and the pain, for the rough times of trials and tribulations that border on clichés but are actually reflective of deep, everyday truths. betty wright 03.jpg Miami born (December 21, 1953) and bred, Betty Wright is not a name we usually include at the top of our lists of soul singers, but as this Mixtape demonstrates loud and clear, the exclusion of Ms. Betty Wright is our error. Listen again. This is music that accurately reflects the ordinary albeit important dreams and desires of hard working women, the ones who are the sutures, threads, strings, twines and ropes that keep us together. —Kalamu ya Salaam Betty Wright Mixtape Playlist betty wight cover 01.jpg The Platinum Collection 01 “Girls Can't Do What The Guys Do” 02 “Baby Sitter” 03 “Secretary” 04 “Clean Up Woman” 05 “Pure Love” betty wight cover 02.jpg My First Time Around 06 “I'm Gonna Hate Myself In The Morning” betty wight cover 03.jpg Danger High Voltage 07 “Where Is The Love” betty wight cover 04.jpg 4u2njoy 08 “Valley Of Lonely” betty wight cover 05.jpg Sevens 09 “Pain” betty wight cover 03.jpg Danger High Voltage 10 “Shoorah! Shoorah” betty wight cover 06.jpg Mother Wit 11 “After The Pain” 12 “No Pain, (No Gain)” betty wight cover 07.jpg Betty Wright 13 “Indivisible” 14 “One Bad Habit” betty wight cover 08.jpg Betty Wright Live 15 “Lovin' Is Really My Game” 16 “Tonight Is The Night” 17 “A Song for You” 18 “You Can't See For Lookin' ”

This entry was posted on Monday, June 7th, 2010 at 10:50 am and is filed under Classic. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

3 Responses to “BETTY WRIGHT / ‘Betty Wright Mixtape””

Mtume Says:
June 8th, 2010 at 9:29 am

“You look like the kind of guy who likes the finer things in life. That’s why I want I want you to have me.”

Betty Wright spittin game! You gotta love that. 🙂

sarah Says:
June 8th, 2010 at 9:35 pm

Betty Wright is the consummate story-teller. I love her voice, but it really is her lyrics that draw you in. Wonderfully talented woman.

Kiini Says:
June 11th, 2010 at 3:02 pm

There is something very disturbing about this description of the class-based ways women are used: Betty was like one of them sisters from around the way who never made it through college, that is if she even graduated from high school. The fine, thick young sisters who made all the house parties exciting and, later on, the late night trysts so alluring, even addictive. If they married, it was seldom for too long. Today they are pejoratively referred to as “baby mamas.” I think it’s hanging something on working class women that is not solely their burden to bear. And the clear categorization of them as being there to be used and not taken seriously is chilling. As woman, I know there are ways that men think and relate to women that would (and has) deeply wounded me and those are just the gender breaks of life. Similar to the way that black people are seen as the only bearers of certain issues and burdens, it seems that this para is putting the weight of certain burdens many women share on working class women. They may be the most visible face of "baby-mama" situations, but they aren’t the only women who are saddled with taking care of family troubles and situations. Not by far. Is there any man who sees the women you are describing as equals? as wives? as life-long partners? I think so–perhaps men of their class who also aren’t college bound. I think they were and are more than just an exciting diversion for someone/somewhere. I hope in my heart for all women across class lines and all baby mamas across class lines (including myself) that there is a man out there who sees us as equals, worthy of partnership and more than a mere trifle.

          kalamu sez:            

i think you are absolutely right that the viewpoint is disturbing, but what is even more disturbing is that i think the portrait is accurate in terms of that is how men in general view women. on an individual level, i.e. one particular person to another particular person, there can be and there some times is mutual affection and love, but in terms of the general outlook, that is a different reality. those songs that betty both "wrote" and sang came from somewhere. from where do you think they came? "they" being the sentiments expressed in those songs, the situations described by those songs? an accurate snapshot of our social reality is disturbing. our social situation is disturbing, especially when the "our" is the situations and circumstances faced by young, working class women in america today, and, indeed, across the world. in many, many ways the situation has grown more disturbing rather than less disturbing since the sixties. that is why we need a revolution, including a revolution of the mind, which is why i wished for more social awareness. telling the truth is disturbing and creating a better world is revolutionary precisely because we are in a bad position and our condition is no accident but rather the result of specific actions of our oppressors and exploiters combined with our specific reactions and choices. i was not describing what should be or what i wanted things to be but rather describing what was and is a social reality—a disturbing social reality.



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