Betty Davis, a bold and innovative funk singer model, songwriter and model who was widely credited with inspiring her husband at the time Miles Davis’ landmark fusion of jazz and modern sounds, died at the age of 77, as reported by by the Associated Press.
Davis passed away early on Wednesday following an illness that was brief as per Danielle Maggio, a singer and associate professor at The University of Pittsburgh and associate producer of the documentary Betty The People say I’m different.
Davis was a part of her early life in Pittsburgh and then settled in Pittsburgh in the latter half of her life.
Sometimes, she was referred as Madonna prior to Madonna, Davis was the rare female artist to release records of funk in the 1970s. her three albums of at the time showcased her uncompromising personal style, sexuality, and determination to control her music and image.
Davis producer Greg Errico, former drummer for Sly and the Family Stone and the Family Stone, described her style as “down and dirty funk.” Her records were sold modestly in the early days however their influence is often mentioned over the years following.
“The reach of her influence & sonic lineage is immense,” the writer and reviewer Hanif Abdurraqib tweeted Wednesday. “You’ve heard her even if it seems like that you’ve never heard her. I’m grateful we had her.”
The birthplace of Betty Mabry in Durham, North Carolina, she was just a teenager when she relocated in New York City in the early 1960s . She enrolled at the Fashion Institute of Technology.
She eventually found work as a model Seventeenand Glamour in addition to other magazines. She would get to meet Jimi Hendrix, Sly Stone and many other artists.
She also released her own material, including her songs The Cellar and Get Ready for Bettyand she also wrote Uptown (to Harlem) for the Chambers Brothers.
She was a lover of Eric Clapton and Robert Palmer along with other rock stars but she was most well-known for her association together with Miles Davis. They only dated for a short period in the 1960s. He accused that she was a woman, and she denied she was involved in been involved with Hendrix.
However, the influence she had on Miles Davis and the future of jazz went on for a long time. Miles Davis would cite her as a catalyst for him to open up to the music that came from Hendrix as well as Sly along with The Family Stone among others.
“His world was progressive jazz, plus he was a lover of classical music, so there were lots of things he hadn’t picked up on,” Betty Davis revealed to in the Guardian in the year 2010.
She did not release new music for a long time, but she wasn’t lost to history. Betty Davis and other ’70s albums were released and her music was featured on Orange is The New Blackand other TV shows.
In 2019 she broke her lengthy silence by releasing The Little Bit Hot Tonight which is a groovy blend that combines Eastern as well as Western influences. She wrote the song and produced, as well as arranged and then asked Maggio to sing.
“It was a wonderful, surreal experience,” Maggio stated to AP. “As an ethnomusicologist who writes about Betty it was amazing to see her music making process first hand.”