Betty Wright is on the third and final night of her sold out shows at the Jazz Cafe on the back of her recent successful collaboration with The Roots. Betty has four decades of experience including performing, songwriting and producing for the likes of Joss Stone, Erykah Badu, Angie Stone and others. She takes to the stage in knee high boots, black leggings, a red sequinned jacket and her trademark Afro. She starts the set with “After the Pain” from her Mother Wit album of 1988. It is immediately clear that she has looked after that voice. Honey, lemon, eucalyptus and sheer will enables her to reach the notes that i’m not sure Mariah or Chante still can! Betty sure can sing and is an assured performer who feeds off her audience. She chats, giving occasional hugs to those at the front of the stage and kisses.
As a performer throughout the show she incorporates influences from Ice Cube, James Brown and Bob Marley while giving us “In the Middle of the Game” (from her latest CD), “Keep the Innocence” and “I Wanna Love You Down,” where she gets a real groove going with her family band as well as including a rap and story interlude. “Tonight’s the Night really gets the audience going and takes a Latin direction with Betty showcasing her percussive talents in a play-off with Ignacio Nunez on percussion.
Betty is not afraid to keep it real and through her song “I Gotta Go” chillingly brings home the thumping reality of abuse. Of course, the gig would not be complete without Betty bringing her broom to sweep the Jazz Cafe clean with her classic “Clean Up Woman”, where she clearly channels James Brown and lays down some spectacular dance moves. Proceedings are completed with “No Pain, No Gain” which takes a reggae vibe and fuses some Marley “Waiting in Vain”.
Betty Wright is an awesome songstress who has clearly looked after that voice as the power and the range still hits you right between the eyes and leaves you questioning how it’s possible to reach the notes that she reaches – truly both thrilling and memorable. We need some more Betty Wright on these shores real soon.
About the Writer
Terry Joe is a London-based has led bands as a vocalist, releasing cds and regularly performing. His favourite artists include Anita Baker, Jill Scott, Al Green, Gladys Knight, Stevie Wonder, Ledisi, Nathan Haines, Me'shell NdegeOcello and many more.