Betty Davis

Betty Davis, born Betty Mabry on July 26, 1945, is an American soul and funk singer. Her reputation as a music innovator who was ahead of her time, and for her unforgettable live performances is often praised. Betty Mabry was born in 1945. She grew up in Durham and Pittsburgh. She listened to B.B. on her grandmother’s Reidsville farm, North Carolina. King, Jimmy Reed, Elmore James, and other blues musicians were some of her influences. She wrote “I’m Going to Bake That Cake of Love” as one of her first songs at twelve. She left Pittsburgh at 16 to go to New York City. While living with her aunt, she enrolled at the Fashion Institute of Technology. She was a sponge for the Greenwich Village culture, and the folk music of the 1960s. She was a frequenter of the Cellar in Uptown, where stylish young people congregated. The crowd was multiracial and diverse, with models, designers, actors, singers, and other artists. She played records at the Cellar and chatted up people. She was also a model and appeared in photo spreads in Seventeen Magazine, Ebony, and Glamour. She met many musicians, including Jimi Hendrix as well as Sly Stone during her time in New York. Lou Courtney, a soul singer, was her friend and she produced her first single “The Cellar”. It contained simple lyrics such as “Where are you going fellas? so fly!” “I’m going the Cellar, my dear / What are you going to do there? / We’re going boogaloo there.” This single was a local hit for the Cellar. She wrote “Uptown (to Harlem),” her first professional gig, for the Chambers Brothers. Although their 1967 album was a huge success, Betty Mabry was more concerned with her modeling career. Although she was a successful model, she felt unsatisfied by the work. Oliver Wang’s They Say I’m Different liner notes says that she didn’t enjoy modeling because it didn’t require brains. It won’t last as long you look good. In 1967, she met Miles Davis and was married to him in September 1968. She influenced Miles greatly in just one year by introducing him the latest music and fashion trends. Miles wrote in his autobiography that Betty was responsible for introducing him to Jimi Hendrix, a psychedelic rock guitarist, and Sly Stone. Miles Davis’ 1968 album Filles de Kilimanjaro features a song named after Betty and her photo as the cover. Miles believed Hendrix and Betty had an illicit affair that allegedly led to the end of their marriage. But Betty refutes this. Hendrix and Miles kept in touch after their divorce, intending to record until Hendrix’s passing. Bitches Brew (1970), which marked the dawn of jazz fusion, clearly shows Hendrix’s influence and Sly Stone’s influence on Miles Davis. Although the origin of Miles’ album title is not known, some believe he was paying tribute to Betty and her friends. It is believed that Miles originally wanted to name the album Witches Brew, but Betty convinced him to change it. Betty Mabry was the one who recorded “Get Ready For Betty” and “I’m Gonna Get My Baby back” for DCP International in 1964. She also recorded a song for Safice under the joint name of “Roy And Betty” during that time. Betty’s first major credit was the 1967 recording of “Uptown (to Harlem),” by the Chambers Brothers. She recorded several songs for Columbia Records in 1968 while she was still working with Hugh Masekela. Masekela arranged the arrangements. Two of these songs were released as singles: “Live, love, learn” b/w “It’s My Life”. After her split from Masekela, Betty began a relationship with Miles Davis. In the spring 1969, Betty went back to Columbia’s 52nd St. Studios and recorded a number of demo tracks. Miles Macero and Teo Macero produced. During those sessions, at least five songs were recorded, including three Mabry originals and two covers of Cream. Miles tried to use the demo songs in an attempt to get Betty an album deal, but neither Columbia nor Atlantic was interested. The recordings were stored in a vault until 2016, when they were used in the compilation Betty Davis, the Columbia Years, 1968-1969, which was released by Seattle’s Light in the Attic Records. Betty left Davis after their marriage and moved to London in 1971 to pursue her modeling career. While in the UK, she wrote music and returned to the USA around 1972 with the intent of recording songs with Santana. Instead, she recorded her songs with West Coast funk musicians. In 1973, Betty Davis released her first album. Two minor hits were hers on the Billboard R.

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