This weekend was pretty heavy for Black music. While we had the beautiful Verzuz battle between Neo-Soul queen Erykah Badu and Jill Scott, we were mourning the loss of three iconic figures in R&B, Hip-Hop, and Rock & Roll: Betty Wright, Andre Harrell, and Little Richard.
Betty Wright came on to the scene as a teenager in the late 1960’s, but rose to stardom with her hit single, “Clean Up Woman” at the age of 19. She is also known for other hits such as “No Pain No Gain” and “Tonight is the Night”, a song that transcends generations talking about your first time having… you know…
Wright has been a vocal coach on Sean “Diddy” Combs widely popular show Making The Band, and her music has been sampled by many artists such as Mary J. Blige.
Here is one song that has been sampled the most, “Clean Up Woman”:
If you love 90s R&B, you have Andre Harrell to thank. As the founder of legendary record label, Uptown Records, Harrell introduced the world to artists that current recording artists would be influenced by today such as Heavy D & The Boys, Mary J. Blige, Al B. Sure!, and Guy. He would also be the one who discovers future music mogul, Sean “Diddy” Combs.
Harrell being one half of the rap duo, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in the 80’s was only the beginning of what he would be able to accomplish. Because of him, the culture of Black music changed. Some would even say that he coined the term “Ghetto Fabulous”. The way that he was able to help fuse R&B and Hip Hop together to make a unique sound was that of a genius.
To get an idea of how much of a game changer Andre Harrell was, take a look at this music video:
As for that R&B/ Hip Hop fusion:
Little Richard never got the credit that he deserved, and he was not afraid to let that be known. As the father of Rock & Roll, he created a sound that would be emulated by recording artists of different races and genders for decades to come. While some news articles may call him the self proclaimed architect of rock & roll, I’m just gonna let it be known that he in fact IS the architect of rock & roll. Don’t believe me? The man said it himself:
I mean, this song here gave all the culture vultures some inspiration…
May these three icons rest in eternal peace. Thank you for what you gave to Black music, to Black culture, and to Black identity. Thank you for breaking down barriers so that generations after you would be able to create magic. We shall continue to honor your legacy through music…